Patrick and started planning this walk way back in May with the main issue as usual finding a weekend to suit everyone. So, when I caught a Manflu the previous weekend, dashing my plans for some dry canyoning in Newnes, I was determined not to have a second weekend ruined, so Manflu or no Manflu, I was going!
All of us except for Patrick's Nephews left Sydney just before 5pm so we managed to arrive at the Capertee Pub in time for a Hearty Feast of Lamb Shanks and Beer! My throat was hopelessy sore from my Manflu, so I was fearing for the worst the next morning, especially given the forecast of daytime temps of single digits and nighttime temps of negative digits.
Day 1: Baal Bone Gap - Baal Bone Point - Pantoney's Crown (8km)
It would seem seem that the previous night's imbibing session had a miraculous remedial effect on my throat so I was Hot to Trot!
We left the Pub at around 9am and decided to try a reportedly easy 2WD road to Baal Bone Gap which started near the Mine. Well, don't bother - it's pretty much a private road through a famer's property. So after a bit of pfaffing around with car shuffles we finally arrived at Ball Bone Gap. Don't believe the Road Sign that states "4WD recommended", unless you have a rattler from the late 80s you NEED a 4WD. We set off from Baal Bone Gap for Baal Bone Point at 10:10 and soon arrived at the Boot.
The walking along the cliffline is stunning but rather slow due to the many photo opportunities and untracked nature of the walk. Mind you there is now a faint track starting to form in places. Looking back at the cliffline behind the 3 Brothers you can just see the stunning Pagoda and Canyon features. Ahhh well, what can you do? Looks like another trip is needed for further exploration.
There are a heap of great lookouts, but unfortunately the light was crap, so it was rather hard to get any good shots of Pantoney's Crown.
Having said that, this shot, spotted by Ian's Eagle Eye is Gold!
After a good 2 and half hours walk and 45 minute lunch in a small cave, we finally arrive at Baal Bone Point at around 1:25pm
The descent down Baal Bone Point is not too difficult, but you do need a handline. Luckily for us, someone had prepared the descent for us, so we didn't need to break out the handline but it was still rather time consuming as it took 30 mins or so to lower all the packs and complete the descent. It should be noted that there is a very exposed and potentially dangerous traverse to get to the descent - so take care!
After about an hour's walk we arrived at the base of Pantoney's Crown and then promptly walked past the ascent route! Half an hour later after reaching a deadend we turn around and find the Cairn and the obvious route up the Crown.
The exposed scramble up the ascent route requires a bit of pack hauling, so it's slow going.
Midway up the ascent there is a fabulous halfway ledge with a massive drop below.
Looking up the final scramble and pack hauling operations.
Finally, we arrive at the top of the Crown at 4:30pm.
The scramble up the Crown was however without mishap, as the last pack was hauled and I was preparing to scramble up to set up a handline for the rest of party a rock the size of a Grapefruit dislodged and glanced off my cheek - luckily it missed my Melon, for which I am extremely Grapefull - or something like that. So, word of warning, keep out of the firing line and maintain a good distance between party members on the ascent/descent.
What a fantastic place to watch the sunset.
And the rock formations!
One of the challenges of this walk is the distinct lack of water, which means carrying at least 3 litres and avoiding meals requiring water to cook with such as rice or pasta. So, Toasties it was. And, well, a bit of port as well.
Day2: Pantoney's Crown - Crown Creek - Baal Bone Gap (12km)
We woke at 6:30am the next morning to view the Sunrise and as a bonus we had Moonset at the same time. By chance not only was it a full moon, but a Super Moon as well! A super moon is when the Moon's orbit is closest to Earth resulting in a much brighter Moon than normal. Unfortunately the cloud cover the night before meant we couldn't see it.
Here the Sun hits Baal Bone Point. By this stage my fingers were frozen - I'm pretty sure they didn't feel this cold even on my last X-C Ski Trip. The forecast of temperatures for the night before of zero degs must've right - with the wind blowing at 30km/h the resultant wind chill factor made it feel like -5.
Thankfully a nice fire and sheltered campsite meant we didn't notice the cold too much. Of course our fluffy jackets filled with Duck and Goose feathers helped a bit.
Here we are at the Trig Point on Pantoney's. Apparently somewhere between the campsite and the Trig Point is a water source which we didn't bother looking for. Click on the Panorama for a 360 interactive view.
A rare photo of Yours Truly!
There's a couple of descent points on the Northern End of Pantoney's Crown - we chose the less exposed Troglodyte variation. Here Gabrielle does her best Troglodyte impersonation.
After that, it's, ahem, all downhill.
Navigation at the base of Pantoney's is a little tricky in terms of getting onto and following the correct ridge but otherwise, you could pretty much head directly East and eventually hit the road. We decided to follow a ridge that ended at the junction of Crown Creek and Blue Rock Creek as I was keen to visit Blue Rocks and the caves. Alas, the drop-off down the ridge at this point appeared to be mega-steep so we decided to head down the southern ridge instead. This at least gives me a second reason to do another walk here.
Finally at 4:00pm we're back at Baal Bone Gap and Greg's finger is now nicely bandaged up after he tripped and grabbed a branch on the way down the scree slope from Pantoneys. Greg of course shrugged it off as minor scratch but 5 stitches later....