Our last of four days in the Inyos was designed to be a shorter one, allowing
Karl and Tom to get home at a reasonable hour. Most of it was spent in the
lower northwest part of the range where the temperatures are too high for the
junipers and pinyons, leaving the hillsides drier and browner. After Karl left,
Tom and I drove up SR168 for a pair of easy summits on the northernmost edge
of the range.
Peak 7,740ft/Peak 7,900ft
With 800ft of prominence, Peak 7,900ft was the primary objective this morning.
A steep and somewhat rough 4WD road goes over the saddle between these two
peaks, more easily reached from the south at Harkless Flat than from the north.
The north side of the saddle goes down quite steeply, more so than I was
comfortable driving. As I've confessed to Tom, my cajones are not on par with
my vehicles capabilities - probably a good thing for the jeep. From the saddle,
we first visited Peak 7,740ft, then returned to the saddle and
hiked up to Peak 7,900ft. Both are easy class 1-2 walks
along ridges that offer scenic views on both sides. I left
a register at the higher summit while capturing my companions once again
racing to see who could log the summit on the
peakbagger app. Though I've seen it dozens of times now, I still find it pretty
amusing to watch. About an hour and twenty minutes for both peaks.
We returned to Harkless Flat and drove west to collect a peak we'd neglected
four years ago when we climbed nearby Harkless Peak. At the time, I was chasing
down peaks in Zdon's Desert Summits, but now I was getting less
choosey. At the western end of Harkless Flat I nearly got the jeep stuck on
a road crossing a dry lakebed with deep, soft dirt that ground the vehicle to a
dead stop. Luckily, reverse pulled us out of it and there was a bypass whose
purpose we only then discovered. We drove around to the southwest side of the
summit where the spur road we followed ended, having to hike up the
last bit of road to a saddle, then steep cross-country up a short, loose slope
on the west side. A large, squat dead tree is embedded in
the summit rocks and makes for a picturesque scene and
open views. It took less than 15min to reach the summit.
This lower summit is found about 2.5mi northwest of Harkless Flat. We returned
to the paved Death Valley Rd and then took a rough spur road up a side canyon
and then across the south side of the peak to reach
the road's highpoint on the west shoulder. We took about 20min for
the easy hike on the gentle ridgeline to reach the top. It was
after 11a by the time we returned and Karl decided
he'd hit the road to head back to Santa Cruz. Tom and I soldiered on for the
last two summits.
Peak Tollhouse BM/Peak 8,100ft
We drove both jeeps down to SR168 and then up towards Westgard Pass. Tollhouse
BM rises on the south side of the highway, high above where the road constricts
to one lane to pass through the narrowest section of the canyon. Just beyond
this is a rough spur road that climbs to the saddle between these two peaks.
Having done all the wheeling so far this trip, I let Tom use his jeep to drive
us up this one. The road was in decent shape (for a jeep, anyways),
the hikes to each summit taking less than 15min each. We failed to find
the benchmark at Tollhouse BM, nor did we find a register as I half-expected. We
left one of our own here, seeing that it has more than 800ft of
prominence. The second summit was much flatter and the highpoint less
obvious. Both made for steep climbs from the saddle, but fairly short and all
After returning to the highway, Tom and I parted ways. I had originally planned
to spend another day or two outside before heading home, but as I was driving
back down SR168 I slowly changed my mind and ended up driving home the same
afternoon. Maybe a little homesick and missing my wife?