Deadman's Canyon HikeI began my summer hiking schedule with Hayford Peak. On Thursday 6/29/2006 I drove over 700 miles from my home in Medford, Oregon to the Hayford Peak trailhead. This is a long drive that took me through Susanville, Reno, and Tonopah before getting to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. The trailhead is 22 miles from Hwy 95 on relatively good gravel roads. They are somewhat bumpy so I couldn’t go very fast. It took almost an hour to reach the trailhead after leaving Hwy 95.
The trailhead was surprisingly easy to find because the roads were marked well. At the trailhead I got to watch a late afternoon thunderstorm attack Deadman’s Canyon. I car camped at the trailhead and listened to the rain an thunder as I went to sleep.
The morning dawned with a clear sky and looked to be a beautiful day for a hike. The trail heading into Deadman’s Canyon is wide and easy to follow. The trail is a little sandy in spots, but it is generally easy walking. The trail stayed right in the bottom of the canyon and headed back into the mountains. About 4 miles from the trailhead there was smoke from a lightning caused fire on the south ridge of the canyon wall.
About the same time I saw the smoke, two hikers came down the trail from the cabin. They had stayed the night in the cabin and they said they would report the fire at the Corn Creek Field Station. It didn’t look too threatening, so I continued along the trail.
Soon I reached the small cabin at the head of the cabin. I could see that this was a good place to camp if I had brought my camping stuff with me. I was dayhiking, so I just took a break and enjoyed the shade.
From here I couldn’t determine the best way to head to Hayford. I decided to climb the little ridge just behind the cabin and follow it northerly. This was a good decision. After climbing through some brush and gaining a few hundred feet in elevation, I came upon a “climbers trail”. This trail is generally right on top of the ridge and after a while I noticed that there were even some rock cairns and some flagging tape to mark the way.
I just stayed on the ridge until it met the western ridge coming off of Hayford Peak itself. There was a little elevation loss along this ridge until it started up Hayford Peak. Climbing up this last bit of Hayford the trail is very braided, but I just kept going up until I could see the summit area ahead. No real problems finding a path, I just stayed out of the brushy areas and off the few rocky outcroppings.
On the summit the views were good except it was a little hazy or smokey. I ate my lunch and then noticed that a cloud was beginning to form over the summit. I didn’t want to get caught in a thunderstorm like I saw the previous night, so I headed down. The cloud grew faster than I was walking. By the time I got back to the cabin, I thought I was ahead of the impending fireworks.
I still had about 5 miles to get to the car and the storm wasn’t going to wait for another 1 ½ hours while I walked out. About 2 miles from the car, the storm caught up with me. It started raining on me in copious amounts and there was lots of lightning and thunder behind me. I kept moving. I felt like if I turned around to look at the storm behind me, that I would forced to seek cover. Soon, I walked out from under the cloud and for the last mile of my hike I was in full sunshine and I dried out somewhat.
I was grateful when I got to the car. Total hike was about 15.3 miles, 7.2 hours and there was about 4,600ft of elevation gain with the ups and downs on the ridge. Thankfully, I took lots of water on this hike. It was 103 degrees at the Corn Creek Field Station when I left. On to my next hike on Arc Dome and to meet up with Dean .