Inyo & Keynot

31 May 1999 - by Debbie Bulger

If you're looking for an enjoyable climb in the spring, you might try the Inyo Mountains. Keynot and Inyo are the second and third highest peaks in the Inyo Range at 11,101' and 10,975' respectively.

On Memorial Day, Richard and I decided to climb these two DPS peaks which offer spectacular views of the snow-capped Sierra.

If you don't have a 4WD vehicle, you will have to hike an extra two miles round trip.

At the trailhead where we camped the night before the climb, we met DPSer Linda McDermott who was leading a private trip. She suggested we climb Inyo and Keynot on separate days since it considerably shortens the second day and makes for an earlier drive home. Good advice.

Of course, the DPS group was climbing both peaks as a day hike. With lighter packs they could travel faster, but it's a strenuous hike with 6500' of elevation gain and10.5 miles.

A challenge of the trip is the fact that unless there is snow, you must carry all your water. We packed in six liters each the few miles and almost 2000' gain to Bedsprings Camp (no water, actual rusty bed springs.)

We left about 7 a.m., arrived at Bedsprings Camp around noon, set up our camp and left most of our water. (We had heard the DPS group pass our truck at 5 a.m.) Around 2 p.m. we headed for the 10,080' saddle between Inyo and Keynot.

Near the summit of Mt. Inyo there is a natural rock shelter under a huge boulder with some old tools and other artifacts lying about. A bronze plaque on a nearby pine explains that this shelter was used by Marion Howard, the beekeeper of McElvoy Canyon.

I had read about him in the DPS newsletter and was really glad to find the shelter.

The next day's climb of Keynot was really a treat. This peak has one of the finest bristlecone pine forests I have ever seen.

One tree is about 12 feet in diameter. And as we descended the ridge to the saddle, the view of the Sierra across Owens Valley is unparalleled.

For those of you who like fast scree slopes, the descent from Bedsprings into Union Wash is reputed to be one of the fastest around.

The icing on the cake, so to speak, was the profusion of flowers at the trailhead: Palmer's Penstemon, Prickly Poppy (my favorite), Birdcage Evening Primrose (very showy), Golden Princes Plume, Engelmann's Hedgehog, Beavertail cactus, desert aster, and Jimson weed along the road.

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