NEWNES PLATEAU – 13 & 14 February 2021
This turned into (yes David), yet another epic trip. In hindsight, we should have gone with the option to exit via the Tiger Snake exit track, it would have meant backtracking 600m and then going 600m or so up to the exit track and then an easy walk out. Instead we continued up the Gorge and then an easy pass up onto the plateau, but around 2k of off track through a maze of pagodas, and going this way probably added an extra 3 hours to the walk out!
Our plan, which I’d been mulling over for years, was to do an unpublished canyon up on the plateau, camp in Constance Gorge and then go over to do Bigfoot on Sunday. I was hoping to do this trip quicker than the last time. Whilst we finished on the Sunday at 8.30pm, that was still better than the 11pm finish last time!
I have to say that the weather on the plateau was horrible, it was drizzling when we got to the jump off site, and I actually debated the advantage of just doing the one day (in the rain), but we figured, we were there, we should just go for it. Steve R, Omar S, John G, Andrew B and Bill R joined me.
Shortly after this, there was a bit of wading and then more constriction, I photographed all of this but with the rain on the lens, my photos were crap. After the wade, there was a very dodgy traverse over some logs to get through the constriction. When I last did this canyon, it was winter and we avoided all the pools, wades etc, so this constricted part was new.
Many years ago, I’d read in a Michael Keates book about a pass down into Constance Gorge, I’d tried walking down it about 10 years ago but was stopped by a drop of indeterminable height, so we turned back. I figured though that it had to “go” so we decided to use it as our access to Bigfoot.
We were through the canyon in about 3 hours, and because it took us longer than expected to reach the canyon, we were about an hour behind schedule. We had a quick lunch at Deanes Creek and then headed upstream. I’d estimated the upstream walk to take us about 2 hours, and it was pretty much spot on. We got back to camp, then took a well-deserved rest before packing up. It was at this point that I nixed the idea of going down to Tiger Snake exit (suggested by John), bad decision on my part, but I honestly recalled the walk out via the pass I’d used in the past as being relatively easy and quick. So we set off up Constance Gorge to the saddle.
I didn’t see the pass that I’d used in the past, but John knew of one that we headed for. We didn’t like the look of the slippery climb up a pagoda (even with a handline), but Andrew headed around the cliff-line and found a better pass.
Once up the top of the pass, we headed cross country towards the Tiger Snake track.
It took ages for us to finally reach the Tiger Snake exit track, every time we crested a rise, I thought to myself “this has got to be it”, but no, there was yet another one. It was with relief that we finally reached the track and we could each head back to the cars at our own pace.
I was absolutely stuffed by this time, my pack was heavy (wet abseil gear and clothes), and I hadn’t had any good food for quite a while (I had some in the pack but couldn’t stomach it). Bill stayed at the back of the pack with me, making sure I was ok, for which I’m eternally grateful. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as shattered as I did at the end of this walk, but, it was a 13 hour day (we reached the cars at 8.30pm – just on dark) so was not a big surprise! I was so stuffed, that I left my car at Zig Zag and Steve drove me to Marcia’s house, thankfully she was still awake when I called her so that I could stay the night at her place and drive home the next day.
I’d always wanted to do a wet trip through the unpublished canyon, have done it now, never have to go back (lol). Not sure that we were able to do the trip through Bigfoot any quicker than the last time, although I know people who do it as a day trip (would be a lot easier walking out without an overnight pack).
You’ll all be pleased to know that I looked at my wish list after this walk and crossed off a whole lot of trips that I’ve decided will be just TOO HARD. Still a lot on the wish list though. Thank you so much guys for coming on this adventure with me.