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Australia - 2005-05-01 - 6 - Karijini National Park - Handrail Pool Walk & Hancock Gorge (Page 1)

The handrail pool is one of the most amazing walks I have ever done, & also among the most dangerous. By the end of it I would be wet & out a bunch of money. We started out just behind a group of about 10 people, which was frustrating because Adrian & I had a fairly fast pace that we liked to walk. For these type of walks there are almost always a single track (if that). The walk starts by going pretty much straight downhill, which is not that bad. Then it starts getting tougher, & there is even a point where you have to do down a ladder to keep going. It wasn't until after this ladder that we were able to get by this group. After that we were able to get back to our own pace, but not for that long because the walks difficult would slow us down. At points you are walking along the sides of the cliffs heading toward the bottom. The nice things it that the rocks stick out like steps going down, but it you miss a little the fall would hurt if not break something depending on where you are at. So you slow down a little just to be safe. The first 3 rows of pictures show the walk while going down the gorge before getting to the bottom. The fourth row mainly shows the "path" we took, as you can see it is mainly walking along the gorge wall, going up or down it depending on where your steps are. The second picture of the sixth row is the area where I had to climb down to Adrian, this would be where the reference to the dangerous that I talked about at the beginning came in. It took quite a while to get down this. But at that point it seemed like the tough part of the walk would be over because the water had slowed to a trickle there & you could walk on the side of it as you can see in the next 3 pictures.

The last picture shows the end destination of the walk, the handrail pool. It would also be the final destination for my camera & cell phone. As I started to walk to the left of the picture up around the pool, my right ankle gave out. My right ankle has been sprained at least 10 times playing basketball & can be really weak at times. This was one of those times. I hit a step to go up but instead found my self heading directly into the pool of water. At this point it is important to mention this. For most walks I would only take my camera & a water bottle & maybe a towel. For this walk I decided since it was longer that I would take my small backpack. I didn't really think about the fact that also in there was my cell phone, MP3 player, all extra camera memory cards & other things. Hitting the water my first thought was for all my electronics in my bag. So I tried to hold up my hand & I hoped the water would be deep enough that I would be able to touch with my feet & keep the bag above my head. Of course this spot was deeper than almost the entire rest of the water. Also there was a small waterfall heading into it so it had a distinct down pull. So I went completely under along with my bag & everything in it. I quickly popped back up & tried to hand my bag to Adrian, but doing this caused me to go underwater above my head. When this happened one of the other people there who had been swimming jumped in to help me because I think he thought I might drown. It was nice of him but his jumping in took me & my bag completely underwater another time. After this I surfaced again & was able to hand my bag of to Adrian who was perched above trying to reach down. After that I swam to the other side & got out. In a way I was lucky. I could have fallen from other areas of the walk & I would have probably been hurt in that case. In this case I only had a small cut on my hand (I think from when I was handing the bag up). Either way the first thing we did was take everything out of the bag & try to get it sun because the bag let water in everywhere. The shirts, towel, even my notebook would be ok, but the cell phone was dead. After taking 10811 camera #1 would not be seeing anymore service. I was lucky in another respect though because the memory cards were OK (obviously since I was able to show the picture where it happened). Also my MP3 player, the cheapest piece of electronics was the only thing that pulled through.

We stuck around the pool for quite a while, Adrian even took the treacherous track down the water fall part way & did a dive into the pools below. I chose to stay where we were above by the pool. Although we did make some fun out of that pool because it was so deep. We were able to do dives & jump backwards off into it. The most dangerous part of it was walking out of it because it was really slipper so you had to be careful. Either way it was a beautiful walk, even though it might not have ended the best. I heard later that this walk was shut down because a walker had fallen & been critically injured & of course it is nearly impossible to get help to anyone down there. Not sure it was true but it would not surprise me having walk & fallen here. The good thing was that I was not really hurt, just out some money & electronics. It frustrated me too because there were more places that I wanted to take pictures but would only be buy replacement in Perth at the end of Adrian & I's trip. I did have an underwater camera which I used a few times. Either way after this walk we had seen all of Karjini & decided that we would leave the park to hit the road again. The park is one of the top five in Australia & is a must for anyone who ever goes to Western Australia.

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