Winnedumah Paiute Monument - Inyo Mountains
Winnedumah Paiute Monument

Stan Haye, myself, Jim Meadowcroft and Carol Manning did a day hike to Winnedumah Paiute Monument (8369') on December 11, 1976 while I was living in nearby Lone Pine, California.

We left Lone Pine about 6:30 a.m. and after picking up Stan in Independence drove to the trailhead at Barrel Springs.

We followed the good trail up the ridge to a saddle at about 8,000 feet - Barrel Springs is about 6,000. We found a jeep road coming up from the south to mine claims here.

We then traversed along the west side of the crest, just below the rocky top - following the 8,000 foot contour with a little up and down.

If you get too high you get into the rocks. You can stay a little lower and avoid some of the up and down but it's about the same either way.

Stan and I arrived at the Monument about 11:30 a.m. Jim and Carol took a side trip into the rocks and didn't make it until almost 1 p.m.

Stan and I took pictures and ate lunch until they arrived, then after they ate, Jim set out to climb the rock. The wrong equipment, cold wind and shade on the route, etc. soon terminated this. Better luck next time.

About 2:15 we headed down (should have left about 1:45). Jim and Carol retraced the original route to the car and drove down to pick up Stan and I.

Stan and I traversed almost all the way back to the saddle, then cut across to the jeep road and followed it down to see where it came out.

Stan took a side trip down a canyon and we got separated. I went on to the main road and hiked about 1-1/2 miles up the road in the dark until meeting Jim and Carol and the car.

We drove back to the jeep road and Stan soon appeared traveling by flashlight after traversing out of the canyon onto the road.

Round trip by the trail is about 8 miles. Stan and I hiked about 12. It was a nice trip.

Winnedumah Paiute Monument
Winnedumah Paiute Monument

Winnedumah Paiute Monument
Winnedumah Paiute Monument

Winnedumah Paiute Monument Route Map

Blue line is road route, Red line is the hike in route we all took and Jim & Carol took out, Green line is the route out via the old mine roads that Stan and I took.

NOTE: The Barrel Springs access road is now blocked as it is inside the Inyo Mountains Wilderness. You could hike in from the Wilderness Boundary to the old Barrel Springs trailhead which is a short distance. The trail was on the 15 minute maps but is not on the 7.5 minute maps.

Most of the mine road Stan and I came down is now also in the Wilderness. Most people now drive from the Mazourka Road on the mine road to the Wilderness Boundary where there is parking and camping and then hike up the road and follow the ridge to the Monument.

The Legend Of Winnedumah

Long, long ago there lived in what the white man calls Owens River Valley, two tribes, one, the Paiutes, occupying the eastern side and the slopes of the Inyo Range, the other the Waucobas on the western side on the slopes of the Sierra and in particular the region about Mt. Williamson and extending westward to the valley now called San Joaquin.

The roaring ocean backed up its waters and flooded the wonderful valley, so that the Indians had to signal to each other by fires, but the Great spirit sent a terrible earthquake which shook the mountains for many days, and the pale waters fled away and the green grass came again. The tribes were at war.

One day on his lookout on Mt. Williamson, a Waucoba Brave, espying two Paiute brothers ascending the crest of the Inyo Range set to the sinewy bow-string of his mighty bow, an arrow made from a tree growing only in the western mountains. The arrow released from the twanging bow, winged its way fifteen miles across the valley and pierced the back of one of the Paiutes, who fell dead, his body turning to stone and lying face down across the crest. Head to the east, and feet to the west, terrified his brother started to run, but the Waucoba warrior in a voice of thunder shouted to him the command, Winnedumah! which means, STAY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE. And lo, the Paiute instantly became the shaft of granite and has never since moved, awaiting his release by the great spirit.

Marvelous to tell the fatal arrow took root in the stone body of its victim and grew into a tree, still living like that from which the arrow was made and the only one of its kind in the Inyo Range.


Do a Google Search on "The Legend Of Winnedumah" for other versions of the legend.

From SummitPost.Org

This Winnedumah Paiute Monument, an 80-foot rock monolith is all the more spectacular because of its location-at the top of the Inyo Crest, at the low point of a long saddle, about half way between Mount Inyo and Waucoba Mountain.

If you stop your vehicle at the southern end of Independence at the intersection of Hwy 395 and Mazourka Canyon Road, you can spot this incredible blade of rock, some 12 miles to the east. It towers above the peaks and crags surrounding it.

The Monument is named for Winnedumah, a Paiute medicine man (whose brother was the great Paiute Chief Tinnemaha). According to Paiute legend, he was transformed into this rock while invoking the help of the "great spirit" during the battle with the Digger Indians.

Getting There

Winnedumah is best approached (with high clearance vehicle) from Independence via Mazourka Canyon Road, which heads east off Highway 395 just south of town. Drive on the Mazourka Canyon Road for 8.4 miles. Turn RIGHT onto a very reasonable dirt road which has a gate (always open). Drive on this dirt road for about 1.9 miles uphill until you find a large (2-3 cars) flat spot on your RIGHT.

This parking spot is also a great camping site with the most incredible views of the Whitney and Williamson Massif's.

Across the road from this parking spot is an old mining dirt track going steeply uphill. The track is blocked by small boulders and includes a wilderness area sign prohibiting motorized access. To reach the Monument, follow this old mining track for about 1.6 miles uphill just past a large flat spot on the RIGHT side.

From this flat spot head EAST, crossing several ravines and minor gullies. Soon the Monument becomes visible and you can go straight for it. The distance to it is approximately 2.0 miles.

One encounters less of a large-boulder scramble if the monolith is finally reached from its SW side. The total distance from the camping spot is about 3.5 miles one way.

Route Description

The existing 5.4 or 5.5 route is on the NE side of the formation. It consists of about 100 feet of fairly steep face climbing with 2 beefy bolts and a wired piece placement(small to medium (#6?) BD Stopper) some 20 feet above the second bolt. There are no other protection possibilities. The rock is solid and provides for an enjoyable friction climb.

There are two large bolts on the top to assist with descending. Our 60m rope was plenty long to reach the ground via a pleasant rappel.

Essential Gear

60 meter rope. A few small to mid sized wired pieces to make a placement above the second bolt, three slings with two carabiners each to clip the two bolts and the placement above. Don't forget your harness, rock shoes and belay/rappel device.

The Monument is at elevation of 8,369'. The hike is most enjoyable in late fall and early spring to avoid the inevitable heat of the Owens Valley in mid summer and snow in the winter.

Please note that even though the route is short, the approach, climb and return to your vehicle will/might take most of a day!