Little Crater Ridge
17/03/2007 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay
At a coffee stop at Mash in Glenbrook I pulled out the maps and gave Rachel the choice. A loop up Glenbrook Creek and Kanuka Brook to Red Hands Cave and back via Camp Fire Creek, or a loop via Pisgah Rock and Erskine Creek to Dadder Cave, and then over Little Crater Ridge to the Jack Evans Track and exit. Since we had done some of Glenbrook Creek a couple of weeks before, Rachel went for the Erskine Creek option.
There was another party organising a car shuffle as we pulled into the car park at the start of Tierneys Track to Pisgah Rock. We had a quick chat with them. They were heading down the same way as us, but going via Erskine Creek to the Jack Evans Track to camp that night. Sounded like an easy day!
We set off ahead of them and soon reached Pisgah Rock. Rachel was already looking for the descent route, so after a very brief stop for photos we headed down a rocky chute. The path was mostly obvious, usually turning into a choice between an easier scramble and a harder scramble. After half a dozen or so scrambles we hit the track proper above Monkey Ropes Creek and walked the last few hundred metres to the Lincoln Creek junction.
It was pretty warm already, so I stripped down and had a brief dip in the large pool at the junction to cool off. Then we set off on the west side on a track which teased us, mostly petering out, but giving us just enough hint of a path through the shrubbery to keep going. Eventually we reached a crossing spot and we switched banks to the east side. This was easy going, excellent walking on mostly open rocky ledges. I couldn't remember exactly where Dadder Cave was and consulted the map to make sure we hadn't passed it. I needn't have worried. It was pretty obvious once we reached it. I had a read of the visitor's book and entries I had made years ago while we ate lunch. The last comment I could find about Little Crater Ridge was about scrub, and taking 8 hours to cover 4km, which made me a little nervious.
After lunch we continued upstream for a few hundred metres to the small nameless creek that was to be our exit point up on to the tops. Only a short way up a slippery waterfall barred our progress. Rachel wanted to give it a go climbing, but backed off after a few slimy metres. Around the side and up a series of ledges we climbed instead, emerging on to the steep but open spur. A few small clifflines barred our progress, but we were able to breach these with a shower of only a few loose rocks and sticks. Soon we were up on the point, puffing and panting in the heat. My fitness had suffered somewhat in my four months of convalescense, and the steep climb was testing it. However, we could see just one more cliff above us, so after a brief stop we pushed on.
How appearances can be deceiving! Several cliff lines later we were on the true point, with spectacular views up and down Erskine Creek. It had been somewhat more effort than expected. Rachel was wondering if she would make it! However, retreating looked like an unpalatable option.
With a break behind us, we headed into the scrub along the ridge. The wide featureless ridge offered little in the way of views, and only head high scrub. Thankfully the scrub was light and progress was quick, and we were off the side ridge and on to the main ridge in a very short space of time. This was equally quick, even open at times, and we soon dropped off on our descent spur back down to Erskine Creek. A bit of lazy navigation almost had us heading in the wrong direction, but the GPS came to the rescue and the compass had us back on track. We traversed alongside plenty of high cliffs, unmarked on the map despite its 10m contours, and then dropped steeply to a knoll above the last descent to the creek. A 40m cliff, again unmarked, greeted us, and we were forced to sidle into the side creek which I had hoped to avoid. As we cut back under the cliff, the heavens opened and the rain came pouring down. A small cave in the cliff offered the salvation of dryness, which we willingly accepted, consuming snacks until the rain eased off enough to venture out.
Unfortunately this made the rocks wet and slippery, and every tree used for balance gave a free shower. A sharp sting on my hand made me jump. A small grey spider was biting me, and I slapped it off, shaking my hand painfully. With the rock so slippery, we gave up keeping high, and headed down into the side creek. The mass of greenery hinted at lawyer vines, nettles and fern covered rotting logs, and we weren't disappointed. Thankfully the plant matter was more of a shallow wade than the deep swim it appeared, and after not too many nicks and cuts we emerged at a small grassy clearing at the junction with Erskine Creek. Surely we would have a track from here!
If there was, we couldn't find it, so we continued to clamber over slippery rocks and under branches. On one slippery rock Rachel let out a cry of pain, and I almost panicked, thinking she had twisted her knee. Luckily (well, relatively), the slip had caused her to bash her shin hard on a rock - a painful but temporary problem. At least it was only a couple of hundred metres to where we were able to cross Erskine Creek. My shoes were already sodden, so I simply waded in, balancing on some branches to avoid swimming. Upstream we could see the party that we met earlier in the day swimming in the rain. Once on the other side, I had a quick dip, and then it was only five metres until we were finally back on a proper track.
It certainly made for an easy walk out! The rain continued to fall all the way back to the car, where we had conveniently forgotten to leave a change of clothes. Ah well.
Back in Glenbrook we put back all of the weight we had walked off with afternoon tea at a cafe. I had a disgustingly rich Mars Bar cheesecake which I could barely finish.
© Tom Brennan : firstname.lastname@example.org : updated 2007-03-17