Grapevine Peak Summit Under Full Moon

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Death Valley Dazed
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Grapevine Peak Summit Under Full Moon

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:16 am

Late afternoon start with summiting under full moon, slept on top of Grapevine Peak returning via Moonlight Canyon next morning - September 2017

There is a weather station atop Grapevine held down by cables which have become very loose over the years. They flop around in the wind.

I slept a few hours on top under the full moon with amazing night time 360 panoramas of the valley below. Not being skilled in night time photography I do not actually have any images of the summit but I did register on the log.

About 4 a.m. I descended via the huge scree field on the south-east slop expecting to hit Moonlight Canyon and then head upstream to the Phinney-Moonlight saddle where I started. Big mistake, as I miscalculated what drainage I was following.

Disoriented at what I thought was the intersection with Moonlight Canyon and not recognizing the ridgelines I circled back, up and around becoming even more disoriented in the steep canyon in the dark as the moon set behind the ridges.

So I dozed a bit until first light which revealed a ridgeline unlike that of Moonlight Canyon. So I trudged up the ravine ending at the south-westerly face of Grapevine Peak just below the summit where I finally obtained my bearings realizing i had missed Moonlight Canyon by two main drainages. Oops!

Rather than scaling Grapevine's angle of repose scree field I circled around maintaining elevation to the north and eventually recaptured my original route to the summit. With great relief and oriented I headed back down, but...

Tired and thirsty, thinking I could short-cut a route back, I scooted down another drainage trying to maintain what I surmised would be equal elevation with the Phinney-Moonlight saddle. Wrong again, ending up way down into Moonlight Canyon well below where the old mining road ends. Trudging up to capture the old mining road as it dipped into the streambed, I finally stumbled onto that road and hiked back on it to the saddle where fortunately those campers had extra water to spare.

I certainly could have made it the other mile downhill to my truck but that was as close to the thirstiest ever that I recall. LOL

The hike out to Grapevine along the ridgeline from the saddle is delightful. Rocks mixed with pines and the views are just to die for. I highly recommend this moderately difficult jaunt, but don't try any dumbass detours like I did.

FYI - I drove out via Rhyolite's westbound dirt road and took Brier Canyon cutoff by mistake so backtracked over to Phinney Canyon where I parked below the very technical 4WD portion and hiked about a mile to the saddle.

I returned directly down and east 20 miles all the way to Highway 95 which I had never driven before. It's very flat, straight and smooth. When I return to the area in the future, I will probably drive this way because it is smoother even though a bit longer on mileage.

https://youtu.be/dgug1EdSrM4
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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:15 pm

What sort of vehicle were you driving? I've never gone in to Phinney from Rhyolite, always straight in from 95. It's a good road but makes for a long drive in and turns the peaks in that area into tough day hikes. Sleeping on top in moonlight, not bad. Bad disorientation, could have had a rough ending, glad you got out OK.

Do you hike with a GPS?

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Death Valley Dazed
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Phinney Canyon access

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:09 am

MojaveGeek wrote:Do you hike with a GPS?
Never have used GPS and have no real plans to. I like to go minimalist so far on my treks around the park. While being so disoriented for the first time ever in my life, it was not like feeling lost. I knew generally where I was and that I could always just ascend to get centered again. I just didn't want to expend all of the extra energy and time it was going to take. LOL.

The Dodge Ram four-wheel drive pickup served well except for not wanting to bang it up on that last section of Phinney Canyon Road below the saddle where there exists quite the big boulder roller. The campers I discovered at the summit who had the naughty campfire going made it up there in their pickup truck. Someday, I hope to reach that saddle via Moonlight Canyon, thanks to Steve Hall's trip report. Wahguyhe Peak is on my bucket list now too.

I've been to Phinney twice now, both times entering from Rhyolite which is a fun drive with great scenes of the Grapevines as the approach is somewhat parallel to the ridgeline. And you don't have to open or close any gates.
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