Friday, May 28, 2010

Telescope view

  The day I arrived it snowed several inches in Death Valley National Park. That was not what I was expecting, and let me explain why it's not quite as freaky as it sounds.
  The actual Death Valley, an area partly below sea level, lies between two mountain ranges. One is the Panamints, which along with the Sierras catches much of the moisture coming from the Pacific, leaving the valley in a rain shadow. So, it was the Panamints that caught the snow and rain.
  The highest of the Panamints is Telescope Peak, and the 6.6-mile trail to the top was covered much of the way by snow the next day. The last 1,000 feet of elevation gain was interesting, with new snow covering old snow and making each step uncertain, but I struggled to the top by 1 p.m.
  The view was incredible. From the top of Telescope Peak (11,049 feet) you see the highest point in the Lower 48 (Mount Whitney, 14,491 feet) and the lowest point (Badwater, 282 feet below sea level).


  1. So I'm assuming none of the rain and snow from the Panamints drains down into the basin?

    I've always wondered about the origin of Badwater. The name may well speak for itself, but there must be a story behind the moniker. There always is.

    Nice job on the 6.6 to the top, John. You deserved the vista.


  2. Michael, you're keeping me honest.
    Yes, water drains down, but what does evaporates much too quickly to form a lake.
    The name came from one of the first white men to enter the area. He couldn't get his mule to drink the briny water. Therefore, bad water.

  3. Bear Grills would drink it.