Mount Inyo, Keynot Peak

17-May-97 (San Diego Chapter)

By: Mark Adrian


Please reference Sage number 239, pages 18-20 for the latest guide. Note that camping is poor at the 2WD trailhead due to the slanting parking area, but a small flat area may be found about 200' down the road, room for maybe three vehicles. Also, we noted the distance along the Dolomite Road is 4.9 miles from its intersection with the Lone Pine Owen Inyo Road and that there are only two tires (atop a three-foot high dirt mound) rather than a "pile" (of tires) marking the turnoff to the spur that heads ENE. Otherwise, the 2WD road is steep as it climbs the alluvial and one of our party drove his 2WD low-slung sports car in without incident.

We departed the 2WD trailhead about 6:40 AM Saturday morning under mostly clear sky. Rather than dropping into Union Wash, we instead opted to climb up the steep and sometimes-loose slopes/ridgeline heading directly east of the 4WD parking spot. Previous climbers felt this was shorter and easier than negotiating the loose cobbles in Union Wash. We climbed these slopes and then connected with the "standard" route at the 8,100 foot contour. From here, good use trail leads you past Bed Springs Camp to the saddle at 10,100 feet, where we arrived about 11:30 and had lunch. The views west to the Eastern Sierra scarp, where, as always. impressive and intriguing It seemed though, from this vantage, the snow level in the Sierra Nevada is below average. Also, to note here, there was no snow along this route to Mt. Inyo and only minor patches near the NE face of Keynot Peak. Leaving the saddle about 12:15, we meandered up the sparsely forested ridgeline north towards Mt. Inyo where we arrived about 1:10. The register there is in good condition. Since several of us had already twice climbed Keynot Peak, we opted to remain on Mt. Inyo while Richard led the remainder of the party south to Keynot Peak. So, Gail, Fred and myself remained on Mt. Inyo for a short while longer admiring the views, especially those of Saline Peak and BM Black Top that a couple of us climbed only weeks before. We also wanted to explore the historical marker that Gail had discovered on the ascent and also mentioned in the latest guide's SIDELINE number 7. Departing Mt. Inyo about 2 PM, we descended about a quarter mile south to search for the relies Gail had told us about. It took us nearly half an hour to re-find this recently-established historical site. The plaque there reads - "This shelter dedicated to the spirit of Marion Howard, beekeeper of McElvoy Canyon 1965 -1980. His Inyo friends & BLM 1995". The site consists of this inscribed bronze plaque (nailed to a tree), an old shovel and axe, some stovepipes stacked wood stumps for burning and a small alcove/cave amongst the rocks with room for three people at the most. The near-exact location (via GPS) is at UTM 11 S 0412250, 4065500. From here, we proceeded south back to the saddle where we took a rest and radioed to Richard who had just arrived on Keynot Peak at 41 safe and sound. Furthermore, Ron Hudson had come up from French Canyon to meet John McCully and Sue Holloway and those three were going to continue south from Keynot peak along the ridge to bivy and then do New York Butte Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, Gail, Fred. John and myself proceeded back down to the top of Inyo's "classic" scree slope descent route. Here, we stopped to wait for Richard and the group to meet up with us since Richard had radioed at 5 that they were on their way. He also mentioned Keynot's register is in good condition This scree slope must be the fastest descent route on any of the three lists Since I had done this route twice before, I had some recollection of the best scree ribbons to use. I noted my altimeter at 8,100' and about eighteen minutes later I was at 6.500' or about 100'/minute descent. Note that this descent route nearly-parallels the aforementioned ascent route and holds true to the guide's assessment of "lightening fast". At the bottom of the scree slope. there was a small but scenic waterfall flowing into Union Wash This was the first time I'd ever see this flowing. So, several of us sampled the liquid and found it cold and pure From here. the party regrouped at the Wilderness Boundary sign in "desk" at the end of the 4WD approach road. Then. it was 0.7 miles back to the 2WD trailhead and our trucks where we arrived about 7:30. To add a final bit of excitement to the day, Richard and I came upon a four foot snake slithering across the 4WD road. Since were not herpetologists, we could only conclude it wasn't a rattler and was a cream-green color with some black diamond-shaped ornamental patches streaked across its length This was a fun day and about thirteen hours of hiking with great folks in some beautiful desert mountains. At 8 PM we radioed to Ron Hudson to hear that they had stopped not far from Goat Springs to camp/bivy for the evening Meanwhile. the rest of us were enjoying chips and adult beverages as the wind picked up and gusted most of the evening. We spent the night at the trailhead, driving back to San Diego on Sunday. Thanks to Richard and Gail for a great lead and well-organized trip Participants included myself, Fred Bright, John Knell, and those who continued on to Keynot peak Sue Holloway, Virginia Calimlin. Jerry Higgins (who I believe ''emblemed'' on Inyo), and John McCully.

Traveling notes:
Since I215 is now complete North of Temecula. I've found this route not only shorter than 115 but also to be quicker It took about 50 minutes to do this stretch and reconnect with I15. Staying on I15 is longer. Either route is subject to traffic stalls and it's been my experience that on busy weekends there's usually a big backup on I15 where I15 and I215 meet near Devore. So, it seems smarter to use I215 in general. The drive from San Diego to Lone Pine nominally takes about five hours.

We found a great Mexican restaurant in Inyokern across the street from Two Sisters. I didn't think to get the name. but it's on the western end of town. Fast, good and reasonably priced, give it a try. And, for those beef eaters, the Cocky Bull near Adelanto has gone out of business. At four corners (aka Kramer's Junction), there is a new (3 month old) ARCO AM-PM about 0.25 miles east of the hwy 395/58 intersection on hwy 58s south side. Unleaded was $1.33 on 5/18/97.

On the drive up Friday, we had the unique experience of seeing a B2 Stealth Bomber performing around the 4 corners area. We stopped to watch. When this "machine" turned just the right way, we could barely see it. I guess for $1.000,000,000 that's the least you should expect.

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