Our second day started in the White Mtns but switched to a tour through the
northern part of the Inyo Mtns. Smoke that had plagued us the day prior gave us
some break today, but it always be seen somewhere on the horizon, ready to
spill into the neighborhood with a slight change in the wind. Much of the day
was spent driving the abundance of dirt roads found in both ranges. We had been
on many of these roads on previous visits, as we were collecting a handful of
summits we'd left for another time back then. The longest hike was a mile and
a half to the summit, most less than half a mile. We would finish up an hour
earlier today, giving us time to enjoy a little relaxing sunshine and an extra
beer before the chill set in with the setting sun.
This minor summit lies a few miles east of Westgard Pass, just above SR168 on
the north side. A high-clearance dirt road climbs from the highway up to
NW of the summit in about a mile. The road is narrow with a steep
drop off, enough to make Tom nervous on the passenger side. Once this crux is
managed, the hike to the summit is short but steep, taking about
ten minutes. The sun was just rising over Deep Springs Valley, though
smoke kept the view hazy.
Located a few miles south of SR168 on the west side of the pass, this one is an
easy drive to a saddle on the north side of the summit. Another ten
minute hike gets you to the top.
Also found on the south side of SR168, a few miles northeast of Peak 7,900ft.
It was the longest hike of the day, about 1.5mi each way, though it can be
shortened by a mile if one drives through a narrow section of roadway.
I balked at the rocky part, refusing to drive further even as Tom
insisted it would be no problem. I offered to drive him back to get his jeep if
he wanted to drive it, but we both knew that would take more time than simply
walking it. And so we walked. It was an easy, mile-long downhill gradient
following a drainage until we were half a mile southwest of
our summit. We climbed up along one ridge on the ascent,
using another on the way down for a change of pace. The summit is
wide open and rounded, no trees to block views.
We collected both jeeps and drove back down SR168, then up Waucoba Rd into the
Inyo Mtns where these last three summits are located. We switched over to Tom's
Jeep to reduce the chances of the driver making us walk further than needed.
This worked nicely, though it took its toll on the Jeep. Some of the roads were
more overgrown since we'd last been on them, increasing the pinstriping
opportunities by a large margin. When the Jeep was new, Tom would make me get
out and trim the branches back. Today he just drove through them. Peak 9,220ft
lies about a mile west of Andrews Mtn. A steep, loose, and rocky road leads to
a saddle between the two peaks. We'd already climbed Andrews
five years earlier, but it would be easy enough to combine both from the same
point. It took us less than 15min to climb the 1/3mi distance to
Peak 9,220ft's summit, a rocky outcrop overlooking a large
swath of the Inyos west and north of Waucoba.
Several more miles of rough driving were needed to get within about a mile of
Peak 9,140ft on its east side. There are no obvious turnouts, so we had to
park atop the brush on one side of the road. A pleasant hike, flat at
then climbing the eastern slopes of the peak leads to the summit. There would
be a very nice view of the Sierra escarpment to the west if it weren't for the
smoke today. I walked another 1/5mi to a lower point further west to see if I
could get cell service. I met back up with Tom again as we were both on our
way back to the Jeep.
This last summit is located about two miles east of Peak 9,140ft. A faint Jeep
road runs along the base of the peak on the southwest side with a spur road
climbing partway up the slope to get us within a quarter mile of the summit.
As we were going up, I found several small pieces of obsidian. The
first looked like an uninteresting flake, but the second appeared to be the tip
of an arrow or spear. We both started to pay attention more closely on the way
up and down. And while the summit offered nothing special, I was
excited to find a whole arrowhead on the way back, my first such find,
We spent more than an hour on more driving, attempting to get closer to a last
summit, Peak 8,620ft. We had some trouble finding roads depicted on the topo
map and eventually gave up the effort when we could get no closer than about
2mi from the summit. We drove back out through Harkless Flat, retrieved our
other Jeep and found a campsite not far off Waucoba Rd to spend the night.