A few years ago I did Telescope Peak with @sbkelley and everything went off without a hitch. So I returned with Kathy to try this beast again so she could experience the route from Shorty’s Well. We arrived the day before and car camped then waking up early to start hiking at 3:30am from Shorty’s Well -253 below sea level.
Not much to see in the dark but this is the relatively boring part of the hike up the road into Hanaupah Canyon although we did have some nice views of sunrise. The road continues for about 8 miles and gains a gradual 3000 feet as the road gets into the tighter part of Hanaupah and eventually stops. From there it’s a canyon hike upstream to where Hanaupah Spring appears out of nowhere at about 9 miles. The spring has very good flow with plenty of pools to filter from. We stopped to filter water and took a nice break since this was the only water source for the day.
After the break the route leaves Hanaupah Canyon on the north side about ½ mile from where we stopped for water. The initial climb is very steep but gets slightly easier towards the top ascending 1500 feet in about a mile. There are also some intermittent use trails that can be found on the ascent that make the steep more manageable. Once on top we were on the main ridge line that we would follow up to the Telescope Peak trail. We took another break here before doing the next 1.5 miles of ridge hiking with much less AEG and probably the easiest part of the hike.
Eventually the ridge starts to go vertical again as we took another break at 6500 feet. At this point we started to get awesome views of Death Valley and the low point Badwater Basin. We also started to hit the thicker pine trees for shade although it wasn’t that hot this high up on the mountain. This section definitely had the nicest stands of forest on the route so we took more breaks.
After the last break it was on and up the most difficult part of the route. It gains 2500 feet to where we reached Telescope Peak Trail but the most challenging part is the final section which gains 1900 feet in just 1 mile. Also, there was loose scree and talus on the relentless climb that made the nice clear trail a welcoming sight. This one really hurt! We took a quick breather and then headed for Telescope Summit.
We passed three other hikers heading down trail but had the place to ourselves once on top. Really awesome 360 views with BadWater Basin over 11,000 feet below and the Sierras to the west although it was a bit hazy. Usually you can make out Mt Whitney but not today. We took about 35 minute much needed break to take in the views and recover.
All packed up we headed back down the trail towards Mahogany Flat. It’s 7 miles to the campground but it’s good downhill trail so after what we just climbed it felt like an easy stroll. We arrived a little before dark and our shuttle driver Scott had camp all setup! We enjoyed not having to hike anymore and relaxing in camp. Mahogany Flat is a nice campground but there are only 10 spots first come first serve and they fill up fast. However, it all worked out after a great day of hiking!