Not too far from Death Valley National Park with most of the day to kill. Check for a hike naturally. I usually start with the highest peak and then move backwards. This time the goal was achievable, though not nothing. 23km round trip and 1000 meters of elevation gain would get me to the top of the highest peak in Death Valley – Telescope Peak (because you can see 100 miles from the top).

Ancient charcoal kilns near the trailhead

I started off with a bit of sense, covering up all my skin from the desert sun. Afterwards, even 3L of water would prove to be not near enough for my liking. Within the first hour I passed 2 people returning to the trailhead – that would be the last human encounter of the day.

The trail is straight-forward and well trod. Of course I made it more difficult by hiking to the top of the nearby peaks along the way. Then wasting time getting dramatic drone footage (thinking back now, I guess that was illegal. oops).

View of the summit in the distance

It was at the time of the dramatic drone footage that thing started to go wrong. I flew the drone over a ridge on low batteries and had to land it out of site. On my way to retrieve the bird, I slipped on some shale and caught my finger the wrong way. The fall didn’t hurt very much but when I looked at my finger it was inside out. Shocked, I pushed all the guts back in and tried to recover composure. First things first, scramble back up the shale and get to the trailhead (this took the best part of an hour).

After getting back on the trail, I determined I was about 1/4 into the hike. My finger wasn’t bleeding very much and didn’t hurt too much if held in a certain manner so I decided to press on for the summit. The whole finger episode zapped most of my energy and wits so the remaining 10km and 600m of elevation proved to be difficult. I did eventually crawl to my way to the summit but it was hard to enjoy (note facial expression on attached photo).

Telescope Peak Summit
Forcing a smile for the summit selfie
View north from the summit (Sierra Nevadas clearly visible)

With the goal accomplished and water nearly depleted, the return journey was an absolute slog. The last few kms were spent chanting water related words and imagery. After collapsing into the car, I promptly drove to the hospital.

Surprisingly and even though I swear I had a white thing sticking out of my finger, the x-ray proved otherwise. There was no fracture at all. After a good cleaning and some stitches I was on my way. The doctor was a bit concerned that it was 10 hours between injury and hospital.

P.S. if you are super human or slightly crazy you can hike this from the valley floor up 3450m of elevation and 35km in one day. Confirmation that it is possible without dying –