North West Trip Day Three Part Four – Weano and Hancock Gorge

We had completed the restricted part of our gorge adventure as soon as we unclipped our safety ropes at the end of the cow-tail. We found ourselves at the end of the class five category walk in Hancock Gorge – Kermit’s Pool. The landscape in this part of the gorge was very different to what we experienced in the previous gorge with the pathway being very narrow and the walls rising high above us. The rock face was very smooth and had been well worn over many wet seasons, I was again reminded as the water still freely flowed over a small water fall down into Regan’s Pool below, that I wouldn’t want to get caught in a flash flood in these gorges when it was raining (apparently a local is quoted as saying to have seen the water level rise over 10 metres in under three minutes).

As Pete packed up the rigging and prepared it for us to re-strap to our backs we were able to explore the area around Kermit’s Pool. Brendan took the time to look for a nice place to sit further up the gorge whilst Melis found a ledge to lie on and I tried to find a little bit of sun to try and warm up a bit. Unfortunately with the time of day it was by now (after 4pm) the sun had vanished from this part of the gorge due to the walls being too narrow and steep leaving us in complete shadow.

After Pete had packed up the ropes we regrouped and were briefed that although the most dangerous part of the journey had finished that we still had to take car as we continued to head back to the car park where we parked. We were told that many people having completed the restricted part had slipped on the rocks by and through the level five walk and it was possible to sprain and ankle still, we had to take our time and give the gorge the respect it still deserved. We kitted up with our ropes on our backs as we had back at the start of the day and started off towards the car. Very quickly we found ourselves again getting wet (but not too deeply) as the gorge narrowed and it was impossible to pass anyway but through a gap less than a mtre in width. This part of the gorge was know as a Spider Walk, being a specific walking style we could do through this part if we liked. Spider Walking required us to pull ourselves up out of the water and spread our legs so that one was n either side of the rock face with the water body inbetween. From this position we walked about 20 metres above the water carefully looking for good positions to place our feet. The end of the spider walk we were met with another expanse of water, this one not too deep, which we needed to travel through to continue towards the exit point.

The next phase of Hancock Gorge saw the width of the gorge open up a lot more, the rock formations changed to be a lot deeper red in colour but one thing remained, the terrain was still challenging to move over meaning care had to be taken to avoid injury. We were still in the class 5 walk meaning that experience of trail was needed and that the path was not well marked. With Pete in front of us we continued on our way having to climb over many rocks and up small cliff faces that overhung the stream running through the centre of the gorge. It was at this point we came across some tourists heading in the opposite direction, they sounded like they were from Germany, their attire was an interesting selection for the terrain with the blokes int he group wearing thongs (flip-flops for Poms) on their feet. After Pete had directed them with how far they could go down we continued on our way.

A little further down the path became a little easier to navigate, this was the start of the class 4 walk in Hancock Gorge. The terrain still commanded our respect, and after a short stop for another cup of tea and refreshment we continued on our journey. Throughout this part of the gorge we saw many wonderful sights including small waterfalls and pristine waters so clear and unblemished that I am sure you would be able to drink from them without any worry of catching anything. The terrain continued to slope upwards as we headed up the gorge towards our goal and there was more and more opportunity for us to spread out a little and find our own path through the gorge with numerous opportunities for rock climbing up small ledges.

Before we knew it we came to a ladder that had been built into the side of the gorge, this was our exit point from Hancock Gorge, the beginning of the climb up to the car-park waiting above. The hike up out of the gorge was quite a steep one and had most of the group puffing for air due to the speed we did it at, it is listed as a class four walk still (so it isn’t too easy). within five minutes we were back at the top of the gorge and heading to the car park where we had started the day.

Upon reaching the car park Pete signed us off with the DEC as being out of the gorge safely and that there had been no one else spotted won there. After helping him pack up the various bits of equipment we got back into “Anzac Annie” and headed back to the base camp. As we were driving we stopped to overlook the sun setting across the Savannah, the colours of red mixed with various shades of blue and purple were quite incredible and awe inspiring.

Back at base camp we were able to get changed out of our wet gear and back into our usual clothes. We had a hot cup of tea waiting for us which enjoyed under the gas heater that is at Pete’s campsite. As we chatted about the day that had been Pete went to work preparing a slide show of the entire day’s travels through the gorges which can be watched below.

After we had enjoyed our cup of tea and reminisced on all the days adventures we were dropped back at the Eco Retreat reception area where we quickly moved off to our separate tents to have showers and try and get warm before dinner. The showers were a welcome site for both Melissa and myself, after being appropriately warmed up we headed back to the visitors centre to join mum and dad for dinner. This was followed by heading back to the tents where we all turned in for the night. Tomorrow was going to be Sunday, we had planned to head into Tom Price to attend mass, for this to occur we were going to have to be up and in the car by 6:45am.

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