Telescope Peak — Page 5

Telescope Peak: North Ridge

Along the Ridge

The sky darkens as we begin hiking the long, flat stretch across Telescope Peak's north ridge. I eye the clouds warily, not willing to get caught on this exposed ridge if a storm develops.

Rain streaks appear about Telescope Peak's summit. I suggest a lunch break, wanting to stop now and assess the weather before we're fully committed to the summit—and the ridge. As we pull out our snacks, I feel a cool mist brushing against my arms, and then it's raining. I move my camera toward the more-protected interior of my backpack.

Trevor and Pine Wildflowers Badwater

The rain is brief and light, but it doesn't inspire much confidence in the weather. Still, our lunch break does its job, giving us time to see that the squalls are short-lived.

A check of the clock suggests we're seeing about as much buildup as the day is going to produce—hopefully. We decide to press on.

I realize, as we progress farther along the ridge, that Telescope Peak Trail is not only well-maintained, it is also well designed. The trail strategically avoids the apex of the ridge, instead traversing beneath it, providing just enough distance to give some protection in the event of a storm.

That does help ease my worries about the weather. Also—and more importantly—I see the sky to the southwest clearing, suggesting we're going to get a nice window of clearing in the next hour or so.

So: I keep my fingers crossed and hope the sky behaves itself.

Here and there along the ridge, sunlight emerges intermittently through the clouds, igniting the landscape and causing the abundant wildflowers to pop against their green backdrops. I'm guessing Telescope Peak isn't normally so verdant. These rich colors are no doubt the happy product of the previous winter's heavy snows, sending normally reticent flowers into full bloom.

And those same clouds that worry the sky create striking shadows across Death Valley to our east. The valley floor is an impressionist's canvas today, speckled with contrasting colors of cool and warm that are ever-shifting in the afternoon light. Some two vertical miles above, we float along as if on a ship of green in the midst of a sea of vast, unending desert.

next: Highs and Lows

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

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