[SUBW] Trip Report, Red Rocks, 15-16 July 2017

Ashley Eylenburg ashley.eylenburg at gmail.com
Wed Jul 26 22:56:15 AEST 2017


                Red Rocks, 15-16 July 2017



Ashley Burke

Christian Wilson

Emilie Wilkie

Joel Johnsson

Josephine Roper

Nolan Wu

Patrick Wark

Savannah Montenegro




In the leadup to this trip I was expecting subzero temperatures at Newnes on
the Friday night and a frigid but clear night on the Saturday. But in the
end surprisingly mild conditions awaited us at Newnes when we arrived late
on the Friday evening. A train delay meant that my carload arrived rather
late, and it was midnight before we settled into our sleeping bags.


Next morning we woke to overcast skies with a hint of drizzle, but the
promise of improving weather for the weekend. I quickly located the other
people in the group who had arrived at Newnes at various times on the
preceding evening. With all of us finally gathered, breakfasted and ready,
it was time to head off.


The first stage of the walk was the hardest, with a steep climb on loose and
uneven ground, and imposing cliffs blocking the way above. A steep sidle
into a gully and then slow climbing against the base of the cliffs was
required until the cliff line weakened enough for us to scramble up a fallen
log and finally onto a plateau. Light rain fell intermittently as we pressed
steadily upwards. Our efforts were rewarded when we emerged suddenly onto
spectacular clifftops overlooking Little Capertee Creek and the Wolgan
Valley beyond. The first patches of blue sky were seen and yet the dampness
hung, the deep valley verdant and green with wisps of low cloud lingering
around the base of the opposing cliffs.


We were now on the plateau with the bulk of the climbing behind us, and it
was easy ridge walking in fairly open country for a while, until the first
pagodas were encountered. There is some clambering and route finding in this
section, as the intricate pagodas along this ridge offer some short steps,
drops and climbs. It was here that the first of the weekend's 3 incidents
occurred. There was one short downclimb that most people jumped. Chris did
the same, only landed a little off balance and grazed the side of his face
on the coarse sandstone. What's more, the jolt of landing caused some lower
back pain.


So we stopped here for an early lunch while Chris recovered and while we
assessed the situation. The graze on the temple was nothing to worry about,
but the sore lower back would cause Chris some pain for the remainder of the
trip and afterwards. Fortunately after resting and stretching his back for a
while, and with most of his pack's weight being offloaded to the rest of us,
he was able to walk on with a light pack. But before we headed off, the
second of the weekend's 3 incidents occurred, again involving Chris. A tooth
filling dropped out of his mouth, leaving behind a crater where the filling
used to be. We all agreed that Chris should make a dental appointment as
soon as he got back to the big smoke.


The trip nonetheless continued, and after passing a delicate arch, we
reached the slopes of Mt Dawson. We dropped packs and headed to the summit
for superb panoramic views of the Red Rocks, the sweeping vistas of the
Capertee Valley, and the labyrinthine pagoda country surrounding the Wolgan
Valley. Superb views indeed, and by now the cloudy skies were breaking up
and periods of weak sunlight came through. We continued north along the Red
Rocks, enjoying frequent superb views, until we reached a particularly nice
rock platform with the potential to camp among nearby trees. It wasn't yet
4pm but because it was such a nice place we decided to camp here and enjoy
the beautiful late afternoon light.


Time was spent setting up camp, although firewood collection was simply a
matter of kicking a few sticks into a pile, there was so much wood. Then it
was time to take our cameras to the nearby rocks and photo faff as the sun
lowered. The sun drops quickly and early at this time of year, but tonight
the sun gave a last magical display before the night closed in, a
spectacular flaming sunset that lit the fluffy clouds in crimson, orange and
yellow spread amongst the steel twilight grey. A fire was lit, the stars
came out and even though we were in the depths of winter, conditions were
surprisingly mild. You could venture away from the fire to admire the milky
way before the moon came up.


Next morning the lighting was softer, with pinks and orange-greens at 7am as
the sun rose and lit the smooth trunks of nearby trees in gold. We were
having a relaxed and leisurely breakfast when the third and fortunately last
of the weekend's incidents occurred. Once again, and quite inexplicably
perhaps, it was yet again Chris who was the victim. He was fiddling with his
gas stove (gas stove in the Red Rocks? I hear you ask) near the cheerful
fireside, and there was the hiss of gas coming from the stove-canister
interface. Then of course the fire jumped and engulfed poor Chris in a
momentary ball of fire. The rest of us exclaimed in surprise, stove and
canister were both dropped and rolled away, Chris jumped back, and then it
was over. The gas had had its day and was gone, leaving nothing more than a
few singed hairs and injured pride. Fortunately there would be no more Chris
incidents today.


And so we set off at a leisurely pace to complete the Red Rocks traverse as
far as The Room. There were many fantastic views, an awesome little ravine,
some spectacular pagoda scrambling, and The Pagoda Of Death, a steep descent
on rock steps that looks harder than it is but required some pack passing.
It was a truly spectacular morning walk. We enjoyed an early lunch at the
sunny balcony of The Room, and then retraced our steps a little to a point
from where we could descend back to Newnes. It was a beautiful sunny day
today with barely a cloud in the sky. We lingered long at our lovely lunch


After a couple of hours more walking down a very pleasant valley we arrived
back at Newnes by about 2:30pm and so we were on our way home while it was
still light and enjoyed the spectacular drive up the Wolgan Valley with its
familiar landmarks including Donkey Mountain and Woolpack Rock before
heading back to Sydney.


A great weekend enjoyed by all.


Ashley Eylenburg

Email: ashley.eylenburg at gmail.com

Internet:  <http://members.ozemail.com.au/~aburke>


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