The Gorge Walk

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We woke to mountains of mist. Looking out our window this morning you’d never know we’re surrounded by beautiful mountains.

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It’s a bit cold and bleak this morning but we’re essentially sitting in some clouds. I want to do the gorge walk today and it’s supposed to be 5-6 hours so if we’re going to do it, we need to leave soon. It’s not raining, just misty so we decided to give it a go see how we go. We wander down to the reception and sign the hiking book – snow shoes – N, overnight tent – N etc. Hmm…I’m ticking a lot of N’s here.

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We walk for about an hour – it’s still misty, tiniest bits of rain but we still can’t see a thing – the mist isn’t lifting but it’s still only 9am. We’re walking around the other side of the mountain we climbed yesterday. We decide we should walk till 10 and then re-evaluate – if nothing else we’ll get a 4 hour walk in. About 1/2 hour later it starts to rain but we also start to hit patches of rainforest like cover. We hang out here till it lightens up again and set off.

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We can see bits of mountain through the mist but the hiking map is next to useless in terms of landmarks so we have no idea how far along we are. The walking notes were – follow the obvious path till you hit the river – guess we keep doing that.

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We hit 10am and we can hear a lot more water – hmm..can’t hurt to go a bit further – we’re a little damp but not really wet. We walk a bit further still trying to guess how far we are. We see a nice rock overhang that is dry as the rain starts up again so head for that. The sound of the water is loud now.

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We don’t see any more path so we conclude we must have made it to the river crossing – the trip notes say there’s only 1600m left and most people turn around now – but we’ve come this far. So down the rock embankment and through the first river crossing – it’s not that bad and we hardly get our feet wet. There’s a cold breeze coming up the gorge. We walk up the left side of the river for a bit and hit the 2nd creek crossing – it’s ok with a bit of jumping from rock to rock but then there’s a big gap. The water is an amazing blue colour bit it’s also very cold.

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John jumps and only gets one foot wet – too easy. Forgetting I’m not 6’4” he’s convincing me it’s not that bad…I jump but end up with both feet in the river in a jump that gives off the biggest splash like a kid purposely jumping in a puddle – I get water everywhere. Walking a bit further our final crossing – this one we basically walk through shallow water to the other side.

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Walking, walking I’m starting to get cold with my damp clothes and this wind coming down the gorge.

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We spot the chain ladder – which is chain and wood and very wet. The other option is “the tunnel” which I’ve seen pictures of and looks pretty – in the dry. Now it’s got a bunch of water running down it. John goes up the chain ladder and the top is just mud, mud and more mud – scratch that idea. I’m really cold now and want to head back.

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John goes for a look in the tunnel. It’s John knee deep freezing water for about 100 metres. I’m really not keen – I’m really cold and don’t fancy walking through cold water that far twice so we head back – back through our 3 river crossings which we don’t mind getting as wet now that we are already pretty wet, back up the gorge rock wall and out of the main bit of wind.

Of course it’ raining now, and the path is just mud so we’re picking up the pace to get back to our warm cabin and hot shower. About 1 1/2 hours back, we run into another group on their way to the gorge – 1pm seems a bit late to me to be heading there but they have rain jackets and much warmer clothes than us – still they look pretty cold and miserable. The grass on the track is really long, cold and wet and it whacks against our legs on the track. My shorts are drenched from the grass, my shirt is drenched from the rain and my shoes are drenched from the creek. My rain jacket really wouldn’t have helped much here – my hands, feet and legs which are the coldest still would have got just as wet and cold. We go round the bend of the ridge and I know it’s not far now. Soon we spot our initial bridge at the bottom of the hill – close now. Across the bridge and up the steep hill – this is why I hate doing valley hikes – uphill at the end when you’re tired hurts.

Back to the reception to sign back in – John’s fingers are cold and has trouble signing his name. Up the rest of the hill to our cabin and hot shower, then hot food! The rain has really picked up now and it pours down the rest of the afternoon and night. So much for an afternoon drive. I think Sentinel’s Peak will be out for tomorrow.