Funeral Traverse

It was January 2020, I had just graduated college and I felt free as a bird. After hanging out at the Deep Creek Hot Springs for a few days with Ari, I picked Ira up in San Diego, and we headed out to Death Valley. I parked my van at the south end of the Funeral Mountains and we hitchhiked up to Hell’s Gate where we would begin our trip.

Ira with the Panamints and setting sun behind him

This is a route by Pepperflake, he made a map here. It was getting late and we did not make it far on the first day, a few miles up the first canyon. Shortly into the second day, the class three bypass of the waterfall proved too much for Ira, and we parted ways. Ira and I planned to do some hiking together and some apart on this trip, so we decided that I would do this hike on my own, and we would meet back up to hike together in a few days.

The route was extremely beautiful and well thought out. Pepperflake did a great job with this one. It had a great mix of canyons, ridgewalking, ghosttowns and great views. There is a spring halfway along the ridge at Indian Pass.

Unfortunately, I had brought my Unihertz Jelly Pro along for this trip, and the battery was failing. I had used this phone for about a year, but it was starting to give out. At two oz. it was ultralight, but also ultra sketchy. The second I turned it on, it would drain from 100% to 0%. This was problematic when attempting an off trail route in Death Valley.

On the third evening of the trip, I was heading down the final canyon to get back to the car. As my phone had failed, I had a 50/50 shot between two canyons. I guessed wrong and found myself in Big Drop Canyon.

Big Drop Canyon

Big Drop Canyon has a 600ft dryfall, that I eventually made my way around after lots of sketchy scrambling. After that, there were some smaller dry falls which I also had to navigate. Bring a proper phone and stay on Pepperflake’s route.

Looking back on Big Drop (white water marks on center right)
Hole in the Wall

I walked through the Hole in the Wall and saw some Big Horn Sheep Scampering around. Then a few miles across the desert to get back to the car. When I got to the van, Ira was nowhere to be found. I did find a $230 ticket in the car for illegal camping. I finally tracked down Ira. Turns out he had been camping in my car (which isn’t allowed since I was parked on a paved road). A ranger saw him and gave him a $230 ticket.

Ira and I did another hike together, out to Hidden Arch. We stayed together this time. The location of Hidden Bridge is not available on the internet, so I won’t share too many more details here.