A friend and I left Vegas on Sunday afternoon to go snowshoeing in Death Valley. Our original plan was to leave "noonish" which turned into about 3:30 p.m. Despite our late start, we got to Death Valley while it was still light out.
But not for long.
We were able to find a place to park the molester van and sleep for the night that wasn't too far from the trail head, so we were able to start out at first light.
The charcoal kilns at the parking lot looked pretty cool. They used those to produce charcoal that was later used in the smelting process for some of the old mines in the area.
I signed in at the trail head.
We were well on our way by mid-morning.
We even had to use ice axes in a few places
Unfortunately, I am an old man, so this was as close to Telescope Peak as I would get.
This was about five miles in, and I was already beat. I knew that if I attempted to summit that I wouldn't be able to make it down off the mountain, so I told my friend to go ahead and I'd wait. He said he'd be back in about 3 1/2 hours. This is him on the way out.
I spent my time listening to my ipod and doing this:
His estimate of returning in 3 1/2 hours turned out to be more than ambitious. I started to get nervous when nearly 5 hours* had passed and I still hadn't seen him coming back down the ridge. I decided that I'd wait another 45 minutes, and if I still hadn't seen him then I'd try to call for help. Fifteen minutes later I saw him coming back down the trail.
An hour or so after that he made it back to where I'd been resting up for the return trip. From that point on it was a race with the sun, but we still took some time to admire the scenery.
Here's me overlooking Badwater.
We made it down the mountain and back to the road by dark, and just had to snowshoe the last mile and a half to the molester van using our headlamps. We made it to the molester van at about 9:30 p.m., and got back home at about 1 a.m. That made getting up at 6:30 this morning to get ready to teach a little difficult, but I made it alright. I'm glad we went. It was a good trip.
*The worst part about waiting that long for him to come back wasn't that I was contemplating calling search and rescue, or that I probably have brain cancer from sitting that long in close proximity to a radio tower that was on the summit where I was waiting. No, the worst part was that he had the toilet paper with him, and once peristalsis would no longer be denied, I found an answer to a question that no man should be faced with: How many snowballs** does it take to clean ones bunghole after dropping dooce in a snowbank?