Jail Canyon Breakout

Ah, sunset on the desert.

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.

If you plan to get off the beaten track in the Death Valley area, this book is highly recommended!

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.

Route up the fan into Jail Canyon and over to Hall Canyon, recorded by GPS and overlaid by Mike on Google Earth relief. We ended up traveling about 20 miles round trip. The blue line on the crest of the mountains is part of a route from last spring's walk on the Panamint Crest.
The old road out of Jail Canyon gains several thousand feet of elevation in the space of a mile or two. In places the road grade was 25%. This road is now part of Death Valley NP and is maintained only as a foot trail.
Catch-our-breath and snack break, looking west into Panamint Valley, the Argus Range, and the snowy Sierra Nevada far in the distance.

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  –>

Hall Canyon Spring, looking west. We turned around here because a gorge begins below this point, complete with 14 waterfalls (some 100' high), extra-credit thick brush, and private property at the bottom. Going to the bottom of Hall Canyon requires climbing gear as well as getting landowner permission.

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.

On the way out of Jail Canyon we took advantage of shade and cool metal from this historic piece of ... um ...
The final miles back down the fan to The Sprinter ... and a cold one!
Back at the ranch, the chef enjoys a cold beverage while preparing a sumptuous pasta dinner in The Sprinter's five-star kitchen.

2 thoughts on “Jail Canyon Breakout

  1. 70’s in Death Valley, huh. Sounds great for you guys. Cool pictures, as usual, but where did Mike get that super shirt?!?!? It’s soooooooo Mike.

    Love Dad

  2. Hi Dad! Actually, I made that shirt for Mike — the fabric came from his mom, who had bought it when Mike was a kid and the family lived in Micronesia. His parents taught school there for about a year and a half!

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