Sunday, August 28, 2016

Donkey Mountain (North-East Maze), Gardens of Stone NP, led by Geoff Fox


2016 August: Donkey Mountain (North-East Maze), Gardens of Stone National Park, NSW, Australia
                      Led by Geoff Fox

Prolog

Most seasoned Sydney/Blue Mountains bushwalkers have been up at Donkey Mountain a few times already. And Geoff Fox, the king of Donkey Mountain, has been up here more than 50 times!!!

But I'm catching up ... this is my 3rd time.

The previous climbs were private trips. This time, Geoff Fox is leading. He takes us to places that by ourselves, like in my 2nd trip, either we wouldn't know how to get to, or we wouldn't know what places are interesting ... places like:
- Bermuda Triangle ... It took Geoff a few years to figure out how to reach it.  So what hope is there for a mortal soul like me to find my way there !
- Kents Crevasse ... In the 2nd trip, I reached its entrance.  But I didn't venture in ... didn't know there were goodies inside!
 
By the way, photos and trip reports of my previous climbs to Donkey Mountain are in my blog:
- 1st trip, 7 months ago in 2016-01, to west side of Donkey Mountain:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/01/donkey-mountain-west-side-gardens-of.html

- 2nd trip, 5 months ago in 2016-03, to same area as this trip:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html


Donkey Mountain

If you want to climb a mountain, and spend the rest of the time in a fairyland for big kids, hopping between pagodas, sometimes over deep fissures; or walking through canyons; or just sitting around and marvel at the view of the valleys below, then there is no other mountain than Donkey Mountain.

From the map, it looks as if one can traverse the top of the mountain in no time, as the distance is only about 1 km.  But that 1 km is pack full of intricate topography ... pagodas, canyons, fissures, narrow passages, caves, chambers, ..., that you really need to spend a few days to fully explore the place, and appreciate the wonders of Donkey Mountain. 


Our group

10 of us:
- Geoff Fox, leader
- AOB
- BB
- BL
- JD
- JP
- RS
- SZ
- YL
- and me


Maps

- 1:100,000 scaled 8931 Wallerawang

- 1:25,000 scaled 8931-4S Ben Bullen

- Plus Geoff Fox's sketch maps on Donkey Mountain. You can find them in:
•  North-East Maze: http://photobucket.com/gallery/user/foxes9/media/bWVkaWFJZDo1MTA4MzIxMw==/?ref=1
•  Middle section: http://photobucket.com/gallery/user/foxes9/media/bWVkaWFJZDo0ODg3MzgwNQ==/?ref=1

In the following trip report, "sketch map" refers to the North-East Maze sketch map ... unless specified otherwise.


Below is the relevant part of the 1:25,000 scaled map. (To enlarge the map, click on it.)


GPS tracklog file & Route

The GPX tracklog file of our walk can be downloaded from:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B877-h5SCJaSbzc4aFdrZU5BVTQ/view?usp=sharing

Here is our tracklog, red colour, clockwise circuit, superimposed on the 1:25,000 map.
Starting point of the walk is from a small carpark by the side of Wolgan Road.


Satellite view of our clockwise circuit: (Click on the image to enlarge it.)


A summary of our route is:
1.  Start at carpark by the side of Wolgan Road
2.  Entrance to Kents Crevasse
3.  Pagoda lookout after getting through Kents Crevasse
4.  Mossy Rocks
5.  Little Slot
6.  Eagle Nest
7.  Landslide Slot
8.  Green Room
9.  Green Room Portal
10. Enter Jenny Craig from its east side, exit from west side
11. Bermuda Triangle (Afterwards, retrace steps back to west side of Jenny Craig.)
12. High Cave
13. Grand Hall (by entering from slot at its east side)
14. Overlook Donkey Canyon
15. Wolgan Window
16. Secret Canyon
17. Eastern View
18. A lookout (photos #76, #77)
19. Another lookout (photos #79, #80)
20. At carpark

The above numbers correspond to the numbers in the satellite view below:


Timeline & Distance

09:20   0.0 km  Start at a small carpark by the side of Wolgan Road
10:34   1.5 km  At start of Kents Crevasse - leave backpacks here
10:41   1.6 km  At top of pagoda after getting through Kents Crevasse

Take Photos

10:44   1.6 km  Turn around
10:53   1.7 km  Back at start of Kents Crevasse to pick up our backpacks
11:00   1.8 km  At Mossy Rocks
11:01   1.8 km  Start to enter Little Slot
11:07   1.9 km  Exit Little Slot
11:08   1.9 km  Stop because RS forgot his backpack

Morning Tea and wait for RS to retrieve his backpack

11:21   1.9 km  Resume walking
11:24   1.9 km  Leave backpacks near Eagle Rock area to climb up Eagle Nest
11:31   2.0 km  At Eagle Nest, a lookout on top of a pagoda

Take photos

11:33   2.0 km  Leave Eagle Nest
11:37   2.1 km  Back at where we left our backpacks at 11:24
11:38   2.1 km  Climb down Landslide Slot near Eagle Rock area
11:48   2.2 km  Drop backpack. (We'll be back here for lunch.)
11:50   2.2 km  Start to enter Green Room via a narrow slot
11:51   2.2 km  At Green Room

Explore inside the Green Room

11:56   2.3 km  Leave Green Room via a narrow slot under Tchaikovsky Ledge
11:59   2.4 km  Out of the above slot and at Green Room Portal
12:05   2.5 km  Enter Jenny Craig from its east side
12:10   2.5 km  Exit Jenny Craig at its west side
12:14   2.6 km  Back at where we left out backpacks at 11:48
                         Leave backpacks where they are; go on to climb Bermuda Triangle
12:46   2.8 km  At Bermuda Triangle

Take photos

12:52   2.8 km  Leave Bermuda Triangle
13:30   3.0 km  Back at where we left out backpacks at 11:48

Lunch.  Next 2 hours of tracklog belongs to BB because my GPS is not turned on.

13:46   3.1 km  Resume walking
13:54   3.3 km  At Grand Hall by entering from slot at its east side

Geoff replaces log book

14:02   3.4 km  Leave Grand Hall via slot at its south-western corner
14:13   3.5 km  Overlook Donkey Canyon
14:29   3.9 km  Drop backpacks
14:40   4.1 km  Start of Secret Canyon
14:45   4.3 km  At end of Secret Canyon (Warning: distance not accurate - poor satellite reception)
14:48   4.5 km  Start to climb up - aim for Eastern View (Warning: distance not accurate)
14:56   4.6 km  At Eastern View

Take photos

14:59   4.6 km  Leave Eastern View
15:18   4.9 km  Back at where we left out backpacks at 14:29
15:29   5.1 km  My GPS is now turn on, so back to using my tracklog
15:38   5.4 km  At a lookout

Take photos

15:40   5.4 km  Leave lookout
15:43   5.4 km  At top of a pagoda

Take photos

15:46   5.4 km  Leave pagoda
15:55   5.6 km  Wait for Geoff to catch up with us

15:59   5.6 km  Start to descend down Donkey Mountain towards carpark
16:44   6.6 km  End at carpark

==============================================

Total:  7 hrs 24 mins  at leisurely pace
           6.6 km  Distance is from Google Earth
           ?.? km  Distance is from Garmin GPS ... (My GPS was off for 2 hrs after lunch.)


Pictures - Near the carpark

1)  Stile from Wolgan Road into Donkey Mountain National Park ... this is where we park our cars.
- Left to right: SZ, AOB, JD


2)  Not far into the national park from the carpark ~~~
Donkey Mountain is in front. There is no prominent peak in this mountain. Instead, there is a maze of pagoda-like rock formations and narrow passages at the top.
- Left to right: BL, Geoff Fox


Climb Donkey Mountain

3)  At the slope of Donkey Mountain, first of the mannny mannny interesting climbs ~~~
The 3 photos below are of the same area, Geoff Fox is leading; followed by BL, AOB, RS, SZ.



4)  At the top of the rock of the previous pic and looking down ~~~
In the 2 photos below, AOB is leading; followed by RS, SZ; then me; then JD, YL, JP, BB.
All 10 of us are accounted for in this and the previous 3 pics.
(Photographs courtesy of Geoff Fox)


5)  We've arrived at Donkey Mountain.
- Left pic:
     • Red arrow points to an unnamed hill just west of Donkey Mountain.
     • The 2 guys at the bottom of the pic, from left to right: JP, BB
- Right pic: Left to right: AOB, BB, JP, JD


Kents Crevasse

6)  The hole in the middle of the pic is the entrance to Kents Crevasse.
The story goes that years ago, Geoff Fox and Kent were exploring around here and came upon this hole. It is like a chimney inside. Kent volunteered to go in and climbed up to the top. He came back down and reported that nothing particular interesting up there !!!
Anyway, Geoff named this passage "Kents Crevasse". Below are a set of photos and you can judge for yourself whether it is worthwhile to climb up.
5 months ago, in my 2016-03 trip, we came to this hole but we didn't go in. Well, we didn't know what was inside.

The 2016-03 trip is in this link:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html
Photo #31 is a photograph of this same hole.


7)  Entering Kents Crevasse ~~~
Geoff Fox is leading, followed by SZ, then AOB, BL, YL.  I am at the rear in the lower right photo (photograph courtesy of BB).


8)  It is a vertical hole inside Kents Crevasse, like a chimney.
- Upper left pic: BL leading, followed by YL, RS
- Upper right pic: BB leading, followed by JD, JP
- Lower pic, left to right: YL, BL, SZ, AOB's foot (photograph courtesy of RS).


9)  Straight after getting out of the chimney is this near vertical rock face to climb up (the yellow arrow). Fortunately there is a dead tree trunk to assist us.


Lookout at top of Kents Crevasse

10)  Then it is going towards a nearby lookout. (Photographs courtesy of BB & Geoff Fox).
In the 3rd pic below, I am on top of the lookout.  It is definitely worthwhile to climb up here.


11)  View from the lookout ~~~
Well, Kent reckoned there is nothing much to see once you climb up Kents Crevasse ... you can be the judge  :-)
- Upper pic, towards west-south-west:
     • The cliffs to the left of the left-most red arrow is part of Donkey Mountain.
     • Left red arrow: Mt Wolgan
     • Middle arrow: Unnamed hill west of Donkey Mountain
     • Right arrow: Cape Horn
     • Small red circle: Carpark by the side of Wogan Road ... where our cars are parked.
     • Open light green area: Wolgan Valley
- Lower pic: From west to north ... continuation to the right of the upper pic
The story goes that the unnamed hill is actually Mt Wolgan. However, the cartographer placed the label "Mt Wolgan" wrongly at the west end of Donkey Mountain, hence the hill is now unnamed ... haha !

By the way, I have been to Cape Horn, 2 months ago in 2016-06, from the south. Photos and trip report are in my blog:
      http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/cape-horn-lawler-point-lawler-caves.html
And will be there again 3 months later in 2016-11, from the west. Photos and trip report are in my blog:
      http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/11/cape-horn-lawler-point-wolgan-state.html


12)  Near the lookout ~~~
- Upper pic:
     • BB is at rear. In front of him is Geoff Fox. In front of him are JP, RS.
     • On the far side, AOB's raised arm is pointing at a fissure, the bottom of which is Grand Hall, see photos #55 to #58.
- Lower pic: This is the fissure pointed to by AOB in the upper pic.  The bottom of it is Grand Hall.


On Freeway

"Freeway" is labelled in Geoff Fox's sketch map as the route between Kents Crevasse and this interesting rock formation.

13)  Most probably Geoff Fox has given a name to this rock, but it is not labelled in his sketch map. I wonder whether this rock is climbable ... if not to the top, then to that interesting gap near the top ???
More photos of the scenery along the "Freeway" are in my 2016-03 trip ... see photos #28 to #32 of this link:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html


Mossy Rocks

14)  Next, we pass by this rock in an area labelled in Geoff Fox's sketch map as "Mossy Rocks"


Little Canyon

15)  After Mossy Rocks, we come to Little Canyon. It is in Geoff Fox's sketch map.
- Left pic: At the entrance of Little Canyon. Geoff Fox is leading, followed by AOB, then BL, SZ.
- Right pic: Inside Little Canyon. SZ is leading, followed by YL and JP.


To Eagle Nest

After we are out of Little Canyon, RS discovers he is missing his backpack ... he absentmindedly left it at the entrance to Kents Crevasse ... haha !

While he went to retrieve his backpack, the rest of us have a rest ... well, it is morning tea time.

16)  After morning tea, we leave our backpacks behind and climb up this narrow fissure between the rocks to Eagle Nest.
- Left pic: AOB is leading, followed by SZ and BL.
- Right pic: I've climbed to the top of the rock and looking down at JP climbing up.


17)  At the top of the rock we have our first glimpse of Bermuda Triangle, the triangle at the middle of these two pics. We'll be going there later on.


At Eagle Nest

18)  This is it ... Eagle Nest, a mass of pagodas
- Upper pic: JD is leading, followed by SZ, then Geoff Fox, BL, YL.


Return from Eagle Nest

We return to retrieve our backpacks.

19)  This is the same fissure as in photo #16. It is also where we left our backpack. 


Landslide Slot near Eagle Rock area

20)  Our next destination is Green Room.  First, climb down Landslide Slot which is labelled in Geoff Fox's sketch map (photograph courtesy of RS) ~~~
- Upper pic: Geoff Fox is watching SZ and JP (orange backpack) going down.
- Lower pics: I have climbed down and now watching BB (far back), JD, YL, RS (lower left pic only) inching their way down. Eagle Rock is the interesting rock that looks like a open mouth of an eagle.


On the way to Green Room

21)  On the way to Green Room ~~~
- Geoff Fox leading, followed by BL
- This area (see also photo #30) is near the western entrance of a very narrow slot called Jenny Craig ... we'll enter Jenny Craig from its eastern entrance, and exit near here, the western entrance.
The above scene is also recorded in the lower pic of photo #10 in this link:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html
which was my 2016-03 trip to Donkey Mountain.


Green Room

In the above mentioned 2016-03 trip, I have been to Green Room too, as well as the next 2 destinations Green Room Portal and Jenny Craig. Green Room pictures are in photos in #12 to #16 in the above link.

22)  Left pic: Entry into Green Room is through this narrow slot.
Right pic: I am inside Green Room now and looking back at the narrow slot.
     • JD is out of the slot. Inside the slot is JP; and behind him is RS.


23)  Inside Green Room ~~~
- Left pic: I am near the entrance and looking into Green Room.
     • There is a large chockstone, in the red circle.
     • SZ is walking toward JD.
- Right pic: BL is looking at a vine which goes all the way to the top. I'm curious ... Has anyone actually climbed up to the top this way?

Next, we explore the Green Room as far as where the chockstone is. I'm now wondering whether it is possible to keep going and climb out of the Green Room that way?


24)  Left pic: I am under the chockstone of the previous pic and looking back at where we came from.
     • Red oval: The vine in the previous pic.
     • Yellow arrow: This is where we'll soon leave Green Room for Green Room Portal.
     • We came into the Green Room from left of the yellow arrow.
Right pic: A narrow connecting slot into Green Room Portal ... the yellow arrow in the left pic is pointing at this slot.


Green Room Portal

Next, we go to Green Room Portal via a connecting slot.

Photographs of Green Room Portal are also in my 2016-03 trip ... photos #17 to #21 in:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html

25)  Connecting slot (more like a tunnel) between Green Room and Green Room Portal ~~~
- Left pic: Near the entrance, me ... photograph courtesy of RS
- Middle pics: Also near the entrance, JD
- Right pic: Near the exit and looking back at JD


26)  Upper pics: About to enter Green Room Portal
Lower pic: At Green Room Portal, looking back at the connecting slot into Green Room
     • Left to right: BB, RS, JD


Jenny Craig

When you are in Donkey Mountain, you just have to experience a most memorable narrow slot named by Geoff Fox in his sketch map as Jenny Craig !  :-)

From end to end, its length is about 75 meters.

The slot is called Jenny Craig because if you haven't been through a Jenny Craig program, you won't be able to pass through it  :-)   ... see photo #29.

(Jenny Craig is a weight loss, weight management and nutrition company founded in 1983 by Jenny Craig and her husband, Sidney Craig. The program was started in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and began operations in the United States in 1985. Today, the company is headquartered in Carlsbad, California, USA.)

Photographs of the Jenny Craig slot are also in my 2016-03 trip ... photos #6 to #9 in:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html

27)  So, from Green Room Portal, we come to here, eastern entrance of Jenny Craig
- YL on the left; BL on the right


28)  Inside Jenny Craig ~~~
- Left pic: Shortly after entering the lot, there is a rock to climb over.
     • AOB has climbed up the rock. SZ is behind her.
- Right pic: I have climbed up the rock of the left pic, and looking back at the entrance.
     • RS is climbing up. JP is behind him, followed by BB.


29)  Inside Jenny Craig ~~~
- Upper left pic: The first half of the slot is slightly wider. BL is in front of me.
- Upper right pic: The 2nd half is so narrow, you need to walk side ways like a crab.
- Lower left pic: Me ... walking side ways (photograph courtesy of Geoff Fox)
- Lower right pic: The exit ... Geoff Fox is waiting outside.


30)  I'm out of Jenny Craig. This is its western entrance.
- Left pic: Geoff Fox didn't go inside Jenny Craig as he has been through it many times in the past. He is waiting outside taking pictures of JP coming out. Behind JP is JD. BB is further back.
- Right pic, left to right: JP, RS, BL


To Bermuda Triangle

Bermuda Triangle is on top of the cliff above Jenny Craig. So it is very close by. We had our first glimpse of it in photo #17. However, to get there is not straight forward. It took Geoff Fox a few years to figure out how to reach it. He is going to take us there now.

31)  First, climb up here ... both pic are of the same spot.
- Left pic, left to right: BL, AOB, Geoff Fox
- Right pic, left to right: SZ, RS, YL, JP


32)  The next climb is here. This one is a bit scary ... the moss makes the rock face slippery. One slip and you'll be a looong way down !
- Upper left pic: JD climbing up. (Photograph courtesy of RS)
- Lower left pic: JD uses his rope to help RS.


33)  The climb here is more difficult.
- Upper pic: JD (already climbed up) and AOB are agile enough to climb up without any assistance.
- Lower pics: JP (left), SZ (right) and the rest of us need the assistance of a rope kindly set up by JD. (Photograph courtesy of Geoff Fox)


34)  Immediately after the climb (previous pics) is this minor vertical rock cliff.  This one is much easier as there are plenty of hand and foot holds as illustrated by RS.


Once we've climb over the rock cliff of the previous pic, we are at the top.

35)  Nice sculptures of pagoda-like rock formations


36)  In the 3 photos below we are going to where SZ is sitting ... in the red circle.
- The red arrow points to Bermuda Triangle.
- RS is the guy in front of me.


37)  YL (left), BL (right) and I taking a look at the deep fissure between the rocks ... this fissure is to the left of the previous pic.


38)  Finally we reach where SZ has been sitting and waiting for us.  She is still sitting there.


39)  Fantastic view from the top of the above rock ~~~
- Upper pic: Towards north ... we'll be going there next, to Bermuda Triangle, the small grey triangle pointed to by the red arrow.
- Lower pic: Towards east ... Wolgan River flows along the green valley across the centre of the pic.
     • The bunch of buildings below and between the two red arrows is Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Resort.
     • 2 red arrows: Left is a lookout. Right is Nobles Canyon. I went to both places 11 months ago in 2015-09. Photos and trip report are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/deception-nobles-canyon-wollemi-np-nsw.html


40)  Photograph courtesy of Geoff Fox ~~~
We now head for Bermuda Triangle, the red arrow.
- First, go to where BB is.
- Cross the gap.
- Traverse a bit across the rock face then up !!! ... see photo #41.


41)  Photograph courtesy of BB ~~~
Climbing up the cliff ... the 3rd photo below shows best the vertical climb we have to do ... it is fun, but definitely not for the faint hearted.
    • Geoff Fox is leading;
    • followed by AOB;
    • then YL, RS, SZ;
    • BL is at rear.


42)  I have crossed the gap of the previous pic and looking back: (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
- Red arrow: The rock SZ was sitting on in photos #36 and #38
- Red oval at lower left: The gap where BL was in the previous pic
- Red oval in the middle: The rock sculptures in photo #35
- JD in the red circle has yet to make the journey across.



43)  Next, we are going to cross this fissure. Geoff Fox calls it is Julie Craig, a side branch within Jenny Craig.
- Left pic: AOB goes down to investigate. She couldn't go very far and will climb back up soon.
- Right pic: JP (and I too) watching her going down
In this trip, while inside Jenny Craig, I didn't take a photograph of Julie Craig at the ground level. You can find a photo of it in photo #7 of my 2016-03 trip:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html


44)  On the other side of the Julie Craig fissure ~~~
- Left to right: Geoff Fox, RS and BB are watching AOB going down the fissure.
- JD is standing behind BB.
- Further back, the sharp triangle is Bermuda Triangle, our destination.


45)  After crossing Julie Craig, there is still a bit more climbing to do before we can reach Bermuda Triangle, the red arrow. But it is not too far to go now.  (Click on the image to enlarge it.)


Bermuda Triangle

Finally, we are at Bermuda Triangle, highest point at the top of the rocks around this area. The route to here was complicated ... well, it took Geoff Fox a few years to discover it. Without him leading, it'll be very difficult for a mortal soul to find his way to here.

46)  Geoff Fox and the Bermuda Triangle


47)  Fantastic scene from Bermuda Triangle ~~~
This 180 degree view is towards east. Worth all the effort to climb up here.
(The view is similar to the lower pic of photo #39.)
- 3 people from left to right: YL, SZ, BL
- Wolgan River flows along the green valley across the centre of the pic.
- The bunch of buildings below and between the two red arrows is Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Resort.
- 2 red arrows: Left is a lookout. Right is Nobles Canyon. I went to both places 11 months ago in 2015-09. Photos and trip report are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/deception-nobles-canyon-wollemi-np-nsw.html


Climb down Bermuda Triangle

48)  Retracing what we did in photo #41.
SZ is leading, followed by YL, then JP, RS, me, BB
(Photograph courtesy of Geoff Fox)


49)  At where the previous pic was taken ~~~
You wouldn't want to slip when you are in the previous pic ... it is a looong way down.


50)  Left pic: RS retracing what we did in photo #34 ... Note the rope tied to the tree trunk.
Right pic: RS retracing what we did in photo #33 ... he is using the same rope as the one in the left pic.


Lunch

51)  Back to where we left our backpacks, and have well deserved lunch ~~~
- Left to right: JP, YL, BB, RS, AOB, Geoff Fox, JP


To High Cave

After lunch, Geoff Fox leads us to Grand Hall via High Cave.

52)  On our way to High Cave ~~~
This pic is the same as photo #23 in my 2016-03 trip:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html
- Left pic: Geoff Fox leading us down a passage.
- Right pic: Closer to the end of the same passage as the left pic ... Geoff Fox is leading, followed by JP, then BL/SZ and YL.


High Cave

It is a cave labelled in Goeff Fox's sketch map as High Cave.

(In my 2016-03 trip, I went via the nearby Low Cave to Grand Hall.)

53)  At High Cave ~~~
- Upper left pic: Entrance to High Cave ... BL is leading, followed by JP, then SZ.
- Upper right pic: Looking back at the entrance ... AOB
- Lower right pic: SZ exiting out of High Cave
- Lower left pic: AOB at where we emerged out of the cave


To Grand Hall

54)  There is long narrow slot leading to Grand Hall.
- Upper left: SZ is directly in front.
- Upper right: BB
- Lower left: BB
- Lower right: BL is in front of BB.
I also walked to Grand Hall along the above narrow slot in my 2016-03 trip. See photo #33 in
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html


Grand Hall

(There are more pictures of Grand Hall in photos #34 to #37 in my 2016-03 trip.)

55)  Left pic: Just about to enter Grand Hall.  BL is directly in front; in front of him is RS; then Geoff Fox & YL.
- Right pic: I am inside Grand Hall, looking back at the slot where we came from.


56)  Grand Hall ... a wonderful spacious cavern with a level floor lightly covered with fallen leaves.
Here, I am near the entrance and looking into the hall.
As you can see from this and the next few photos, it is a beautiful chamber.
- At the back wall, from left to right: AOB, BL
- Walking towards them: JP
- Behind JP, from left to right: RS, SZ, YL


57)  I've joined the guys at the back wall and looking back at Grand Hall. To my right is our next exit slot (red oval).
- On the left side : BB and Geoff Fox
- On the right side: BL is directly in front.


58)  Still at the back wall, looking back at Grand Hall ~~~
- Upper pic:
     • Left to right: BB, JD, Geoff Fox
     • You can see a narrow vertical gap in the middle of the pic with a tree in front ... that is the narrow slot (photo #55) from which we entered into Grand Hall.
- Lower pic: There is a log book in a plastic box in a recess in the wall.  Geoff Fox has logged our entry and is about to put the box back into the recess.


Leave Grand Hall

59)  We now leave Grand Hall.
- Left pic: This is the narrow slot in the red oval on the right side of photo #57.
- Right pic: Immediately after emerging out of the slot
( See also photo #38 of my 2016-03 trip to Donkey Mountain:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html .)


To Wolgan Window

60)  On our way to Wolgan Window ~~~
Both pics below are of the same passage.


61)  Passing by and looking down at Donkey Canyon ~~~
Donkey Canyon is a very nice place. In this trip, we didn't go inside it. I walked through it in 2016-03, see photos #42, #43 and #44 in:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html
In particular this pic is taken at the same spot as the right most pic of photo #44 in the above link.


62)  We are in the north branch on the western side of Donkey Canyon ... in the sketch map at the top left hand corner, we are walking from right to left (westward) in the passage represented by the 3 red dots.
- Left pic, right red dot in the sketch map: JP is entering the north branch. This pic is the same as the right pic of photo #69 in my 2016-03 trip to Donkey Mountain ... see this link:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html
- Upper right pic, middle red dot: Inside the passage ... JP is directly in front. In front of him is SZ, then BL and JD. This pic is the same as photo #45 of the above link.
- Lower right pic, left red dot: JP on left and RS on right exiting out of the north branch. This one is the same as photo #46 of the above link.


Wolgan Window


After we exit out of the north branch (previous pic), we are then in Titanic Canyon. What we want to do now is to go south a bit, then south-west to Secret Canyon. But first, we make a detour to Wolgan Window.

Wolgan Window (labelled as such in Geoff Fox's sketch map) is at the end of a narrow slot which has a good view to a conical-shaped hill west of Donkey Mountain.

The story goes that the hill is actually Mt Wolgan. However, the cartographer placed the label "Mt Molgan" wrongly at the west end of Donkey Mountain, hence the hill is now unnamed ... haha !

63)  We are inside the Wolgan Window slot.  These pics are the same as photo #47 in my 2016-03 trip to Donkey Mountain ... see this link:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html
- Left pic: Towards the end of the slot.  RS is directly in front, then BL and JD.
- Middle pic: View from the end of the slot, towards the unnamed hill ... This is as far as we can go in the slot.
- Right pic: Backtracking out of the slot ... JP is directly in front. In front of him is AOB.


To Secret Canyon

After Wolgan Windrow, we head towards Secret Canyon.

64)  (The left pic is also identical to the middle pic of photo #69 in my 2016-03 trip to Donkey Mountain ... see this link:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/donkey-mountain-north-east-maze-gardens.html.)
- Left pic: We pass the mouth of south branch on the western side of Donkey Canyon. In the sketch map at the bottom of the pic, I'm at upper red dot looking towards north-east. The end of this passage is photo #62. In this trip we do not enter this passage. Instead we keep going south ... to the right pic.
- Right pic: At the lower red dot in the sketch map, looking towards south-west. AOB is in front of me. In front of her is YL and BL.


65)  Passing by some interesting rock formations
(Photograph courtesy of BB)


66)  Traverse across this steep slope.
- Upper pic: JP is directly in front. Further away is AOB.
- Lower pic: Geoff Fox (Photograph courtesy of BB)


67)  Just before we enter Secret Canyon, we have a nice view of Donkey Mountain's highest peak, the vertical rock column in the centre of the photo. Unfortunately it is not climbable without climbing gears.


Secret Canyon

68)  This is it, Secret Canyon, a long narrow slot ~~~
- Upper left pic: JD at the start of the slot
- Upper right: JD
- Lower left: JD
- Lower right: This is the end of the slot after which it is a steep drop. AOB made a half-hearted attempt to go down.  But she didn't go far. In the pic, SZ has turned around and is now heading back.


To Eastern View, a lookout above Secret Canyon

69)  Near where we entered Secret Canyon, we climb up this slot ... heading for a lookout labelled as Eastern View in Geoff Fox's "Middle Section of Donkey Mountain" sketch map
- Left pic: Looking up from the bottom of the slot (photograph courtesy of BB)
     • Top to bottom: BL, me, Geoff Fox, YL, RS, AOB
- Right pic: Looking down from the top of a dead tree trunk (photograph courtesy of Geoff Fox)
     • Top to bottom: RS, AOB, JD, BB


70)  Both of the 2 pics below are taken from the top of the slot, looking down ~~~
- Left pic, Top to bottom: YL, Geoff Fox, RS, BB
- Right pic:
     • Interesting cliff face
     • BB is at the bottom.


Eastern View

71)  At Eastern View, a lookout marked on Geoff Fox's "Middle Section Donkey Mountain" sketch map
- Upper pic: Geoff Fox is directly in front. SZ is sitting on top of the lookout.
- Lower pic: Geoff Fox is directly in front. In front of him is YL. SZ is sitting and enjoying the view.


72)  Typical fantastic view from Donkey Mountain, this time from Eastern View lookout ~~~
- Upper pic: This panorama is towards south-east at Wollemi National Park, similar to the right half of photo #47.
     • Wolgan River flows along the open green valley across the centre of the pic.
     • The bunch of buildings below the left red arrows is Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Resort.
     • Blue arrow: Carne Creek flows in the valley there.
     • 2 red arrow: Left is a lookout. Right is Nobles Canyon. I went to both places 11 months ago in 2015-09. Photos and trip report are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/deception-nobles-canyon-wollemi-np-nsw.html
- Lower pic: (Continuation to the right of the upper pic) Towards south at Gardens of Stone National Park


73)  Continuation to the right of the previous pic ~~~
The red arrow points to the highest peak in Donkey Mountain. Unfortunately it is not climbable without climbing gears.


74)  Still at Eastern View ~~~
RS is posing on a natural rock chair  :-)   (Photograph courtesy of Geoff Fox)


To western end of Donkey Mountain

75)  This is the end of our Donkey Mountain exploration. Instead of retracing our steps, we walk towards the west end of the mountain and will climb down from there.
- Upper pic, left to right: SZ, AOB, BL
- Middle pic, left to right: Geoff Fox, BL, AOB, SZ, JP
- Lower pic: BL (Geoff Fox labelled the passage around here as Snow Chute in his "Middle Section Donkey Mountain" sketch map.)


76)  We come to a lookout with a 180-degree panoramic view.


77)  View from the above lookout ... it is similar to photo #11.
- Small red dot: Carpark by the side of Wogan Road ... where our cars are parked.
- The 3 red arrows point to, from left to right:
     • Mt Wolgan
     • Unnamed hill west of Donkey Mountain
     • Cape Horn
(Click on the image to enlarge it.)
By the way, I have been to Cape Horn twice:
- 2 months ago in 2016-06, from the south ... photos and trip report are in my blog:
      http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/cape-horn-lawler-point-lawler-caves.html
- 3 months later in 2016-11, from the west ... photos and trip report are in my blog:
      http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/11/cape-horn-lawler-point-wolgan-state.html


78)  We keep going towards the west end of Donkey Mountain.


79)  At another lookout ... this one is even better ... with a 270-degree panoramic view ... see photo #80.
- Upper pic: Interesting gap
- Lower pic: BB is taking photos. In the middle is RS. YL is directly in front.


80)  From the lookout is another fantastic view ~~~
- Upper pic: This panorama is toward south-east and is similar to photo #72.
     • Wolgan River flows along the open green valley across the centre of the pic.
     • Red arrow: Nobles Canyon
     • Blue arrow: Carne Creek flows in the valley there.
     • Left side of Carne Creek is Wollemi National Park.
     • Right side of Carne Creek is Gardens of Stone National Park.
- Lower pic: Towards south-west and west (Continuation to the right of the upper pic) ~~~
     • Left red arrow: Unnamed hill west of Donkey Mountain
     • Right red arrow: Cape Horn
     • Left red oval: Western end of Donkey Mountain
     • Right red oval: Mt Wolgan
- Continuation to the right of the lower pic is photo #77 and won't be repeated here.


Climb down Donkey Mountain

81)  Climbing down Donkey Mountain
- Left pic, left to right: JP, JD, AOB, YL, RS
- Right pic: YL inching down gingerly on her bum


82)  Passing this big gum tree which engulfed an old fence ~~~
- Left Pic: JP
- Right pic: Fencing wires protruding from inside the red circles


Post Script

Donkey Mountain deserves several more visits. One day, I would like to come up here again and explore more.

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