Getting To the Start Of The RouteIf driving in from the east via I-15
, take North State Highway (SR 127) by exiting Kelbaker Road through the town of Baker. Drive 47 miles before reaching the small desert town of Shoshone (gas and last minute amenities....also a fun little saloon/cafe called the 'Crowbar Cafe'). About 1/2 mile east of the town is the interestion of SR 127 and SR 178. Turn west (left) onto SR 178 and follow it for 26 miles to Ashford Junction. Once at Ashford Junction, turn left onto Westside Road (dirt) and follow it for 25 miles. Be on the look out for the sign for Shorty's Well (posted on the right side of the road, a mile after the marker for Shorty's Grave). Directly across for Shorty's Well is the road for Hanaupah Canyon (4x4 recommended, if using it). Vehicles can be parked at the trailhead for Shorty's Well (elevation -262 ft). This parking area is set 100 yards off of Westside Road.
If driving in from the west via the town of Ridgecrest (NAWS China Lake)
, take SR 178 out of Ridgecrest through the town of Trona. Continue on SR 178 until SR 190 is reached. Turn onto SR 190 and follow it to Furnace Creek. Pass Furnace Creek and continue on till Badwater Road is reached, turn right onto Badwater Road. Continue onto Badwater Road till Westside Road is reached. Turn right onto Westside Road (dirt) and follow it to the dirt intersection of Shorty's Well and the 4x4 road of Hanaupah Canyon Road. Vehicles can be parked at the trailhead for Shorty's Well (elevation -262 ft). This parking area is set 100 yards off of Westside Road.
Start by hiking up the Hanaupah Canyon Road (a dirt 4x4 road). The road heads up to the mouth of the canyon, which is approximately 5 miles from the Westside Road/Shorty's Well intersection. Continue following this 4x4 road into a wash as it leads into the narrowing canyon. The 4x4 "road/trail" then heads south to the South Fork of Hanaupah Canyon, which eventually ends at a "dogleg" turn west up into the South Fork proper. As one heads west up the canyon fork, be on the look out for a faint use trail, which typically stays on the southern side of the canyon. About 10.5 miles in from the trailhead, Hanaupah Springs is encountered. This spring runs throughout the year, even in the height of summer and is pretty much the only water source before heading up to the ridgeline above to Telescope Peak. Be sure to take advantage of it!!
Shortly after the spring, one can visit a mine constructed by Alexander Zacheriah "Shorty" Borden, a prominant figure of Death Valley in the 1930's. On the southern side of the canyon is a small mine road that leads up to the mine entrance (200 yards past the spring). Use caution when checking it out...it's the home of yellowjacket bees near the entrance! If you choose not to check it out, cross to the northern side of the spring and hike to a spur that comes down off of the West/East ridge above to the north. A faint use trail can be found by locating a few ducks near it's base. Climb this spur to the west/east ridgeline above (a small section of loose Class 2 terrain is encountered low on the spur....use caution, especially if you're carrying heavier loads. Trekking poles are definitely helpful). Once at the top of the spur and the ridgeline proper, there are good bivy spots on top (roughly 11.5 miles from the trailhead at this point)
From the west/east ridgeline, follow this ridge to the west, heading directly for the north/south ridgeline that leads to Telescope Peak, taking advantage of terrain weaknesses and the occasion show of a faint use trail. The last section of the west/east ridgeline follows up a flat slope that is partly forested by pinion and juniper trees. Continue up this slope until one intersects the trail coming in from Mahogany Flat trailhead. Take the trail south on the ridgeline until the summit is reached. The true summit is 500 yards south of a rocky top which seems to appear as the summit. From the trailhead of Shorty's Well to the summit is 15.6 miles. To return, reverse the route description.
Needs and Amenities
-Ample water containers and filtration system
-Trekking poles are recommended
-If trekking in the summer, sunscreen, sunglasses and ideal technical clothes (especially head gear) is a must!
-If trekking in winter conditions, be prepared to bring ice axe and crampons for the terrain above as the eastern slopes can get icy once the sun sets (typically around 4PM) or snow is encountered.
Several individual have attempted this route in a single day, some were successful yet several were not. This route is not for the novice backcountry traveller and requires good physical conditioning and ample preparation. Although the route appears to be straight forward, the envoirment is harsh and conditions can radically change (ie flash floods, temperature change once the sun sets, terrain etc). This is also home to many tough desert denizens...rattlesnakes, tarantulas, mountain lions. You are in their territory, use caution when approaching any blind section of the route. Lastly, leave a note of your itinarary at your parked vehicle. Even "Shorty" fell prey to the enviornment of Death Valley....more than once!