The river has risen by two inches from yesterday’s storm. The rise in water level allows me to begin paddling the kayak. In some places the river becomes shallow such that I need to get out of the kayak and move back into a deeper channel, but my trip is becoming more relaxing by the hour and my progress is speeding up.
By early afternoon I reach Wollemi Creek. The creek looks unaffected by any storms and is strongly laced with tannin from decomposing plant matter upstream. I have been to this landmark twice before having entered the Colo River via Wollemi Creek. I’ve stopped at this point on both these previous occasions looked up the Colo River and wondered: What is it like up there? I have waited over eight years for the answer and now my mind is at ease. I turn around and look down river and think of the times I’ve spent in the past venturing down on lilos with friends – good times and bad, and times I’ve felt when I never wanted to leave. I wish my friends could be with me now to share and experience this magnificent place.
The water from Wollemi Creek makes paddling easy and enjoyable for the rest of the day. I take caution paddling through some rapids and at times choose to walk the kayak through instead. Even though my kayak is made for paddling in white-water, I hesitate to take on any risk. Besides, I am too busy taking in the beauty of this place. This section of the gorge is spectacular, with vibrant sandstone cliffs over 250 metres high and falling just short of the river floor, leaving very few places to wander apart from along the river itself. The riverbed is predominately sand with pools forming after rapids where large boulders have backed up the steady flow of the water.
Thunder once again echoes through the gorge on the back of the light rain falling throughout the day. I am left with no choice but to stop and set up camp or run the risk of setting up in the pouring rain. I have dealt with rain on and off for a few days now, and all my belongings have a damp feel to them. All my gear, including my camera equipment, has been damp for days. I am not concerned just yet but I hope for sunny weather in the days ahead. An hour of steady rainfall is enough to allow water to leak through the tarp and drip onto my head, like an irritating form of water torture. The tarp is only a thin nylon fly – the top cover of an A-frame tent. These shelters only work well when they are brand new and set up correctly and mine is old and is set up poorly.
Tonight it’s pasta for dinner and a cup of tea. And for some extra entertainment a trail of large Sugar Ants march across the sand past my bed. Even though Sugar Ants are harmless, I try not to disturb them as I don’t want them crawling over my bedding later and distracting me from my sleep.