Ashley River Splash
Sunday 15 January 2023
It was good that the trip was moved from Saturday to Sunday as it gave the river another day to go down to 5 cumecs from a high of 17 on the Thursday. ECAN told us the morning water temperature was 17°C and the flow was ideal for us trampers/kids at heart! We got to Ashley Gorge camp ground, prepped ourselves in our tramping gear and made sure all had dry clothes left in Kerry's car for the end of the trip. Tim’s and Graeme’s cars transported our eight to the middle bridge in Lees Valley where the splash-down commenced.
Straight into the water, it was pleasantly fresh at first but seemed to warm up as the day progressed. Half of us had poles which proved very useful on slippery boulders and to steady us against the current. Those without, soon acquired Gandalf sticks from the flood debris to counter mother nature’s forces. We thought it might be interesting to try to count how many times we crossed the river, but by the morning tea stop it was well over 20 and then we forgot to keep a tally, plus you can't really count wading down the river or floating down-river as a crossing. At one stage we broke into two groups. Being in the back group I looked ahead and noticed the four up-front, climbing over a rocky bank beside the river, resembling a scene from The Hobbit.
(I have a theme going here).
At a lovely lunch spot on a gravel bank by rapids, we energized ourselves for the afternoon section. We came across a number of very deep pools where all but our heads got wet and our packs kept us afloat. These bits went unrecorded because all cameras were carefully stowed. Towards the end we were thinking, next bend, next bend. Smartphone GPS navigation, if we had it, was sealed away from the water, so we were guessing how far we had to go. Finally, we saw other people enjoying the river, we were back to civilization with boom boxes and all. We got to a crowded Ashley Gorge camp at 4.15pm. Drivers quickly changed and were shuttled by Kerry to get the two other cars. Boots got a good stretch and clean, for some, maybe the last use. Those with shoes and no gaiters emptied the sand and gravel out. The 5 cumec flow made us look for the best crossing points, so the day gave us a useful lesson in fording a river. On top of that, this was a good, fun day for: Graeme Nicholas (leader), Kerry Moore, Jane Liddle, S-P Wang, Kyung Sang Lee, Tim Hines, Andrea Goebel and Sonya Donaldson. [SD]