Friday, January 05, 2007


Blue Mtns Christmas (3) So much for the canyoning

THIS is where we were headed.. Bells Creek Canyon. One Marc and I have done before (once at night! - because of the glowworms! - that was the best Valentines day ever, that!), and we felt that it was doable by the girls. No abseiling required, just some climb downs (and Marc bought some new hand line). Wetsuits and lilos, and most importantly Dunlop volleys were the other prerequisites. (Another volleys link.) No way would we take the girls canyoning without a pair of volleys. Because of my ineptitude in pre-buying one more lilo before we left Coffs - and you want the rubberised cotton ones which are harder to come by these days, what with the luxury camping demand for the velour coated variety- we spent the day before trailing up and down the shops in Katoomba looking for one, and ended up having to hire one from an adventure tour company.

Marc had been keeping a close eye on the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) website, and the predictions were looking good for Thursday.

We left Zoe with Nana and Aunty the night before, and were up and at 'em in the morning.. borrowing said Aunty's car (as the route involves a car shuffle.) I was still coughing.. but had been dosing up with antibiotics, cough medicine, and sinus/hayfever tabs. I wasn't going to miss this if it killed me. And the weather was P-E-R-F-E-C-T.

Off we went. We had to drive into Mt Wilson to leave one car, then retrace our steps to our starting point. While this canyon is one of the ones probably closest to a main road, the last times we had done it there was still no track to it, so a bit of navigation and bush-bashing was always required. (In hindsight I wish this was still the case.) Marc thought he'd be clever and see if a fire trail on the map was one we used to meet up with.. but we ended up on the wrong ridge, and so had to backtrack up (I knew it was up because going up brought on the coughing.)

We sidled around to follow the right ridge, and came across a narrow track that had obviously been created by the various adventure tour companies that now take a lot of groups on canyons in the Blue Mountains area. Oh well, easier walking we thought, so we were making pretty good time. Up and down a couple of knolls.. then suddenly Alison trips over, and then we hear the wail as she holds her right hand in her left hand. Initial reaction (as typical parents) was the rolled eyes, an impatient 'let me see', ready to dust her off and keep going. Marc took one look, gasped, and immediately used his shirt to stop the bleeding. She had a gash in the 'webbing' between her pinkie and ring finger, and it continued down maybe 2 cm onto the pad of her palm. She had landed with her hand on a sapling that had been macheted off roughly at ground level, leaving, basically, a sharp stake.

We took another look, and exchanged a look of despair. We couldn't tell how deep it was, but it wasn't the sort of injury you could take canyoning.. in the water, or scrambling down rocks and handlines. We weren't going any further on this canyon. We found a pad in the first aid kit, and bandaged her hand up, and turned back to the car. And cursed the fools that had to hack these tracks in.. Seriously, if we'd been bush bashing, I don't think it would have happened.

Another car shuffle back into Mt Wilson that we wouldn't have had to do.. then back to Blackheath (dump Caitlin) then onto Accident & Emergency at Katoomba Hospital.

By the time she was seen, the gash/slice/cut (whatever you want to call it) didn't look quite as bad.. The Dr did um and ah over what to do... particularly between the fingers. Not deep enough for stitches.. in the end he used glue for the bit on the palm of her hand, and gave her the instructions she'd been dreading - don't get it wet for a week. When you're an 11 yr old water baby, and it's summer, and there's a pool near your Nana's holiday house, and a beach back home, that's not what you want to hear. I had to talk to her about perspective - I mean.. what if she'd broken a leg or something? And as it's turned out, the weather gods have smiled upon her, and treated us all to cool and/or rainy weather even up till today when she could be swimming again! Now we just have to stop her catching balls and the like for another week.

And the canyoning? I guess it'll keep. Next year maybe? Another Blue Mountains Christmas, perhaps? Or at least get down there in January.

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