This report is a continuation of the report on Never-Ending Ever-Changing Canyon. That report covered Day 1 of a 3-day backpacking trip that we did into the Owlshead Mountains, while this report covers Days 2 and 3. Before I continue the account of our backpacking trip, let me share a few thoughts for those who are reading this report and plan to carry out a day hike of Owlhead BM. Owlhead BM is the most challenging summit to reach as a day hike in the Owlshead Mountains. There are two main reasons for this. First, you have to drive all the way out Owlshead Mountains Road to the parking area for Lost Lake. From Furnace Creek, that is about a 3-hour drive one-way for most high clearance vehicles. Thus, it would be wise to drive out the night before the hike and camp at this location. Second, the hike itself is very long, being anywhere from 18-22 miles round-trip depending on the route chosen. Doing the shorter version of the hike (18 miles) is not really worth it because it means skipping the Lost Lake crossing, which is an unforgettable experience. You also have to deal with much rougher terrain for most of the hike. The full version of the hike (22 miles) includes enjoying the nice path along the old road from the parking area to the dry lake (4.1 miles), crossing Lost Lake in its entirety (2.2 miles), following sandy washes up into the range (2.5 miles), and then climbing the ridge to the summit (2.2 miles). On the return hike, it would also be worthwhile to check out the amazing slot canyon that we are calling Owlhead BM Slot Canyon. More details of the full route can be found in the paragraph below, which continues the account of our backpacking trip.
On Day 1, we had parked our first vehicle on Warm Springs Road, backpacked up Wingate Wash, turned off into the major canyon to the south, taken a side trip up Never-Ending Ever-Changing Canyon, and then camped overnight at the mouth. On Day 2, we continued backpacking up and over the range by way of the main canyon we had turned off into the day before. Along the way, we explored Wingate Slot 4, a short side canyon, and White Ring Hill Canyon. To see location maps for these canyons, check out Topo Map 2 contained on the report for Never-Ending Ever-Changing Canyon. Wingate Slot 4 was not overly impressive but it did have an amazing giant boulder to work around which had fallen into the canyon. The nearby side canyon we next checked out had some impressive colorful formations on canyon walls. White Ring Hill Canyon (which we had great hopes for) proved to be impassable a short distance in. We kept encountering major dry falls one after another, and the rock was very crumbly. Climbing and bypassing the dry falls did not feel safe. One in our group sustained a minor injury. Thus, in the interest of safety, we called off our exploration of White Ring Hill Canyon. Back in the main canyon, we continued hiking up that until reaching a crest. Upon crossing the range, we descended the other side and entered into the second canyon over, which we have labeled as Owlhead BM Slot Canyon. We hiked that canyon for a short distance and then climbed out of it by way of a gully. We then set up camp on a soft plateau above and enjoyed a nice sunset overlooking Lost Lake and Owl BM. On Day 3, we woke up and left camp set up as we headed for the Owlhead BM summit. The morning sunshine was directly in our line of sight, which made picture taking challenging. It was also extremely windy and cold outside. After following the gentle (and very rocky) slope uphill for a while, we crossed over a large wash and then started the steep summit climb. There were a couple of sections that were slow-going but very manageable. From below the summit, we spotted its location due to some wooden marker poles that were still standing. We then attained the summit ridgeline and had our first view to the east over the other side. We were quite stunned at how much we were able to see from this spot. A few minutes later, we arrived at Owlhead BM and were even more overwhelmed by the outstanding views in all directions. We all agreed that this was one of the very best summit viewpoints in the entire park. I appreciated being able to see all three major dry lakes in the Owlshead Mountains -- Lost Lake (below us to the southwest), Wingate Dry Lake (7 1/2 miles to the west), and Owl Lake (6 miles to the southeast). Surprisingly, my favorite view was of the colorful face of Epaulet Peak (19 miles to the northeast). In looking through the summit registry book, it was interesting to find that only 10 groups have visited this major peak in the last 10 years. However, 4 of those 10 groups reached the summit in 2018 alone. One group reached the summit by hiking all the way from Badwater Road via Owlshead Canyon. That was quite a feat as a day hike. Once we were finished with pictures, we took a different route down because we wanted to explore more fully the canyon that takes shape about 1 mile to the west beneath the summit. During trip planning, the canyon looked to have some lengthy slot narrows. Owlhead BM Slot Canyon was truly outstanding. After carefully scrambling down a very steep ridge and hillside, the terrain leveled off and we found a way to drop into the canyon. Hiking down canyon, there was one medium-difficulty dry fall we had climb down, but there were very few other obstacles after that. We soon entered what we have labeled on the map as the 2nd Narrows, passing through towering walls of conglomerate rock. There were several incredibly beautiful spots within these narrows. We were truly excited to find a great slot canyon in such an isolated location. The 2nd Narrows transitioned into an open area. We then passed by a major junction in the canyon with a fork splitting off in another direction. Continuing down canyon, we soon entered the more lengthy 1st Narrows. The canyon walls were shallower in height here but also quite impressive to pass through. At the end of the 1st Narrows, we used the same gully to climb out of the canyon that we had on the previous day (see map). Owlhead BM Slot Canyon had really delivered some impressive scenery. After returning to camp, we found one of our tents destroyed by the wind. We packed up camp and backpacked down toward the northern tip of Lost Lake. The terrain was still rocky, but eventually we entered a sandy wash and followed that major wash and some smaller ones until we reached Lost Lake. Crossing Lost Lake with our full backpacks while heading directly into a fierce wind was challenging but fun. It was interesting to check out the variety of designs on the lakebed surface. Also it was nice to stop every once in a while and enjoy the scenery, such as the view across the lake of the snow-capped Panamint Mountains to the north. One of the highlights of Lost Lake is finding the moving rocks. The moving rocks of Lost Lake are similar to those found at The Racetrack, but smaller and hardly known to the outside world. Upon finishing our crossing of the lake, we picked up the old road and followed that back to our second vehicle parked at the trailhead. Thus, we had completed our second lifetime traverse of the Owlshead Mountains. Our hikes took place on February 8-9, 2019.