Last weekend Mike and I decided there was enough time to sneak away for a weekend somewhere not too far from Reno, to get a change of scenery and maybe even a chance to hang out in shorts in the warmth of a low-elevation desert evening, watching the sun set, the bats come out, and the stars appear.
A quick check of temperatures in the vicinity of Furnace Creek—mid 70s!—made up our minds, and off we went to Panamint Valley, the lesser known cousin of Death Valley, which lies just next door to the east.
With endless canyons and ridges to explore and always-limited time for said exploring, we were fortunate to have along this invaluable guide given to us by a good friend: Michel Digonnet’s Hiking Western Death Valley National Park is the resource to have.
In this book he notes an old mining trail that cruises the western Panamints from Jail Canyon south to Hall Canyon, contouring rocky creosote bush-covered ridges below the lofty 11,000′ summit of Telescope Peak, highest point in both Death Valley National Park and in the Mojave Desert itself. We planned to check it out.
Here is where the trail drops steeply into Hall Canyon. The crest of the Panamints is at at the head of the canyon, still several miles away.
Mike, for scale –>
We found a spring and some shade in Hall Canyon, making it a perfect spot for snacks, soaking feet, and checking wardrobes.
Taking it easy on the long downhill on the way back. Here, Mike is close to the last switchbacks that would drop us back into Jail, with a stark background of constant erosion and rockfall.