Start - Mount Lindesay Rd off Scotsdale Rd
Length - 10km (Return)
Grade - Orange
Terrain - Single Track, Granite Slab
Vertical Climb - 430m
Time - 2-4 hours
Signed - Yes
Date Hiked - 26th December 2016
Best Time - All Year Round
With the afternoon spent with the family doing some smaller walks close to Walpole, I had my sights set on Mount Lindesay before the predicted bad weather for the week set in.
Having been on my "to-hike" list ever since Don and Alissa from The Long Way's Better posted about it, I decided that it was close enough to Walpole that I could sneak off one afternoon and do it. The timing to get out there and up to the summit while there was still enough light for photos was a bit sketchy but I said goodbye to the family at Circular Pool and headed out on South West Highway towards Denmark.The drive out to Denmark is a fantastic journey through towering Karri forests, open farmland and through sleepy little hamlets. You could easily spend a few days stopping off at every attraction/business and one day I will base myself down here for a week and do just that.
For now though I was rushing to Mount Lindesay as the light was fading fast and I wanted to make the summit by sunset, where I was hoping to get some great shots of the sun peaking through the fast arriving storm clouds. The road that takes you from Denmark to Mount Lindesay is Scotsdale Rd and access is via Horsley Rd, just before the bridge over the Denmark River. At the roundabout take Scotsdale Rd and from there it is well signed all the way to the car park. The roads eventually turn into single track gravel paths and with the sun finally making an appearance, I had a feeling this would be a special hike. After about 30km of driving from Denmark arrived in the empty car park and with the light levels already below what was ideal, I laced up my boots and headed out onto the trail.
The information structure not far down the path belies the relative obscurity of this trail. The DPaW website doesn't contain much information about the hike and there are only a handful of photos on the TrailsWA website. The information board is well laid out and tells you all about the precocious position that this area is in with regards to keeping the habitat safe for the unique flora and fauna that lives here. With not much time to hike the 5km to the summit I made my way down into the little valley that holds the first picturesque spot on the hike, the Denmark River.
Although it was late December, there was still ample water in the river and despite the low light levels in the valley, I was able to take a few nice photos. I would have like more time to explore the area but the summit was calling and I headed off to the climb out of the valley. The trail includes a few sets of stairs and looks to be well prepared for the heavy rain that can fall during the winter as it consistently has points where water would be diverted off the trail so it doesn't erode away.
The information board just after the river stated that the next 2.5kms is flat terrain taking you through the Jarrah forest so with that in mind I put the hammer down and upped the pace. What I didn't expect in this section was to deal with so many spiders that had setup camp over the trail. The first encounter was quite a shock and I managed to stop myself before copping a face full of angry spider. From then on I was a little cautious and had my eyes scanning across the trail for more surprises.
I wasn't missing much as the Jarrah forest, while always a nice place to be, was getting quite dark and the photos were becoming very much same-same. A smattering of late season wildflowers made me stop a couple of times but all in all I think I made pretty good time when I finally reached the open granite slopes (far removed from my recent experiences deliberately taking my time on hikes). Popping out of the Jarrah forest, I emerged into the light and began the final section to the summit. With malee scrub and heathland for company now the views would only get better as you hike up the south side of the peak, providing amazing vistas of the Southern Ocean and along the coast.
The trail on this section is well marked with a combination of metal triangles and more modern yellow & white plastic bollards bolted to the granite. Zigzagging up the granite and into the scrub made for a fun hike and I was enjoying the relative ease at which the trail was ascending. With an eye to the west, I watched the setting sun and hoped that the dim orange hue in the distance would come alive as the sun reached the horizon. As I was checking out the sun and taking plenty of photos, a chattering of black cockatoos (had to Google that one) flew overhead and gave their familiar screech. With the Jarrah forest and cockatoos, I could have been back home in the Darling Range.
The gentle granite slopes soon ended and you pop out of a section of scrub and stare up at a steep section of granite marked with the plastic bollards. I had no option but to continue my frantic pace up the trail and it would go a long way to burning off what was a very sumptuous Christmas Day feast. With it being summer I didn't expect the mosses and plants to be that green on these exposed slopes but the effect the warmer weather has had on them was amazing. It was an almost alien landscape with plenty of orange grass and lichen just surviving up here like it has for millions of years. It was also here that I spotted a silver marker that was well out of place. A familiar Bibbulmun Track wagyl looked very lost given the track is located about 30-40km to the south. Perhaps they had spares lying around when they marked this trail.
Everything I had read about the summit had it pegged at around 400m ASL (My GPS clocked it at 454m) but every time I got a clear look at where the summit might be, another taller section appeared out of nowhere. Finally though I reached a point where I could clearly see the summit clearly and marched on to get a good spot to watch the storm roll in. The clouds to the south were not looking any friendlier and I had all but given up hope for a spectacular sunset. There was still an orange glow in the west but far too much grey for a miraculous turnaround with the weather. Instead I had a bit of fun exploring the relatively flat summit and the various granite outcrops that connect up the overgrown paths.
Given I was probably going to finish the hike in the dark and the drive back would be even darker, I decided to stay up here and watch the storm clouds develop. That was a good decision as the mainly light grey clouds started to turn a darker colour and some amazing patterns developed. As I sat on one of the boulders providing some amazing views, the scent of rain filled the air and then I felt the first few drops hit me. I searched my bag and realised I hadn't packed my rain jacket but thankfully had left my pack cover in there so quickly stashed everything away and sealed up my bag.
The sky was angry that night my friends as I descended down the mountain, staring deep into the raging winds and soaking up the wrath of a summer storm rolling in off the Southern Ocean. Climbing up the granite slopes earlier I had thought to myself how slippery it must be when wet and I was about to find out. Luckily there was more wind than rain and there was plenty of grip as I tumbled down the granite. With fading light and a desire to get back to the car before the heavens opened up I turned the Jarrah forest into a trail run and was soon back at the car with just enough light to find my keys and change out of my hiking gear for the drive home.
Final Thoughts - I wish I had more time to do this hike but this was the allotted time I gave myself on this trip so had to make do. Being summer, everything was a little dry so I can imagine that in spring this would be quite a nice hike if you had a few hours to spare.
It baffles me that this trail isn't well advertised and doesn't seem like it is a regularly visited spot. The views back to the coast and over the ocean are spectacular, the length is perfect for a hiker looking for something a bit longer and the climb while not too challenging, has its moments. I only hope this is to protect the area from dieback as it is habitat to some rare flora and fauna only found in this area.
While the epic sunset I had hoped for didn't eventuate, watching a storm roll in off the Southern Ocean was a nice consolidation prize for a tough little hike.
This trail left its mark on me in more ways than one after I hit a kangaroo as I was driving back down Mt Lindesay Rd. It was a glancing blow at fairly low speed and I thought I heard something move off into the bush when I stopped and got out. My car now has another superficial wound and I hope the kangaroo shook it off and survived.
Get out there and experience it!
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