Like all the greatest ideas, this one arrived over a cold beer.
The weather, which had thankfully been much better than the forecast of showers, was still holding out, so after a range of other topics it naturally swung around to the idea of nude canyoning (or nude canyoneering for our American friends).
Todd had planned an early morning run through of Empress Canyon before our trip, but fears of being late for our meet up meant he’d only done the upper section of canyon.
Combining the two thoughts there was an obvious solution: a nude trip through the impressive lower section of Empress.
With a smirk on his face Saul said he needed to be off, so it was left to the remaining four of us to hop in the cars and race down to the Conservation Hut.
We grabbed our gear, walked down the track and just past the junction we found a good spot to nude up. In no time the clothes were gone, the abseiling gear was on, our clothing was stashed in the bush and we’d set off.
Doing the busiest Blue Mountains canyon nude in daylight was probably asking for trouble, so we decided the two multi-lingual members of the group would respond in german if we ran into anyone else, hoping people would simply smile and think we were some crazy european tourists.
We got to the start of the canyon section, pausing to check the log book to see if anyone else was in there. Normally I refuse to sign these things, but we figured we should leave an entry with a simple one-word warning.
Despite the fact that it had been a cold day and I’d been fairly chilly in Fortress, the water didn’t seem that bad. There were plenty of swims, slides, small jumps, scrambles and wades, but we were moving well and feeling great.
We did quickly discover that some of the usual bum sliding and chimneying techniques required some modification if you didn’t want to catch or graze certain sensitive parts, but it certainly didn’t take away from the pleasure of the experience.
Down near the abseil there were some impressive water jumps into a small but deep pool. I managed to capture one shot before my camera suddenly freaked out, displaying nothing but a purple screen. I decided water may have gotten in, so turned it off. Unfortunately that meant no photos of the best part!
We rigged up the abseil, choosing the anchor that takes you directly down the flow of the spectacular waterfall. Standing around at this point was the first time we had felt cold, so I was happy to go down first.
The lower you got, the more the pounding water felt like needles as the droplets struck my exposed skin. Even the abseiling technique had to change a little, as I didn’t want the rope rubbing across my hip like it usually would. Near the end I had to pause in the cold water to clear a small tangle.
The next person down managed a couple face-plants after slipping forward on the slimy rock, but was still all smiles at the end.
We were just talking about the beautiful abseiling technique of the third member of the group when he slipped near the bottom. He’d reduced the friction ready for a big leap into the pool, but now didn’t have enough to get back to his feet. He slid the last few metres, grazing his back and getting a rope burn on his right arm.
The final abseiler made it down incident free, although his more traditional technique left a few interesting red marks across his right hip.
With the ropes pulled down we stripped off our harnesses and helmets and walked — completely naked — back up the track.
We were a teeny bit disappointed when we got back to our clothes without seeing a soul. In fact, it was just a few minutes after we got dressed again and started up the track that we ran into a very conservative looking young couple. What we would have given to see their faces!
Once at the cars it was back to The Alex for a couple more beers and a nice dinner, all while sitting by the fireplace on comfy arm chairs.
While one of us had to head home for dinner, the remaining three of us decided to pause at my place for a spa and a bottle of wine before making the final trip home.
It was a most civilised end to a very enjoyable day. I’m a total convert to the nude canyoning cause. Keep an eye out for the next trip (whether to join it or simply avoid the area on the day) because I’m definitely planning to do it again!