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Telescope Peak from Shorty's Well
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mini location map2016-05-21
23 by photographer avatardesert_boonie
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Telescope Peak from Shorty's WellDeath Valley, CA
Death Valley, CA
Hiking avatar May 21 2016
Hiking21.68 Miles 11,601 AEG
Hiking21.68 Miles   11 Hrs   50 Mns   1.83 mph
11,601 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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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.
"Never Satisfied"
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