Our third day in the Inyo Mtns found us north of the main Death Valley Rd,
plying the jeep trails that wind their way in no particular hurry throughout
these hills. Like the previous day, the hikes were generally short, but the
collective elevation gain made for a pretty full day.
This first summit had the most prominence of the day with 800ft. It was the
same peak I had tried to talk Tom and Karl into two days earlier at the end of
the day. Taking no chances, I scheduled this as the first visit of the day,
easy to do when you're the driver. We parked at a turn in the road about a mile
NNE of the summit. Our route went up gradually at first, going over a low,
intermediate ridge before dropping to a dry meadow. Once across
the meadow the route resumes climbing and grows steeper. The slopes are
populated with junipers and pinyon pines though not enough to be of any real
hindrance. We reached the summit in 40mins' time. We found a modest
cairn but no register, so left one of our own before returning
via nearly the same route.
Our second peak was a mile and a half northwest of the first, across the upper
reaches of Deadman Canyon. We drove within 3/4mi of the summit before getting
stopped by a barrier closing the road to vehicles. Tom pointed out we
could have driven around it as others had done, but besides not being a very
nice thing to do, it would have got us only a few hundred yards closer before
the road ended anyway. We went up the vague NE Ridge to reach
the top in less than 30min, finding views partially blocked by trees,
but otherwise much like the first summit which we could now see in profile
across Deadman Canyon.
Peak 8,180ft #1
This was a very short but steep hike that took about 25min roundtrip,
starting from a large meadow area on the northeast side of
the small hill. Karl elected to skip it
since it had less than 300ft of prominence and he wanted to pace himself with
a knee that didn't take too kindly to the steeper slopes.
Peak 8,180ft #2/Peak 8,140ft
These two peaks are found at the head of Crooked Road Canyon, less than half a
mile apart. We drove a spur road to a point about 2/3mi
east of the summits, hiking them in concert from there. After
descending a gentle drainage to the base of the peaks, we went up the
northern one first, Peak 8,180ft. We found an open, rounded summit with
views to the Sierra Crest and south to our second peak, the
slightly lower Peak 8,140ft. We went off the south side of the first summit to
the drainage between the two (Crooked Creek Canyon), then climbed the
NE Ridge of the second one to a rockier summit with similar
views. We spent about an hour and a half on the roundtrip effort.
Peak 8,740ft #1/Peak 8,740ft #2
Two miles further north are found this pair of unnamed summits with similar
elevations. We were able to drive right to the saddle between them,
the southern one first, then the northern one, all in about an hour's time.
It was 2p by the time we reached the starting point for this summit, a
little more than a mile from the previous one. There was a game guzzler
at the end of the road where we started, repurposing old microwave antennae to
catch rainwaterand then piped to a storage tank to be doled out to thirsty
critters. A hike of little over half a mile through juniper and pinyon forest
up the west slopes with some talus sections got us to the top in less
than half an hour. While we were wandering around the large summit looking for
the highpoint, Karl commented that the pinyons were loaded with tasty nuts, now
seasonally ripened. We took to collecting these from the cones
in the trees, then peeling off the shells to get to the good stuff
inside. They were indeed quite delicious, the only downside - and it was a big
was the non-trivial amount of sap that invariably gets on your hands in the
process. I might have spent an hour collecting nuts otherwise. We figured the
indians probably had a way to avoid this, perhaps by putting blankets on the
ground and knocking on the pine cones with a stick to shake the nuts loose. I
had hoped we might find an old register from Barbara and Gordon's visit in 1976,
but alas there was none to be found. We left one of our own, adding the
names of the few folks we knew from LoJ to have visited the summit before us.
Undoubtedly there were others, but they'll have to come back up to add their
Our last summit of the day was another mile further east of the last, at the
end of the road that had us about as far into this part of the range as it was
possible to drive. The hike was very short, only about a quarter mile each way,
with a nice view
looking north across Deep Springs Valley to the White Mtns.
It would be 5p and several beers by the time we'd made the long drive back out
to the pavement and to our campsite off Death Valley Rd. The jeep had collected
a few pounds of dust,
but otherwise seemed no worse for the wear. Time for a
shower, dinner and campfire...