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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Telescope Peak from Shorty's Well, CA

no permit
127 6 0
Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > Death Valley
5 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Shuttle 21.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation -256 feet
Elevation Gain 11,303 feet
Accumulated Gain 11,700 feet
Avg Time Hiking 8-16 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 60.89
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Yes
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
35  2018-05-19 BiFrost
17  2016-05-21 JuanJaimeiii
24  2016-05-21 BiFrost
19  2016-05-21 sbkelley
9  2016-05-21 joebartels
23  2016-05-21 desert_boonie
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,259 map ( 21,438 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, May, Apr, Sep
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:34am - 5:46pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Culture Nearby
crawl out of the shadow of death
by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
Shuttle hike from Shorty's Well ( 253 ft below sea level ) to Telescope Peak 11,048 then down to Mahogany Campground. For reference Shorty's Well is on the western edge of the Badwater Basin ( 282 ft below sea level ). Which is just west of the headwaters for the Amargosa River... leave ye rafts at home.

Death Valley 101
The valley proper is about 40 miles in length and 8-12 miles wide east to west. To the west of this dry lake valley is the Panamint mountain range named after the Panamint Indians. To the east lies the Amargosa range with ominous peak names like Dante and Funeral.

"Shorty" Alexander Borden, a miner, dug the well that bears his name without the aid of power equipment. He built the road up Hanaupah Canyon with his burros named "Hanaupah Jack" and "Tule Hole" to access his claim. Using nothing more than a crowbar, pickax and possibly some dynamite he completed the road from Oct 1932 to Mar 1933.

Borden mined 40 tons of ore that assayed around $24 per ton. Unfortunately at $26+ to transport to the nearest smelter in Salt Lake City the operation was a bust. Shorty left the ore and moved on. By the late 1930's the title on his mine lapsed. Years later, World War II brought smelters closer as the price of lead skyrocketed. A couple trucks drove up Shorty's hand built road, took his ore and cashed in on his hard labor. Shorty never received a penny. Luckily as a WWI veteran he was able to retire in Lone Pine on his compensation.

The ascent at 11,240 feet is among the highest in the US.

From Shorty's Well follow the old mining road a good 8 miles up into the South Fork of Hanaupah Canyon. At 3 miles is an exciting 8 foot boulder. Creosote and brittlebush are the first signs of life around 5 miles. The road fades and you keep heading up the wash. Just use the path of least resistance. Looking for cairns would be a waist of time. Gravel, sand and low brush slows you down a bit.

Just after 9 miles the creek was flowing on our trip. Which seemed impressive for this mineral dust bowl. Topo shows a spring another 0.6 mi up canyon and Hanaupah Spring 0.9 mi so it may not always flow down this far. Burros inhabit the area so filtering the water is recommended.

We crossed the creek and stayed closer to the north side until 9.4 mi. Here near the "ny" in "Canyon" on topo we ascended up to the ridge that divides Middle and South Hanaupah canyons. It's a steep 1,300 to 1,550 ascent depending on how you do it. A left on a use-trail at 4,930 makes the top few hundred feet much easier to negotiate. According to Shorty burros have trails all the way up and over the other side of the range. In planning, this part looked daunting. After hiking 9 miles of hard to loose gravel my hip rejoiced on this ascent.

Intermittent faint trails along the ridge take you into scattered pines. On our cooler than normal May 21st hike I switched over to a long sleeve shirt and pants. After pines lift your spirits, scree/talus fields beat you down. These are not nail biting rock slides like I've surfed at Grand Canyon. Rather a workout on tired legs. Perhaps burro trails skirt slightly north.

Just after 14 mi you pickup the summit trail. Statistically it isn't a wall between 12 and 14 miles but it sure seemed liked it. We took three breaks ranging from 6 to 12 minutes in this area.

We rejoiced when we came to the maintained trail to the summit. It felt like a 1.7 mi stroll. After a well deserved break at the summit it's 6.2 mi down to Mahogany Flat Campgrounds. Please note the upper end of this hike is often covered in snow when it's nicest at the bottom. I'll guess... late Oct to early Nov & Apr is prime time for this hike.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. It would be insane to attempt this entire hike without prior experience hiking.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2016-05-24 joebartels
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Telescope Peak from Shorty's Well
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    When most people hear the word desert they often think of the one place I have yet to see, Death Valley. Their misconception of this place is like that of what you see on cinema, a gila monster crawling up on a rock with a perfect saguaro in the foreground while a convertible car goes by on the highway. A place that holds no value, no entertainment to the common person. A barren wasteland where nothing grows and nobody should go into. It's funny to hear certain opinions, it is even more amusing to see their facial expressions and you tell them a story like this.

    We drove into the salt marsh past the golden hour, in fact the midnight hour was approaching and I was trying my best to make out the landscape in the dimness from the headlights of a moving vehicle. It was my first time to this place and I couldn't even see it, not knowing if I would get the chance on the way out a part of me was thinking we should have had a different plan as I wasn't even getting to see a place I have dreamed about going. It didn't seem to take long to arrive at Furnace Creek and make the turn for Shorty's Well. You could feel the car shift while driving down the road, the winds were making their presence felt and had me pondering how much it was going to affect us while hiking on up the mountain. We reach our turnoff and proceed down the graded dirt road to Shorty's Well. Bump after bump, you felt every grade in the road where when you reached the soft sand it made you feel grateful for the soft car seats and then we were there.

    We stepped out of the vehicle once parked and had our first taste of what the strong gusting winds had blowing our direction. It was quite fierce and we might have looked at each other and knew what was on each others minds but didn't say anything. It was pretty much time to set up camp and get a few hours of sleep. It was the worst night of camping you could have, as Scott set up his tent somehow, Pam would have her car, and I just looked for the best spot on the desert floor to lay down my sleeping pad and close my eyes. The wind wouldn't let you sleep really. After the first hour of laying there with my hoorag covering my face I might have finally faded into the glow of the moonlight. It wouldn't last long, every twenty minutes it seemed a new gust would awaken me out of my sleep. When this happened I would just turn on my light, look at the time and look around me to make sure no desert creatures were lurking around me. This is how the night went for me for the four hours we were there. Suddenly there was a new sensation for me in the darkness, it was my wake up call in the form of a cold wet dog nose. Thanks Rincon.

    My adrenaline rush began, it was time to get ready and go which was fine by me since the night wasn't too enjoyable. I stood up as Rincon ran away, dusted myself off from the fresh thick layer of sand that had built up on me during the windy night. I pick up my sleeping pad and see at least five scorpions scatter from the eye of my headlamp. I make sure no more are on my pad before I roll it up and put it away. I head over to Scott to ask him if any were on my back and once I got the answer I was looking for we got our packs ready and headed out to start this adventure.

    I had to make sure to touch the well before we left and snapped a picture of it, we met Karl over at his vehicle and started on up the road towards Hanaupah Canyon. The winds were still gusting but seemed to have calmed a bit, in the back of my mind all I could think about was they sucked too much moisture out of me during the night and I felt unusually dry for this type of adventure. The glow from the moon made it to where we didn't need to use our lights to see, it also made the giant silhouette of the Panamint Mountains ahead loom large and intimidate as well as invite you towards them. The three of us seemed to make good time up this road, we looked back and could see some fast moving lights from below and we all knew it had to be JJ driving towards the starting line. Sunrise came and we were towards the base of the mountain, finally it felt like the hike was starting as anyone who knows me knows my feelings about walking on desert roads. We make our first turn at the base of the rock and where now in the canyon, the road ended and it was time to make our way to the spring where we would filter water and stock up our supplies for the giant climb up the ridge. How strange it felt to be in the middle of Death Valley and hear running water, and then you see what looks like a flowing creek is quite amazing. We found a good size pool to filter in and that is when I noticed something, there was a quiet calm feeling all of a sudden, the winds had virtually stopped and that is when we started to hear voices coming. JJ and Joe had caught up to us and it was time to start the gain up the ridge.

    There are several faint paths to switchback on going up the steep mountainside, I turn around to see the mine and look into the canyon further up and you could see a lush landscape which was pleasantly unexpected. The higher you go the more you do not want to look up because you do not feel like you are not gaining any ground on the summit. We gather at a spot in the middle of the ridge and it was time to let JJ and Joe go their own way as they sped up the ridge while I wanted to keep a nice cadence the entire way and not burn out. It was fun to hit the first treeline, it was here the views started to open up and looking back down upon the badwater basin was amazing. Through the trees we went and then came the giant scree field climb up to the ridgeline and the trail.

    Upon reaching the trail we collected our wind and took a look towards the summit and the last push. We knew we would see JJ and Joe coming back down and we did. They told us about fifteen people, two dogs, and a drone are up on the summit. We make out way along the last steep switchbacks and see the final push to the summit which was very inviting because it was relatively flat to the summit. Our timing was great, after a few minutes everyone else that was up top started to make their way down and we had the summit all to ourselves. The three hundred and sixty degree views up top are amazing and some of the best I have ever seen on a mountain top. This made the long grueling hike to the top worth it as half way up your legs start to burn and do not stop until you reach the end which was the campground two hours away from the summit.

    You tell people about snow and high mountains in the middle of Death Valley and you get that look that only makes you laugh because of the fact they have no idea what this place really has to offer. I cannot wait to come back and see more of this place without doing an adventure that wipes you out. The love of the desert is special and I am glad to have been a part of this adventure.
    Telescope Peak from Shorty's Well
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    jj sums the hike up well in his [ triplog ]
    Thanks for driving, the caviar and the crackers too!

    Scott deserves the lifetime award for persistent planning which included a thousand year flood, snow in May and scheduling conflicts.

    Great to see the Good Humor Man, the Frosts and the dog sitter too!

    On April 15th Carrie Underwood hiked Camelback. I made the poor choice of hitting Squaw Peak. Missed Carrie and something in my knee popped. Standing without falling over was a challenge. With Telescope on the horizon I modified RICE. Dropped rest, ice, compress and converted elevate to exercise. Dialed back to flat hikes I could manage with hiking poles. After four weeks got back to average on Squaw. A week ago I began to press it. Two days to go I felt a slight tear. Instead of worrying about it I vested my trust in the full moon. The hike went well and the moon was beautiful. Doo, bow bow, chick chicka chicka

    Death Valley is very intriguing. The drive along Furnace Creek is a kaleidoscope of mineral hues. Mountains beside each other can be drastically different.

    Permit $$
    no fees or permits reported

    if incorrect tell us about it

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    To Shorty's Well:
    From CA-190 Head southeast on Badwater Rd and follow 5.9 mi
    Turn right onto West Side Rd and follow 10.7 mi
    Turn left onto Shortys Well Rd and follow 446 ft

    Mahogany Shuttle see [ gps route ]
    page created by joebartels on Oct 12 2015 9:02 pm
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