Participants: Paul, Kaushalya, Olivia, Lauren, Elizabeth, Ana, Wendy, Ruell, Joel
Leader: Paul
Date: 6/4/2014

This was a ‘suitable for beginners’ trip to learn canyoning skills. We assembled at the Browns Siding Café in Medlow Bath at 10.00 for coffee and second breakfast before the short drive to the beginning of the walk. It had been raining heavily in Sydney, but by the time we got to the mountains the skies had cleared to a pleasant day of drifting cloud and patches of sunlight.

We began with a long, and hopefully not too boring, theory session – parts of a harness and their uses, use of safety lines and other safety protocols. Then we fixed a rope to the nearest tree and learnt to install the various different descenders we were using and how to lock them off during descent. Having mastered the theory we set off eagerly on the short walk into the canyon to practice our skills.

After the heavy rain on Friday the little cascades in the creek were running beautifully, but not enough to mean more than wet feet. We had scrambled down the first waterfall when I (Paul) suddenly felt as if someone had kicked me very hard in the left calf. Then I had an intense pain in that area and could barely hobble. As the nice doctor at the Katoomba hospital later explained, I had torn my calf muscle (gastrocnemius muscle). It’s a common sports injury when running and jumping, but a bizarre thing to happen when just walking along.

After pooling our first aid knowledge, and choosing painkillers and application of a support bandage by Lauren, eager to practice her skills from last Fridays’ RAFA course, we decided I should sit and eat chocolate, whilst the others scrambled around the next waterfall and explored the canyon as far as the first abseil point. After about an hour everyone was back, having at least had some fun scrambling and seen a bit of a canyon environment. Then we walked back to the cars, me hobbling with a stick while Wendy kindly carried my pack. At this point it started to drizzle, which made us a feel a bit better about cutting the day short, so we said goodbye and everyone went home, except Elizabeth who very kindly drove me to hospital as I couldn’t press the clutch pedal.

Apologies to everyone for cutting their day short, and thanks for being so nice about it!

Paul Griffiths