Stirling Range National Park
Directions - One of the easier peaks to access, from Chester Pass Rd find Toolbrunup Rd near the old Moingup Springs Campsite and follow it all the way to the car park at the end. The trail head is on the western side of the car park next to the information board.
The Hike - This is the hike I had been most looking forward to on this trip after reading about it on The Long Way's Better and hearing tales of pre-dawn hikes to the summit from a friend. After taking in both Mount Trio and Mount Hassell the previous day, the legs were feeling great as I woke up to the sunlight pouring into my tent at sunrise. I had spent the night at the wonderfully located Moingup Springs and after a night of being woken by the strong winds stirring the surrounding trees, I was happy to stay in my sleeping bag like a warm toasty burrito. I had set my alarm but this wasn't due for another hour (forgot I wasn't sleeping in a dark room and the sun would wake me) so I laid there enjoying the sounds of the birds before getting on with the day's hiking.
I was saved the hassle of boiling water for my tea by the family I had met the previous night and enjoyed a cuppa in the morning light, along with a banana and an Up&Go (I wasn't too hungry). By the time I had finished breakfast and packed up, the day was heating up (forecast was for 26C) so I made the short drive (you can see Toolbrunup quite well from Moingup Springs) down Toolbrunup Rd to the car park that marks the start of the hike. After a few stops along the road to photograph the looming mountain, I arrived at 8am to perfect conditions and it was already in the lows 20s. There were already a couple of cars there and one I recognised as the same lady who started the Mount Hassell hike at the same time as me so I would eventually see her at some point. I performed my pre-hike routine of filling water bottles, applying sunscreen and packing the necessary cameras/gear. Unlike the two hikes I did the previous day, Toolbrunup starts off in some dense forest and this was very welcome given the expected temperatures. I found plenty of wildflowers in this first stretch as the going was gentle and the forest kept me shaded so took my time taking photos and soaking it all in. The trail follows the course of a small creek and the dips down to the valley can be quite steep in places.
It is nothing like the drop offs you will experience at the summit but it's still a nice scene. The gentle incline doesn't last long and soon enough you come across what makes this hike different from all of the others in the Stirling Range, a scree field. Fortunately you don't have to scale this one but it is a marvel to look at. As many have described, it's like someone has just backed up a dump truck full of rocks and poured it down the side of the mountain. On such a sunny day it was giving off quite a glare but the one advantage was the views looking back towards Moingup Springs. It didn't feel like a lot of climbing but the view suggested otherwise. It also provided a glimpse to the summit, still a long way away and up some bigger scree fields. Traversing the small horizontal section of the first scree field was quickly done with and it was back into the forest for some very steep trail hiking. I was pleasantly surprised to find a few stretches of forest that reminded me of my trip to Ellis Brook Reserve in 2015 with the closed in feeling of the straggly trees so spent a bit of time photographing the area. Not far up the path I encountered the sound of running water so followed it off trail until I discovered the source was the tiny trickle of a creek that runs down the side of Toolbrunup.