Telescope Peak

Telescope Peak is the highest peak in Death Valley, and I wanna go stand on top of it. It's a 12.5 mile strenuous hike with a lot of elevation change (+3,254' total roundtrip elevation gain) - we'll have to climb 300 feet just to get to sea level. In addition, depending on road conditions, we may have to hike an extra 1 - 1.5 miles each way to get from the campsite to the trailhead. There is no water anywhere near the trail, so you'll have to carry your own. Definitely not a beginner hike. That being said, if you're in decent shape and want to try peak bagging, or add to your list of bagged peaks, this is probably a good one to do. 12.5 miles isn't horribly far, the weather should be decent, and no one's gonna judge you if you take all day or turn around early. 

The plan: Leave early on the 15th - it's a long drive, but I'd like to leave early enough to get there in time to check out some of the park. Maybe do a short, flat hike after setting up camp, maybe just cruise around and take some photos, maybe just do our own thing cause we're sick of being stuck in a car with each other for hours on end. Death Valley is huge, and there's a bunch of cool stuff - if there's something you absolutely want to check out, this would be the time.

Early on the 16th - Hike up to the top of Telescope Peak. A few high fives, a lot of pictures, a summit beer if that's your thing (it's mine, for sure), and then...Turn around and hike back down. The rest of the time is yours. 

17th - Pack up camp and head out. I wouldn't mind spending a few hours in the morning surfing the sand dunes, but if people aren't down with that then we'll just head back home or do something else. 

Not gonna lie - this trip is gonna feel like "a lot." A day of strenuous hiking in the desert sandwiched between two very long days in a car. In addition, road conditions in Death Valley vary greatly, and we won't have much - if any - warning if a road we were planning on taking is closed, or limited to 4 wheel drive vehicles. The camping *should* be car camping, which affords us some added comfort, but if the road to the campsite is closed, that adds a 4 mile hike from the parking lot to the campsite, meaning we either give up or carry those extra comforts. A sense of humor coupled with a sense of adventure will go a long way on this trip. I have no qualms about telling anybody to quit their whining. 

As for cost - there is no cost to camp at Mahogany Flats. There will be gas, maybe tolls, stopping for lunch on the drives, etc. There is also an entry fee to the park. I have a Park Pass to cover my vehicle, if no one else has one for a second vehicle then it seems only fair that we all split the cost - shouldn't be more than a few bucks. It should be low-cost, but there won't be any way of giving you a total amount until we get there, possibly until we return.

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  • Jennifer

    I'm interested and potentially would like to drive back on sunday as well. Is there a plan or a spreadsheet for car pools! Thanks!

    April 4, 2014

    • Jet

      Hey! Looks like it's down to just you and I. I definitely have to drive back Saturday. Are you still planning to attend?

      May 3, 2014

    • Jennifer

      Hi sorry I was traveling and off the grid for a bit, just now getting back to emails this week. Are you still going? What is the plan? Also, if you need to move it to another weekend I'm available.

      May 14, 2014

  • Miranda G.

    If only I wasn't house sitting!! I'd be down for this trip! Sad face

    April 21, 2014

  • Maura

    Sorry, I can't do this one, either! I'll be on the East coast then.

    April 15, 2014

  • Amalin

    This sounds great. I would like to stay over an extra night and return Sunday, if anyone is up for that, given the long RT drive from the Bay Area. I have a front wheel drive (Saab sedan) but it's got a pretty low center of gravity and isn't 4 wheel, so I may have to rent a vehicle...

    1 · January 30, 2014

    • Jet

      Oh no! Feel better and heal quickly!

      1 · February 3, 2014

    • Amalin

      Thanks. Had surgery 10 days ago - lateral meniscus trim and aspiration of meniscal cyst. Hope to be backpacking trip-ready by mid-June. Enjoy the Spring trails, ladies.

      March 21, 2014

  • Kendra

    The first paragraph doesn't make sense ("+3,254' total roundtrip elevation gain - we'll have to climb 300 feet just to get to sea level").
    Telescope Peak is at 11,000 ft. If you were climbing from 300 feet below sea level, that would be more than 11,000 ft of elevation gain. There is a trailhead at Mahogany Flat campground (8,133 ft). That is probably the intended starting point, not the valley.
    May can often be over 110 °F in the valley, which is another good reason to start the hike at 8000+ ft.

    February 7, 2014

    • Jet

      It was cut and pasted from a late night browsing session. My apologies. As May gets closer, I'll send a much more detailed, accurate description of the trail.

      February 10, 2014

  • Chowmix

    This looks great, has been on my to-do list for years. Would do it on a Friday-Sunday, but sadly cannot take off the two days of work.

    January 9, 2014

    • Jet

      I totally understand. My work week is Sunday - Wednesday, so I planned around that to avoid having to use up vacation time. Plus, less crowds.

      January 9, 2014

    • Kendra

      I would also like to do it on a Fri-Sun.

      February 7, 2014

  • Amalin

    Thanks. It's a bit of a drag. Hoping for the best . Looking forward to an outing with y'all sometime soon. Seems like a great group. Have fun!

    1 · February 4, 2014

  • Marianne

    Provisional yes--this is an awesome adventure! I have camped at Mahogany Flats and hiked part way on the peak trail. The "road" up to the campground is very rough and rocky, my Subaru Outback made it but I wouldn't try it in a lower-clearance vehicle, nor if further degraded by rain/mud (unlikely in May, though). My participation depends on factors that can't be known this far out, but I will keep my RSVP updated.

    1 · January 21, 2014

  • Morgan

    Sounds like an awesome adventure. I am a tentative yes! But I need to confirm later since that is the end of my semester (I'm a teacher) and I may have students who need me….sometimes it's hard to know. I'll just hope I can be a last minute add on!

    1 · January 12, 2014

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  • Jet
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