Did I say I wasn’t going to do any more Overnight Canyons?

GLEN DAVIS – 25 – 28 April 2019
Anna says that I did say that not so long ago!  Exploratory canyoning is a case of “expect the unexpected”, and, you don’t always find a canyon.  Plus, you ALWAYS come away with something else in the area that you just “have to check out next time”.  This trip was challenging for me because we had to carry in all our abseil gear, plus everything we needed to stay out for three nights – thankfully Jeff B came to the rescue and carried in some of what I couldn’t fit in my canyon pack – enabling me to do yet another overnight canyon!

The amazing John G led the trip, joined by Jeff and me, plus Andrew B, Jim C, Trish M, Heather R, Bill R and Anna O-B.  We all met at the Coorangooba Campground at 8am on Thursday morning, Jeff and I drove up on Wednesday night.

Our campsite for 2 nights would be an overhang that John and Anna had found on a previous trip in one of the branches of a well known creek system.  The first couple of hours were relatively straight forward, basically up-hill!

Our morning tea stop at the junction of the main creek and the side creek we’d be camping on.

We then started to make our way upstream, avoiding getting our feet wet where possible.

There are lots of big boulders in this part of the creek, this made the going difficult when you were lugging a heavy pack and trying to climb up and over rocks the size of caravans.

Eventually I’d had enough of the rocky creek so headed off up on the side of the creek and found a not-so scrubby route which was much easier.  After a while, the rest of the group came up and joined me.

After an hour or so, we came to a tunnel (a big slab of rock had fallen and created a dark tunnel to walk through). (Haven’t quite got the exposure right with this camera!)

At the end of the tunnel was a nice flat area (good campsite for a small group), and we stopped here for lunch.

Looking out from the tunnel.

We continued upstream through very pretty ferny areas, and dropped down to walk in the creek itself, the boulders are no longer so big that you have to climb them.

And the canyon walls have now closed in quite a bit.

Eventually we came to a spot that had a pool and a waterfall, originally John and Anna had done a dodgy climb to get up past the waterfall, but then they found a good way to get onto a ledge to avoid the waterfall entirely.

This involved a small climb and then traversing along a ledge (none of which I enjoyed), Jim seemed to have no problem with it.

Then there was a small climb – most of us used a hand-line to make it safer.  After this climb, it was a 100m walk to our overhang.

Everyone quickly set up camp in the overhang.  Often with overhangs like this, you get fine dust on the floor, but this one had good river sand so it wasn’t as dusty as they can sometimes be.  It was a little cramped for 9 of us but one person was only staying for a day or two.

Once we’d set up camp, we set off on the exploration part.  None of us had been up this side creek before, so it was all new.  I was really impressed by the quality of the canyon, nice constriction, and lots of ferns and moss.  We would be “reversing the canyon”, that is going up it instead of down it (as you normally do with a canyon).

This shot gives you an idea of the size of it.

Our fist challenge, a very slippery rock and an equally slippery log.

Followed by some more nice canyon formation.

Our second challenge, a very rotten log to get us past a difficult climb, there was a small pool below, but if you’d fallen, you’d have definitely hurt yourself.

The canyon opens out a little, we were able to walk along a ledge to avoid this pool.

The third challenge, a very deep pool.  I was first across and got wet up to my chest, we then found a log that you could balance on, some found a way to climb around the pool, but it didn’t look easy enough for me.

Eventually Heather decided that it was easier to sit on the log than balance on it.

The next challenge, a very dodgy log, but you could balance on it by touching the lh side (in the pic), John who’s way tall had no trouble, but it was a real stretch for me to touch the lh side, and the rh side was overhung so pushed you out.

Bill decided that it was easier to wade across and climb up a slippery wall.

Anna thought that was the best way to go too, but it was hard getting around the rock.

The canyon is getting narrower and narrower.

Then we came to a barrier that none of us really wanted to cross, a deep pool (over my head), and no way other than swimming it to get across.  Bill gave it his best shot with some sticks and a log but it was too deep.

Jim took one for the team and swam across and climbed the rocks (very awkward).

None of us thought he’d make it, but he did, walked upstream a ways and reported another pool and a waterfall.  I guess we’re going to have to come back to this one and do it from the top down (and do some abseils).

We retraced our steps and then explored up a side branch of this side creek (gets confusing doesn’t it!).  We were able to climb up this slippery rock by putting a few logs in place.

John and Andrew walked back upstream (in the canyon we camped in) to the tunnel section to take some “proper” photos, shows the extent of the tunnel area, we didn’t take flash-lights with us when we went, so couldn’t really see the extent of it (one of the reasons John and Andrew went back). (Photo John G).

There wasn’t a whole lot to see in this side branch but John wanted to see if there was a route out, and whether or not there was an easy route back to our campsite that we could use the next day to easily get from our campsite to the next branch across.  So, the group split up, a small quick group headed further up the side branch and the rest of us headed back to camp (retracing our steps).  As it happened, when we got to camp, we heard the others coming down another side branch, right by the overhang.  They set up a hand-line and this is what we’d use the next day to get out and explore further afield.

Next morning we headed off at 8am and took the easy route that the fast group had found the previous afternoon, this is the small gully beside our campsite.

Half way up this gully we came across this lovely wind-eroded cave.

Once out of the gully, we crossed a small saddle and dropped down into another branch of the well-known creek system.  So far it was a bushwalk, in a very dry creek, we did find this huge tree, which had fallen and had shed its bark, Anna thought she was in a canoe.

We kept expecting the canyon walls to close in on us, but it never happened.  There were a lot of drops, but we were usually able to use a handy log (such as here), or find a way around the drops.

Some logs, like this one were too scary for me to walk, so I avoided them entirely (finding a route around them), Anna bravely walked the plank, Heather took an alternate way and “rode” the log down. (Photo: John G)

Eventually it started to get really boulder, here’s Trish going down a drop, good thing I didn’t have to reverse this, I wouldn’t have been able to get up it.

At one point, Bill didn’t want to walk around these boulders so decided to do a “classic” abseil down (as he had a small rope in his pack).

We stopped for lunch at this massive overhang, very wind eroded with a big sand dune in it, Heather climbed to the top.

Getting down off the ledge with the sand dune was another challenge, using trees to shimmy down.

More rocks that you had to walk up and around, I was over walking up hills by this point so found a small cave that we could drop down through, Trish and Andrew followed me (a bit of caving in this non-canyon).

Andrew exiting the cave.  Shortly after this section we arrived at a junction of this creek and the one we were camping on, so we hugged the cliff-line and headed home.

We passed yet another wind eroded cave, with fine sand forming a sand dune. Unfortunately none of these caves were suitable for using as a camp cave, the floors were very steep, plus the sand was fine and dusty, would have been awful camping on it!

The route back to camp was very quick, we were basically going up the creek that we’d travelled up the previous day, but high up at the base of the cliff.  The vegetation was reasonably friendly and we were back at camp very quickly.  Unfortunately, Trish had hurt her Achilles tendon on the walk back and so we were uncertain as to what we would to the following day.  Nevertheless, we had a great campfire that night and I drank too much of my allocated portion of Buttescotch Schnapps.

When we got up, John made the decision not to take a risk with Trish’s Achilles, so rather than go cross country to a creek system that was totally unknown to any of us, we would head down to the Capertee River, and Trish would walk out.  We’d drop our packs there and attack the creek from below, rather than above, plus we’d take a look at a pinnacle that John had spotted on another trip.  We were down at the Capertee by 10am and Trish (who was walking ok), set off for the campsite and headed home.

Rather than climb down the sketchy down-climb downstream of our campsite, we found this alternative route, Jeff chose the fireman’s way, I tried this too but must have grabbed the tree too tightly as I took a lot of skin off my chest! (Photo: John G)

Unusual weathering in the cliff face, looked to me like a cartoon figure with smiling mouth, nose, closed eye and Donald Trump style hair.

Maybe this canyon should be called Jaws or Shark, we found this rock formation on the walk out. (Photo: John G)

We found a spot to hid all our gear and then headed down towards the creek we wanted to explore.  The walk up hill to the pinnacle John wanted to check out took us until lunch time, very hot walk and constantly up hill over rocks and through scrub.

Finally we got to it and everyone except Heather and I climbed it.  Looked way too exposed for me to climb up, you can just see Anna on the climb, with Andrew at the top.  Heather and I couldn’t watch any more so found a place where we couldn’t see them (or them climbing down!).

Great shot of John on the pinnacle (Photo: Andrew B), it looks like he’s right on the edge, but I’ve been assured that there was a nice ledge down below him (yeah, right!). Great view of the Capertee valley looking upstream to the Coorangooba campsite in the distance.

Looking down the Capertee Valley, there is a fire trail for quite a distance down the valley, not sure why they built the road but it’s handy to get you in and out quickly.

Couldn’t resist this shot sitting down with Heather, the sky was so blue and the gum tree almost sparkled in the sun.

Once we’d had lunch we had to decide what course of action we’d take.  We’d taken considerable time to get up to the pinnacle, and wouldn’t have the time to get to the top of the creek system to check it out.  So, we split the group in two, a fast group of four who would go up to the cliff top (or the mid level), and try to get as far as they could to check out egress and access, and then the second group of four would head around into the creek itself, to see if we could get to where it punched through the cliff-line, this was the group I’d be in, and we were hoping for a fairly cruisy trip.  Each group would go as far as they could until 3.30pm and then turn around, each group would have all the emergency gear they needed, and whoever got back to camp first would start the campfire (lol).

Jim, Heather, Jeff and I headed off from the pinnacle.  We hugged the base of the cliff, and I think actually we were on the mid-level.  It was hard going, very scrubby, lots of fallen trees and not much to see.

We continued along for about an hour and were still no where near where (we hoped), the canyon section (if any) would start.  Eventually we decided that we’d had enough, couldn’t see much and so headed back, retracing our steps, although we dropped down a 20 or 30m and actually found a really good route that got us back to our belongings in less than an hour.  We had heard the other group above us, but weren’t sure where they were.  As it happened, they went as far as they could and then were stopped by a dodgy climb, so ended up doing 3 abseils to drop down to our level (and they followed our footprints for a few hundred metres).

They got into camp at about 5pm and Andrew headed down the trail to get back home that nigh.

Our campsite on the Capertee was very nice, we took a punt that there’d be no dew (as we didn’t have a convenient overhang) and slept under the stars.  The campsite was nice and flat with plenty of dead wood for our campfire.

We were all up early Sunday morning and headed off around 9am, getting back to the cars by 9.45am (which meant Jeff and I would be home in daylight for a change – lol).

So, what did we learn from our exploration?  I’m definitely going back to do some more of this creek’s branches, I’ve already done the “best” one, but I’d like to do that again, and a couple of the others.

John is already talking about our assault on the unnamed creek and has sussed out a camp cave that we can use as a base … so many canyons so little time!  Thanks for putting on the trip John!

Thank you so much Jeff for carrying some of my gear over the weekend, made it so much easier for me to keep up (and not end up an exhausted heap at the end of each day!).  It was a great group, lots of laughs and everyone pitched in to help each other out.

Snake sightings:  0 – bonus!
Lessons learned:
– Drinking wine at night means you have to wake up around 1pm to pee
– You don’t have to get up at all during the night to pee if you drink Butterscotch Schnapps.
– Take more Butterscotch Schnapps, 200ml isn’t enough for 3 nights
– I can live for 6 nights (includes Ettrema) on Mee Goreng noodles with Spag Bol sauce
– Dehydrated cheese is yummy in the Mee Goreng soup

Banner:  everyone milling around trying to decide whether they wanted to swim or not.
Thumbnail:  small orchid found, flowers were 3mm in diameter, very, very small.

This entry was posted in Bushwalking, Canyoning, MSS. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Did I say I wasn’t going to do any more Overnight Canyons?

  1. Jeff says:

    Another great Adventure!

  2. Eric rowlands says:

    Do you come across many leeches

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