Exploration Around Yileen Canyon - 16 January 2010

Map:- Mount Wilson 1:25,000

Beth and I had arraigned to take Rod for another canyon, we decided on Yileen.  Beth had been on another trip that didn't quite make it.  This time I insisted she and Rod navigate in.  A little unfair perhaps, because she didn't have the grid reference for the canyon start (I have posted a third edition of the Canyon Book today).  We met at the Mt Wilson turn off from Bell Line Of Road at about 09:30.  A pleasant sunny day now, but with forecast of thunderstorms in the afternoon.  We left one car at Pierces Pass car park and returned to the jump off point 100m past Mt Wilson turn off.

A pleasant wander southish along the ridge system to pick up the spur that leads to Yileen.  The views from here are magnificent, in the far distance the Sydney urban landscape, in the near distance the fantastic glow of the many cliff faces that make up Gross Valley, nearby the strange rock formations of ironstone left from the weathering sandstone where they stick out above the forest.

Where the track turns west the navigators notice the side foot track that leads south and deduce that this is the Yileen track, which I agree with.  This track leads us to a spur that gives us our first glimpse of the valleys that form the Yileen Canyon.  As we descend we find a place where the track splits one side going sw the other sse down the spur.  I have not seen this track before so we decide to follow it to see where it went (I encouraged this because I thought it would be easy to get back to Yileen if it didn't lead there).   Pleasant easy walking, on the track, through the open heath of the spur.  We eventually decided that this track was defiantly going into Pierces Creek and I suggested we back-track up onto the ridge and look for a way into Yileen.

We eventually found a way into a side creek without using ropes and found our way through a short canyon section to what I thought was the main creek.  When we got to this main creek we could not fine the track I expected, mmmm.  Oh well perhaps this is another side creek, we couldn't get the compass bearing for creek direction that fitted to the map where I thought we were.  When the creek started to descend more steeply we called a halt.  Time for a drink and a nibble (when in doubt brew up – old army saying).   Has been a pleasant day so far but cloud is building to the south and we hear thunder, mmm.  We decide to back-track and gain the ridge to our west which we do easily further back up the valley.  As we gain height the thunder increases and the rain starts.  We sheltered briefly under a tree, before continuing, we were getting wet anyway (not worth getting shelter out of the pack - we'll get wet from the scrub anyway).   On the ridge top we resection and triangulate our position, and head to find the rout into Yileen.  Hang on this ridge is descending; were not where we thought.

As we dropped down it became obvious that there was a cliff-lined gully in front of us. We discussed what to do and Rod and Beth thought to go east to head this gully, I concurred.  We did head the gulley and found ourselves easily climbing to the next ridge top.  All we needed to do from here was head north and east to walk to the road.  On the way we tried to keep on the ridge top but that was leading us more west of the intended track, than intended.  However at about the right time we could hear traffic noises from ahead. (I did tell the story of the natives who had heard about the sirens of ancient Greece who lured ships up onto the rocks by singing.  Instead of singing this mob played traffic noises to lure walkers to their doom :-)).  After a while of walking with the traffic noises becoming clearer and clearer, the ridge started to drop ahead, which is where Rod spotted the cars passing along the ridge top - about 3/4km away ahead.  In front of us we were starting to discern a deep chasm cliff-lines each side, mmmmm. 

The scenery on all of this walk is magnificent, hills and dales, cliffs, forest, sky with fascinating clouds, ground orchids, flowers, fantastic vegetation, brightly coloured fungi, abundant bird life, lizards, skinks, bearded dragons, whow!

A study of maps, a pointing of compasses, a scratching of heads, a lot of mm ahhs, and we all agree the way to go is east.  After walking that way further that I expected we saw a possible way across the chasm.  On the way we spoted the north South ridge that I was looking for, but it looks closer to just go straight ahead, north.   After all this adventure we come out right at the car, mmmm :-).  Soaking wet and a little tired we climb in and drove down to Pierces pass car park where all the dry clothes are.

Thank you Rod and Beth for a great trip, we didn't get where we intended, but we walked some great country.  Very importantly Beth and Rod gained some navigation skills which will eventually make them "getting lost proof".  I hope that this gives you confidence to back your own judgement, in particular don't let old codgers lead you astray in the bush.  I found out a lot more about this area, which I'm glad about.  I asked where the track goes on the Ozcanyoners forum and a reply suggested it the return track to the cars up Pierces Creek.  This was what I was wondering, although the map did suggest to me that it was rugged in there which is why I hadn't explored.  Overall a great trip, till next time (I have promised to lead the next trip to Yileen directly and not go exploring, hope you can make it). © dug Floyd January 2010.


ps I went to a party that evening and about 21:00 Keith the BWRS head honcho called, a callout tomorrow at Hazelbrook, start 08:00am, search for an elderly man.   mmmm, my clothes are all wet, I don't have a uniform, I don't have the maps with me, ahhh stuff it I'll do it:-)

pps Keith also gave me a dressing down (a very polite one as always with keith, I might say) about being more careful with navigation to make sure I'm not subject of a search :~)