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MY FIRST CANYONING TRIP , GLOUCESTER TOP'S "COOL AS"

Climbing over the guard rail we could hear the roar of the falls before us, but through the cloud could only see at least 5 metre's in front, it was a white out, a gust of wind blew through the hill's clearing part's of the cloud in a swirling motion as if there was a chopper hovering above, which gave a kind of mystical feeling to the place that mother nature can only do. On we walked along a jagged, narrow ridge with vertical drops either side, one wrong step and this would be very nasty indeed, although the free fall would be a buzz. Gingerly we made our way to the first abseil point every thing was so slippery, already having a sling there as an anchor point around a tree, Dug and Ken gave it a check over to make sure it would hold us, as the abseil is about 50 metres it wouldn't be at all pleasant to be just over the edge and have the sling or tree break, first Steve then Ken dropped down, there was a ledge about 5 metres down but from there down, it was vertical all the way too the river below.

As I waited I felt Quite relaxed, nothing like waiting my turn to exit from the plane for a skydive, that's more of an intense adrenalin hit feeling (and what a cool feeling it is) , where as sitting there in the bush smelling the fragrant bush smell's that it gives of when a little damp and listening to the waterfall roaring right next to where I was about to abseil down, you could feel the serenity! Anyway my turn came, so I hooked up my descender done my check's and down I went to the ledge, one little glance over my shoulder to the bottom of the waterfall, where I would be dropping into the water in about 30 seconds and off I went, yahoo!! , it was cool abseiling down and looking at the waterfall next to me, until a few feet above the water, when my thought's went to how cold is this water going to be and how easy will it be to unhook from my descender once I was in the water? Water temp was unexpectedly ok and after a bit of fiddling around I unhook no worries then a short swim to the fella's at the end of the pool aided by the buoyancy of my pack and wetsuit.

After Dug came down we had to pull the rope through, but as alway's something has to go wrong, the knot joining the ropes had snagged, so me and Ken clambered back up around the side of the waterfall and checked out the problem, I didn't need to be asked twice about having another go, the knot had gotten caught on a small tree root so I went first then Ken followed after sliding the knot past anything that it could be caught on, so the knot getting snagged was better for me as I got to go again, all good I think. From there to the next big enough waterfall to abseil down was a scramble over and through the slippery and slimy river rock's and river itself, all good fun for sure. The next abseil wasn't as big but sure was slippery, I was wearing my old blundstone slip on work boot's and they seemed to have plenty of grip so I didn't have a worry, the rope pulled through easy, on this one as there was a sling around a huge old tree which had fallen into the river above the waterfall and the next abseil was right in front of us with another sling already there as well, this time around a rock, this abseil was a little bigger but again very slippery.

We found a nice spot to have some lunch, the sun was even nice enough to show itself for a while, after lunch we continued down stream a bit further. I was scouting around a water run to find a way around and had a bit of a moment sliding down a steep rock wall, luckily I was able to grab a small shrub which stopped me from going any further, now that got the knee's trembling a bit, I met back with the other's and it was decided that if we were to go any further down, the day would turn into an epic, so unfortunately the last abseil would turn out to be the last for that day anyway). Due to a late start( 6am my place) we missed out on the best part that was to come, next time it is suggested that we stay in Munro hut for the night and be there earlier to do the lot

So next stage of the day was to climb our way out of this ravine that the river had made over the many year's, to an old forestry trail on the ridge way above, I have been up to this ridge from further down the river before and wasn't really looking forward to it at all, although last time we had to help up an injured person so this time proved to be a bit easier.  The climb out seem's to be in stage's, first the steepness coming straight from the river is a nice warm up, then you get the loose rock that want's to slide away like an avalanche, then the thick coral fern which you have to squash down (sorry Ken squashed down) to get through, it also hides the fallen tree's, after that comes the long and also thick cutting grass which also hides all sort's off surprises, by then we reach the trail all easy going then back to the car. Bit of a hard slog but well worth it.

Well there is a description of my first canyoning trip, it was that good that I have wrote my first small story( not sure if it's anygood) to tell how good of a time I had. I fully agree with Dug in saying that " it's not so much the abseiling but the magical places you get too by doing it", although the abseiling on the big drop's is all good. At less than $20 for the day after initial cost's of getting a harness and other gear it is a relative low budget but highly rewarding thing to do, and I was even home by 7 pm.   ROBERT SZERSZYN

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