Party: Josie, Hussein and Nick
Leader: Josie
Date: 4-5/3/2017

I write this trip report mostly to confess to a major stuffup for young members of the club to note.

Seven walkers signed up at the start of the week, but after 2 illnesses and 2 complete smokebombs (possibly influenced by the forecast but it would still be nice to let me know), 3 of us met at Parramatta at 7am. In the process of moving my stuff from my car to Nick’s, I put my boots down on his garage floor. I then left them there.

We trundled into Dunphy’s campsite at the efficient hour of 9:10, only to go…. Where the fuck are the boots? Piking was not an option, and neither were thongs, so we headed up to the only shop I know in Blackheath: Big John’s Climbing Equipment. Miraculously they had a single pair of comfy approach shoes in my size, and at 50% off. Hussein’s spare socks fitted me, so we hared off down the mountain again, opening and closing all the gates for the third time.

We started walking properly at 10:30, and zoomed up the firetrail, stopping here and there for navigation practice for the beginners. Although the rain had stopped, Mt Mouin was in cloud every time I saw it, so I elected to give it a miss as there wouldn’t be a view anyway, and just head up further round and hope. At the junction I was surprised to see shiny metal signs pointing the directions for Kanangra to Katoomba. I’ve always found it special that the area didn’t have signs, even if it results in navigational embarrassment at times. They didn’t seem to appear further in though.

We had lunch at the top of Warrigal Gap and wandered around the Wombat’s Parade, where Hussein noted that a worm had bitten him, and it was bleeding. We introduced Hussein to his new best friend for the weekend, the leech. As Nick was explaining “they come up from your shoes, so you only really need to check your ankles”, I found one so high on my hip under my shorts that I sidled off to the loo, just to…. you know…. check.

We  tramped up Mt Merrimerrigal and Mt Dingo in fog and I attempted to sell the others on the sweeping views that would normally be seen.  When we got out to Splendour Rock, it was raining in earnest and we could barely see out over the edge of the cliff, never mind Kanangra. We scribbled in the logbook and voted to head back to Mobbs Swamp. The cave was a very welcome sight to very wet walkers at about 5pm.

We had a pleasant night playing cards on the handy tarp someone left there, and a little fire. When we first got to the cave entrance we each had to fight off a few extra leeches, but it seemed they didn’t like entering very far, and we weren’t harassed in our tents, thank goodness.

The next morning, I was sad to see the rain had now stopped and the sky was just cloudy again, since we weren’t on the tops, but at least we were able to enjoy the views from the end of Black Horse Ridge.

Carlon’s Creek had a lot less nettles than I remembered (but many more leeches), and the track was clearer in general – more traffic? I fucked up the exit, as I have done before – how many different ways can you go off track in the same square kilometre? We went past the exit and ended up on Iron Pot Ridge track, to the west of the camping area. In my defence, we were walking much faster than expected because of the leeches, and everyone was reluctant to stop and look at the map for the same reason. But there’s nothing like a savage uphill bash to make you appreciate a boring bit of undulating firetrail, so it was in a good mood that we arrived back at the car. I particularly enjoyed the large numbers of kangaroos and wallabies we saw in the farmland.

Thanks to Nick and Hussein for good spirits on their first overnight walk, despite the slightly trying conditions and frequent fallibility of the leader!

Lessons Learnt:

  • Put your sodding boots on before you leave the sodding house
  • Mad Rock approach shoes are not a bad walking shoe
  • Take a grain of salt when anyone says “it’ll still be great in the rain!”. And some leech repellent.