Arbonne Independent Consultant..loving the outdoor life!
Published August 25th 2013
Get high and wild in the Blue Mountains
Soldier on. That's the mental and physical attitude when me and my friends availed the Empress Canyon package from High and Wild in Katoomba. I came across this form of adventure from a travel show and got all tempted to try out an entirely different form of adrenaline rush.
Upon arriving at their office, preparation for canyoning was the first order of business. We were asked to tried on a wet suit apt for our body size, and given a dry bag to put in our change of clothes. All personal items were not allowed to be carried, instead, they provided a secured locker for safe keeping.
We then departed their office and went to a location for our safety briefing. Our guides showed us the basics of abseiling by doing a demonstration - from using the harness and adjusting the safety helmet, appropriate body posture when positioning yourself prior to the jump, and how to recover your balance in case you lost it. They made it looked so easy and we couldn't wait to get started on our 5 metre practice jump.
Honestly, fear started to set in upon standing on the edge. But just hearing the cheers and encouraging words from each individual, even at snail's pace, I was getting a hang of it and my self-confidence was rising.
It was exhilarating when I set foot on the ground - a boisterous cry inside of you yearning for more. And then we did. We went up again for another jump. And this time, we got better and far more optimistic.
We've set off to our first real abseil - a 10 metre cliff. One of our guides, Evan, pictured to us the orientation of this cliff, just to be aware on what to expect. He gave us more instructions, but the best thing he said to us was to enjoy the moment and the scenery.
more instructions from Evan before the 10 metre abseil
All went well on our first jump and everyone was in high spirits. Then 2 more jumps to wrap up our abseiling experience - 20 and 30 metres, which we all made it through unscathed. We couldn't believe that we made it. Everyone's excitement and enthusiasm were soaring into the roof.
All famished after our explosive morning, we were all provided with a power lunch to replenish our energy - yummy sandwiches including vegetarian options, fruits, cheeses, drinks, and these were all included as part of the package. After an hour of much needed break, we were on our way to our next big thing - canyoning.
With our heavy backpacks, we started our walk and reached a part of the canyon to put on our wet suit. If you're doing this, make sure you have your swimming attire on already, and a good pair of anti-slip swim shoes.
Our first jump was into a rock pool and we had to do it facing backwards. It was more nerve-wrecking for the fact I've never done it before and I couldn't see where I was plunging into. After seeing everyone did it, I finally took the courage and eventually jumped into the cold water.
We waded through several creeks that involved more jumping and swimming, on which our favourite was on the waterslides. Even with our wetsuit on, we still felt the chill but feeling fantastic.
The absolute climax of the day was the 30 metre abseil down Empress Falls. Just hearing the sound of the big surge of water, we knew how powerful the flow can be to knock us off on a wrong footing. There were 2 groups doing the jump that time, so it was quite jittery waiting on the line for your turn - the longer I waited, the nervier I felt. Came my turn and both legs were a bit wobbly. But with a strong determination, I brushed aside the fear and focused on getting my position right, all set for the last jump. Within minutes, it was all done and dusted. To fulfil one of the items in our bucket list – we're on cloud nine.
Facing the unknown is one of life's challenges. It's tough and scary, but with great friends alongside in your journey makes it all worthwhile. This adventure really has strengthened our camaraderie and I couldn't ask for better people on yet another roller-coaster ride.