I’ve learned something over the years. Balance. Work hard, relax hard. Shoot photos of bikes, shoot photos of nature. Ride a lot, hike a lot. When your hobby, passion and love is also your job, establishing this balance is of the utmost importance. So when NAHBS rolls around each year, I try to have an exit strategy…
This year, we were going to road trip down to Death Valley and hike Telescope Peak. Our trip took us from Sacramento, through Highway 395, its many hot springs and down from Big Pine to 168 before turning onto 190 and into Death Valley. We spent the first day driving on Saline Valley Road and exploring the many 4×4 tracks in the area. Already I was feeling more and more relaxed. Balanced.
Death Valley is where I go to re-establish balance. It’s quickly become my favorite National Park (even with its completely shit campgrounds – what the hell is up with that?) Each time I open a map, or a guide book, I find more and more roads, tracks and trails to explore.
The hikes in Death Valley are awe-inspiring and one in particular has been on my list since moving to California. Telescope Peak is one of the most unique places in the Lower 48. It’s the only place where you can see the highest point in the lower 48, and the lowest. Mt. Whitney’s snow-capped summit at 14,505′ and Badwater Basin’s sub-sealevel pastel landscape of -282.2′.
There are a few ways to summit this peak. We chose to camp at Mahogany Flat, a campground at 8,000′ the night before. This allowed our bodies to acclimate to elevation and we could begin at sunrise. Which turned to 8:30am before we knew it.
Since it’s early spring in Death Valley, Telescope still has snow on it. Cramp ons and hiking poles, along with sturdy hiking boots would enable us to scramble up through the knee-deep snow (in some areas) and summit without issue.
Here’s where it got weird. It took us 3.5 hours to reach the top and that’s where we ate lunch… Which consisted of way too many mushrooms. We ended up taking two hours to make it off the peak to the first saddle because we couldn’t walk due to excessive laughter. It was insane. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life and have never been so enthralled with nature.
The colors were morphing, clouds cascading across the peak and the 10,000 year old Bristlecone Pine trees were telling jokes with their crippled and curved posture.
We took our time, battled the wind, ice and snow as the sunset across the valley, casting shadows of peaks across our windburnt faces.
At 5:30pm we reached our campsite, cooked tacos, drank wine and fell asleep without a moment’s hesitation…