Mount Inyo, Keynot Peak


By: Karen Leonard


20 people signed up for this strenuous backback, some saying that an emblem peak had not been led for some time. But 6 cancelled in the last few days, so 14 people met at 7 am at the Lone Pine Station for the drive to the trailhead. We parked in the 2WD place and set off for the foot of the ridge and began ascending it just after 8 am. Several people on the trip were new or' fairly new to the DPS, and one hiker turned back almost immediately, an old injury reactivated. Another signed out at about 7600'. Then Ken Diehl developed severe leg cramps at about 7900' and was last seen by those moving toward the 9200' saddle seated on the ground alone. Delores Holladay, who had returned to talk to him, was seen heading back up to her pack. Meanwhile, back at the Bedsprings Camp, time passed and all other participants arrived, welcomed not only by an extra gallon of water but a half-filled bottle of Jim Beam. Ray Wolfe, for whom Inyo would be his DPS Emblem peak, put some champagne into the lingering snow bank to cool for the next day. Ken's pal Duke Blakesley confidently predicted that Ken's cramps would require him to return to the car (and his beer); Duke even had himself photographed alone before the impressive array of stuff he had lugged up there. The leader went back down the trail and found that Delores, deciding the section needed a new rumor, had helped Ken with the cramps and succeeded in cajoling him on. Cheers greeted their eventual arrival (especially from Duke because Ken had been carrying most of their tent). A fine campfire burned until almost 9 pm as tales of travel and adventure were exchanged and plans were made for the next day (clouds loomed). Some people needed Keynot, a few wanted only Inyo, and most wanted both peaks. Fortunately we had four suitably rated leaders (Gary Guenther and Judy Ware were on the trip), so in case of threatening weather in the morning we could mount two expeditions, one to each peak, and pack out.

But in the morning the weather was good, and we started hiking at 6:15. Four signed out to do only Inyo (Holladay and Fred Bright had done both peaks before, Blakesley and Diehl wanted Inyo), and Leonard, Guenther, Ware, Wolfe, Bill Stevens, Evan Samuels, Alice Rushdy, and Randy Ragland set out to do Keynot first and then Inyo. Keynot went beautifully--there was some snow to plow through on the east side of the final ridges, but it was not too deep, and we crossed to the west just at the right place to find the ducked trail around south and up to the summit (reached at 8:50). Alice had brought colored Easter eggs and shared them on the summit! The two groups passed each other just north of the saddle above the Bedsprings Camp and Delores shouted that her group would pack out separately. Gary took over the lead to Inyo toward the top of the ridge; the advance group reached it just before noon. A pleasant lunch on Inyo and the eight of us headed back to camp, packed up and left at 2:30, sharing champagne toasts to Ray but donating one of the (two!) bottles carried up to future campers. That unbelievably fast scree slope down was a new experience for most, fun! Randy, who had outslid all of us down, had volunteered to go ahead and bring his 4WD vehicle up that road to pick up packs for the final bit and was allowed to do so. We were all back at the cars by 5 pm, where Fred and Delores awaited us. It was a terrific group of hikers and a great trip. Thanks especially to Delores, who had the peaks twice but whose recent knee operation welcomed testing," for her marvelous company and help. I have the sunglasses found at the trailhead after most people left.....

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