Travelogue: Finally, the summit. It’s all ours. No one there! Mission accomplished. Winds have died, temperature 60-65. Crystal clear 360 views of Death Valley, the crags of the Panamint Mountain Range and Badlands Basin below. Spectacular scenery in every direction. Truly feeling that you are standing on top of the world, at least this part of it. Noteworthy: Some creative climber has left an actual telescope at the top. And multiple books of completed climbers’ logs. One particular recent post read: ‘I’m 69 and so proud!’ We’re not so crazy after all.
Reality: The euphoria of accomplishment negates the accumulating aches, pains and exhaustion of getting up here. As we pack up, reality returns. We are only half done. We are tired, our feet ache, and our muscles are sore. Pesky question again fleets in your mind; ‘Why did we do this?’ All the while, we’re mindful of the fact that falls are common on descents and a disaster, if you are injured. Especially in our advanced age! We, descend very carefully. ‘This is not a RACE’, we tell each other. The trail is dust and rocks of all sizes and a slip will roll you hundreds of feet downhill. We reach the ridgeline and the winds are back. We can feel our energy reserves dwindling as surely as you watch a gas tank empty. Off the ridge and on the final traverse down, the winds die and the temperatures climb into the 80s. Now we are tired, and hot, and anxious to be done with this climb. Going up is exciting; going down is monotonous, boring, exhausting, as you see nothing new, just a chore. Still, it is relief when the trail end is reached. Triumph, at last. High fives! A hug. But it is late in the day and a 200 miles drive to Las Vegas before we can celebrate with the fine cuisine of MacDonalds!
Reality: Water. Dehydration can be a killer. Better to drink too much and pee a few more times, than dry out and stop thinking clearly. But water is also heavy. We started out with 1.5 gallons in 12-pint bottles. Rather than carry all water to the top, we cached 5 bottles in Arcane Meadows for the way back. Ultimately, we didn’t need it, so we left them with a ‘FREE WATER’ sign for any thirsty future hikers. If you have hiked and gone dry, you know that water is liquid salvation.
Travelogue: Telescope Peak is a remote, but rewarding climb with fantastic views in every direction.
Reality: It is worth every ache, pain and inconvenience we encountered getting to and from the summit. Happy to be home. As long as we have energy and inspiration and perseverance, we will JUST DO IT!