Participants: Jonno Downes, Yumeng (Alisa) Zhang , Tim Hanigan, Maj-Britt Engelhardt
Leader: Jonno Downes
Given the objective of trip was ‘look for Frank Walfords Cave’, I think we can call it a success. On the other hand, if the objective had been ‘find Frank Walfords Cave’….
As advertised, we did a fair amount of stomping around in thick scrub, close to various clifflines. We found hanging swamps, steep gullys, thick scrub and one very promising line of overhangs, with clear evidence of faint tracks along it, but not Walfords Cave. We eventually had lunch on a rocky outcrop at 532722 with amazing view across the creek to sheer cliff walls. Then we meandered back to the car at Point Pilcher, and chatted to an RFS crew about black lines, missing persons, and fractured sternums. From that discussion I learnt that the explosions of pink ribbon along side the road were marking areas that had been been searched as part of the ongoing recovery operation for an unfortunate Medlow Bath resident who disappeared last month.
We drove back past the airfield to Medlow Bath trig, took a firetrail round the back of the airfield to the start of Bruces Walk. There was a beribboned cairn on top of a large rock on which “Bruces Walk – Leura ->” was painted long ago. However there is no track at this spot – the actual start of Bruces Walk is another 25m down the firetrail – also marked by a cairn, with a brown and yellow bellied snake instead of pink ribbon.
Assuming you start in the right spot, Bruces Walk is easy to follow, although rough in places with a few easy scrambles down minor cliff lines. After a brief consultation, we decided to head downstream with a view to exiting via a track I knew the RFS had cut down to the creek in recent years. It started out with some easy rock hopping, eventually we gave up on attempting to keep feet dry and waded in knee deep water, then came a spot where the only way forward was through above-the-waist water, and sheer cliff walls prevented us from climbing up and around.
Another little conference occurred, before the consensus was reached to ‘press on, regardless’. Maj-Britt did excellent service in finding the best way through and carrying bags safely above the water. A little further on, we meet another deep pool, however this time one wall looked climbable. As Tim had previously outed himself as a climber, he was volunteered to push up the rock face while the rest of us bravely stayed below offering helpful advice. Once Tim had tied a handline around a few spindly saplings, we all climbed up afterwards. It was nice being out of the water, but now we were at the bottom of a steep soggy gully – it was a very slow slog pushing up the 100m till we got to the base of a cliff, which we sidled for a bit till finding an easyish scramble up, at the top of which we found the RFS track. 20 minutes later we were back at the car, and 15 minutes after that we were back at Katoomba train station.
A grand day, even if Walfords Cave will have to wait till another day…