Our original plan was to include a walk and climb up Frenchmans Cap from the Irenabyss either as a day walk, or possibly staying overnight at Tahune Hut near the base of the mountain. From there, Kate and Lauren would continue walking out to the highway while the rest of us walked back to the Irenabyss to continue rafting.
It had begun raining during the night and the rain periods continued through the day. Knowing that there are no views to be had from Frenchmans Cap in anything but good weather, we cancelled the walk for the team, leaving Kate and Lauren to walk out to the highway over two days on their own. It was late morning when we farewelled them, so we decided to stick with the plan of not rafting further down the river today and have a rest day and perhaps just paddle up and down the Irenabyss. We also had a paddle to repair and the opportunity to simply enjoy being on the river while we had a good campsite. I was not terribly disappointed about missing out on Frenchmans Cap, having climbed it twice before myself, and not feeling the need to do it a third time, especially in the rain.
During breaks in the rain, I paddled up and down the Irenabyss twice. Once alone, and a second time with Paul. David and Sean had paddled up and down a little earlier. It is a beautiful part of the world, in any weather, and it was very enjoyable.
On a previous visit that involved walking to the Irenabyss and swimming across it, I had concluded that this was one of the most beautiful places on earth. The beauty was enhanced by the mystery of the place, wondering what was upstream beyond those overlapping and overhanging cliffs.
After rafting the sudden spill over the last rapid of Deception Gorge into the quiet waters of this chasm, I had discovered what was “just around the corner”. So the magic and mystery of the Irenabyss was gone. Although it looked the same as it ever did, the entrancing spell of its mystery was broken.
Paul and I had a look around the camp site on the other side of the river where I’d stayed on my previous visit after having swum across the river.
Earlier in the day Sean found an old-style wooden paddle amongst the trees behind our camp site. It was in very good condition, with just a small chip and a small amount of delaminating of the ply on one of the blades. I tried it out and found that I liked it better than our own paddles, being stiffer and thicker in the shaft than our aluminium. However, it was not quite as long as my paddle. Jamie gave it a try and being a similar length to his own aluminium paddle he decided to use the wooden one for the rest of the trip.
Jamie separated his own paddle into its two parts, and there was some discussion as to who should carry this extra spare paddle, or whether it should be left in the camp site where we’d found the wooden paddle. Jamie had already brought a spare paddle of his own (a short kayak paddle), so didn’t want to carry two spares when nobody else was carrying any. Paul volunteered to carry this additional spare for the next day, on the understanding that we would take turns at carrying the spare paddle.