Death Valley trip

TRs for ranges other than the San Gabriels. Old TRs are archived in subforums.

Death Valley trip

Joined: November 28th, 2010, 3:09 pm

April 8th, 2018, 3:23 am #1

Spoiler - I didn't hike Telescope Peak.

With Good Friday off I made a very long drive from City of Industry to DVNP on Thursday night. What was supposed to be easy wasn't, since while at work I realized that I had forgotten my stove. I've done this before, and since I didn't want to purchase yet another Jetboil - I have two now - I had to make alternate plans. One was to convert to no-cook meals, the other was to see what might be available cheaply and on the way - after some map searching I found a Walmart and a REI in the same shopping center in Burbank. Hurray, I headed there after sitting in plenty of traffic. Since I made a wrong turn getting off the 5, I was able to stop at Sprouts and pick up some granola for breakfast, a lunch package of salami and cheese plus a couple of plain bagels and a package of beef jerky. Even with that, I still wanted hot chocolate..... So I went to Walmart where they were supposed to have a folding camp stove including fuel for just eight bucks, but after searching the store and the app I was unable to find one. REI listed a stove similar to Jetboil but using esbit for 30 dollars plus another ten for the fuel but I decided to pass on that item. To celebrate my decision making I had my first no-cook meal as I stopped at McDonalds on the way out. :)   After lots more sitting in traffic, including 15 minutes just for the transition to the 14 North, I saw the magic sign and stopped at the Walmart in Palmdale or wherever it is up there. They had the magic stove and it was on sale for just $4.87! On the way out I picked up an aluminum 18 ounce mug for $1.96 and three gallons of water so I was all set. After that it was just a lot of driving, since I was somewhat low on fuel I detoured through Ridgecrest to fill up and then headed to the park through the smelly areas of Trona and Searles. I lost my camera lens cap taking a photo of the entrance sign some time after midnight, and finally stopped on the side of the road somewhere near Towne Pass for a few hours of sleep in the back of the Ranger.
On Friday I got to visit the part, driving all the way to the other side of the valley to walk out on the Badwater flat area. I read they removed the benchmark years ago after plenty of vandalism and theft, and my iPhone never displayed anything but -280 feet in elevation so I don't know if I actually reached the lowest point. From this side I had a pretty good view of Telescope Peak, and the ridge between Bennett and the summit looked to be pretty solid snow, perhaps even a large cornice. On my travels this day I went to the visitor center at Furnace Creek, where a helpful ranger gave me an update from just two weeks prior, stating that the route consisted of thigh-high snow. Maybe a little lower for me, as she was about a foot shorter.... Another guy said there was a good track through the snow, he may have been the one I called a few days earlier when I got the same story. Anyway, with only a pair of Microspikes I was not prepared for that kind of adventure and certainly wasn't interested in breaking trail for six miles. So now I had made a very long drive to not hike, instead I did tourist things like the Mesquite Flat sand dunes and the Natural Bridge. While in the parking area for the artist's palette, I read through the newsletter and noticed that Wildrose Peak might be a good alternative, at just over 9K feet the snow may not be so bad. This hike leaves from the charcoal kilns, where I would have to park for Telescope anyway, so I headed up that direction with the intent of staying at the free Wildrose campground. Since it was early afternoon I secured a site that also had a little flat spot for my tent, so I was a happy camper. I spent the rest of the day reading John Dean's book "The Nixon Defense" on my Kindle and drinking plenty of water, even on a relatively cool day it's easy to get dehydrated. Since it was still light out I was able to try out the stove, successfully boiling a large cup of water to make instant mashed potatoes and bacon mac + cheese. I followed that up with some Balvenie scotch so it was a pretty good meal. After watching the full moon rise it was time to get a decent sleep, being limited to about three hours the first night.
Saturday dawned cloudy and cool, but fortunately I was able to cook up water once again, it's amazing how much better it makes me feel to have that option. I drove up the road to the kilns, fortunately a couple drivers allowed me to pass as they were averaging about 1 mph over a very rutted dirt road with plenty of little stream washouts. No problem for me, I have high ground clearance! OK, finally on to the hiking part here... The trail is really nice, it goes through a forest of large juniper trees and is surprisingly green. After a flat start, it climbs in a hurry to a saddle where through the trees are some outstanding views of the Badwater side of the park. From there it ascends again to another saddle before climbing pretty steeply to the summit of Wildrose Peak. The final section has a few switchbacks to make it a bit less difficult, but it was still over 700 feet of gain in the last mile. Some great views made it a little easier, Rogers and Telescope to one side and Badwater to the other. I could see the road to Mahogany Flat which was gated below, it didn't have any snow but the trail along and around Rogers Peak had plenty of white stuff. Anyway, two hours after hitting the trail I reached the summit where I was greeted with a view of the Sierra Nevada over 100 miles away. I could see from Olancha Peak all the way up to Mt Tom or Mammoth, I don't know which but I think Mammoth since it sits apart from the rest of the snow-covered peaks. I hung out for a while up there, finally meeting up with a couple that had invaded my campsite the night before and talking with a few other hikers while enjoying the scenery. After that it was just lots of downhill, when I got back to the trailhead I was walking faster than a large motorhome was driving up the road. He was trying to turn that thing around in the parking area, while making a 37-point turn I flagged him down and said I was leaving so he could just back up into my spot.
On the way out I stopped at an old mine and then visited Augerberry Point, which is an amazing road and has outstanding views of the park. After lunch at that summit I drove back out. Since I was again low on fuel, I headed over to Stovepipe Wells and got three gallons of gas and then drove to Lone Pine where I fueled up again and had a nice BBQ dinner. Turned out I would have made it with the gas I had, but better safe than sorry out there. A mere 204 miles later I was home, although I stopped at Kramer Junction for a chocolate shake at BK.

Pics below....

DSC02227_sc.jpg I only got to 280 feet below. A sign high on the rocks across the road shows sea level.

DSC02236_sc.jpg Telescope Peak towering above the salty Badwater flats. The trail heads from right to left in this photo.

DSC02252_sc.jpg Natural Bridge, which was a bit disappointing. I was expecting something spectacular.

DSC02223_sc.jpg I had some lunch in the shade here, Telescope Peak in the far background.

DSC02214_sc.jpg Sand dunes, I didn't walk all the way out to the largest set. This is extremely fine sand here.

DSC02284_sc.jpg New camp kitchen. I'm looking through Hikin Jim's place to see if he has a review of this unit.

DSC02285_sc.jpg Charcoal kilns, the road to Mahogany Flat is behind me while the trail to Wildrose is at the end of the row.

DSC02298_sc.jpg The early part of the trail was a road at one time so wide and fairly level.

DSC02306_sc.jpg View of Badwater from the first saddle.

DSC02314_sc.jpg I actually didn't know which peak was Wildrose, the trail doesn't take what seems an obvious route across this face.
Last edited by JeffH on April 8th, 2018, 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Argue for your limitations and sure enough they're yours"
(Donald Shimoda)
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Joined: November 28th, 2010, 3:09 pm

April 8th, 2018, 3:31 am #2

Part 2 here, more pictures since I hit the Tapatalk limit of fun in a single post.


DSC02320_sc.jpg Still a ways to go up, this is the last section.

DSC02324_sc.jpg I'm standing on a false summit before the actual peak.

DSC02327_sc.jpg Summit cairn, Sierras in the far far background.

DSC02329_sc.jpg Requisite benchmark photo.

DSC02336_sc.jpg Summit pose, I was drying off my long sleeve shirt and it was a cool breeze up there.

DSC02342_sc.jpg Rogers Peak with Telescope peeking up behind. The cut of the trail was visible from here.

DSC02345_sc.jpg I also found a little snow on my hike.

DSC02386_sc.jpg Looking down from Augerberry Point.

DSC02391_sc.jpg Augerberry Point summit. A tiny trail goes behind the rocks for big views.

IMG_5225.jpg Posing at Augerberry. Too windy to stand on top of the rocks.
"Argue for your limitations and sure enough they're yours"
(Donald Shimoda)
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Sean
Cucamonga Man
Sean
Cucamonga Man
Joined: July 27th, 2011, 6:32 pm

April 8th, 2018, 4:36 am #3

Nice tour of Death Valley. When is the super bloom?
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Joined: November 28th, 2010, 3:09 pm

April 8th, 2018, 1:37 pm #4

No super bloom this year, it was too dry over the winter. Lots of tiny purple and yellow flowers were blooming along the roadsides.
I've read that we won't even get much bloom for the poppies up in Antelope Valley.
"Argue for your limitations and sure enough they're yours"
(Donald Shimoda)
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Joined: November 15th, 2017, 9:18 pm

April 10th, 2018, 2:53 pm #5

Nice photos, I've been there a number of times and there is a ton of great stuff to see and do even if you don't do any big hikes. I was luckily able to get out there to see the super bloom and it was fantastic! It'll probably be a while before we have another one...
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