07/02/2010 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Brennan
Our week off to do some adventuring was already looking a bit grim. Friday and Saturday had been pouring with rain and we had already postponed our plan to go and spend a few days in the lower reaches of Rocky Creek twice. On Saturday night we decided we'd try and give liloing the Colo a go, despite the fact that the river was up almost 3 metres. I figured that even if it was too dangerous, it would be interesting to see the Colo in flood.
On the way out we stopped at the Colo River bridge, where the water was flowing pretty swiftly. It was a bit hard to tell from above though. I had it in my mind that any faster than walking pace was probably going to be dodgy.
As we arrived at the Bob Turners Track car park, we were very surprised to see another car parked there. We assumed that they must be doing the same as us - gawking at the river, or trying to lilo it. It drizzled pretty much all the way down the track. We were both pretty soaked by the bottom, despite rain jackets. The river had completely covered the normal camp site. I started to wade out, but it looked like it would be several metres deep at the usual bank.
We could hear some voices up in the bush, but instead of investigating, bashed our way through the scrub to a rock platform overlooking the river. Out in the middle it was flowing fast, maybe 10km/h. However, the river was so deep that the rapid at the end of the pool was completely submerged.
After a bit of debate, we decided to give it a go. The determining factor would be whether we could paddle to the other side of the river and back or not. If not, then I figured there was no way we could avoid potential trouble.
We blew up our lilos and with some trepidation climbed down into the water. Even on the edge amongst the trees there was a bit of current and I had to hold on to a branch to avoid floating away. A little paddle and we were off, the current picking us up and whisking us downstream. I paddled vigorously out into the middle of the river. It was some effort to even get into the main flow, as there was a significant shear effect with the current, which was difficult to cross. I managed to get into the middle and started paddling for the other bank. I made little progress, and quickly made the decision to abort. We had no control, and any rapid or siphon would be a disaster. Rachel had not even managed to cross the shear, and was able to pull out some distance upstream. I made it back to the bank, and waded through the trees to dry ground. We deflated our lilos, disappointed, but happy that we'd given it a go.
I had a bit of an explore for caves in the vicinity, then we started back up the track still dressed in our wetsuits. On the way up we passed a dad and two young daughters who had been camped down there overnight. Luckily they had camped on a small flat above the main camping area, which by morning was underwater! Given the weather, it was quite surprising that we passed another group walking in near the top, and another car pulling up just as we were leaving.
A fun if somewhat aborted trip.