Location: Stirling Range National Park
Distance: 3km return
Trail Marker: Occasional markers, easy to follow
Cost: National Park Entry Fees Apply
Toilet Facilities: No
Dog Friendly: No
Date Hiked: 31st May 2020
It was peak hour on the trails for the WA long weekend. Never before have I ever struggled to get a carpark on ANY trail in Western Australia. A positive shift, the result of people being cooped up inside following the Covid-19 pandemic. I say positive because it is fantastic to see the increase in people connecting with the outdoors. There is a negative of that however, and sadly it won't be seen for some time but I do believe it will have an impact on the environment as more and people lacking skill and knowledge hit the trails without any thought about the impact they are having. That's a topic for another day though I feel.
My boys were down from Perth this weekend, and hubby was on his R & R from FIFO work, the first time we had all been together since moving from the city to the country in December 2018. The weather wasn't exactly inviting but we made the most of it by heading out to the Stirling Ranges and challenged ourselves with a few walks. I had yet to complete Mt Hassell which has fewer steps than some of the other peaks so it seemed the likeliest option to do as family with kids who were sceptical when I said it was only 3km and would take us 2-3hrs haha I can't pull the wool over their eyes anymore, they have learnt to ask what the grade and height is too. The trail ascends gently via a series of switchbacks followed by steeper sections of scree. I found it to be quite a mental challenge more than anything especially when you get to what you think is the top but instead find that there is a large flat rock followed by another steep ascent and even then find it was another false one and the actual summit requires some serious rock scrambling.
It was at this point that only myself and youngest adult son Adam continued on. Prior injuries kept the others at bay, and young Sophie was not up for a steep climb. It was peak hour here, and looking back down at the carpark we could see now that cars are spilled out on to Stirling Range Drive with no room left in the carpark. Crazy times to be out on the trail but most people were quite cooperative, especially when it came to needing patience waiting for some to scramble up and down some of the riskier sections. I'm glad it wasn't raining at this particular point because the granite would become quite slippery. We made it to the top with only 2 other people around so had good opportunity to take those typical summit shots, and take in the views of Toolbrunup (albeit covered in in cloud) before heading back down as light rain began. I was showing the kids the ripple marks which could be seen on some of the rocks on Mt Hassell, evidence that the ranges were once covered by a shallow sea. After the sea receded the layers of sediment were transformed into layers of rock by the pressure created by their own weight. Pretty unbelievable especially when some of those rocks were 600m up. All in all a great hike, good to see so much regrowth already after the Dec/Jan fires. Look forward to coming back again in the coming months to check out the wildflowers.