Tucki (6726') not so Sucki (Death Valley, CA)
We don't need no stinkin' 4x4 (another pre-surgery hike)

Harlan W S
March 17, 2014

Years ago, after reading an account by Rick Kent, I made up my mind that I would hike to Tucki from route 190.  I didn't have much leeway in my schedule, so my only option was a day projected to be clear and ~80F at Emigrant Campgound. There would be a slight breeze, so I opted for my hypothetical ridge route.  I would have to start early, so I could get back around noon, before it got too darn hot.

There are two bad things about this idea 1) crossing the wash is tough, especially in the dark, as there are lots of vertical-bank channels; 2) sleeping at Emigrant Campground. Emigrant is right next to rte 190, on a hill frequented by down-shifting noisy trucks hauling campers. The ground is so hard you won't drive a tent peg unless you have burly pegs like huge steel nails (and I do... but watched 3 other folks give up).  And the sites are cheek-by-jowl; I went to bed early, fell asleep by 7PM, and later heard a truck pull in and set up a tent within 10 feet of mine.  The occupant of that tent must hold the record for loud snoring. I woke up at 1:20AM, tried to catch a few more winks, but gave up.  

I hit the "trail" at 4:10AM, with a powerful headlamp and a 99% waning moon behind me.  I walked a short ways up Wildrose Road, then started cutting across; mercifully I found the Tucki Mine (Telephone Canyon) road in a bit, and took the 1st substantial ridge on the left (N) side of the canyon.

I have brain damage, so I can't balance well in the dark; I get about 2-3 hrs before vertigo sets in. The ridge was rougher than I expected in places; I'd cross a jagged section, then suddenly find a class 3 downclimb. In the dark, I often didn't see a workaround.  I kept thinking, "this sucks." Civil twighlight started about 6:40AM, none too soon, but the sun didn't really get above the mountains till about 7:20.  Then as rose glow caught ridges, it began to seem fun. I made it to the top in 4h 17m, a bit hampered by lack of vision for 2.5 hours of that time. The descent was pretty, now that I could see the terrain, with early evening primroses and phacelia.

I took 3 liters of water, cached one at  4300', and forced myself  to drink 1.5 liters.  When I returned by Emigrant wash near noon, the breezes stopped and it seemed hot; a few hours later and I would have gone through all the water.

The round trip was 17.1 miles, with 6100+ of accumulated gain. The ridge has lots of ups-and-downs.  I had three surgeries in the last 6 months, so it has been hard to keep in shape. I have another surgery shortly, so I am not in a big-risk mode right now, and was pretty happy with my time.

GPS trace. The first few miles of ridge
N of the canyon is low-angle, probably
composed of Quaternary colluvium.
Once above the colluvium, the ridge
occasionally sprouts rough territory
View back W at the moon over a
spire I'd climbed and descended.
View E around 6:40AM -- the sky
has barely lightened.
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About 7:20, the sun has yet to hit
me, but ridges to the W catch rose glow;
The moon gets low in the W sky.
Now I'm near the DPS route, and
the terrain is suddenly very mellow.
A vetch.
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Gravestones of the brave hikers
who died on this route.
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View ~N, Grapevine Mts at R in
Telescope Peak to S
I'm NOT going to follow that arrow!
Snow-covered Sierra to W.
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I tried to jump over the Sierra, but
didn't quite make it.
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View ~S - SSW, with Telescope
at L.
View back ~NNE as I descend.
View WSW.
One the way, back, I was able to
sidehill some of the rockier stuff,
since I could now see! Sierra in back.
Typical metamorhic rock.
The ridge down, to W.
View back N.
I must eventually go over the rough
brown lump.
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When I can over this in the dark,
I went down a 3rd-class crease;
actually one can walk around it on
the N (R).
View back NE
More of the way down to W.
Death Valley phacelias
View ENE up canyon.
About to hit the long colluvium
part of ridge.
View back E
More phacelia
Early-evening primrose
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More primrose
View back E. The light rains around
March 1 were enough to green the area.
Mojave asters
View down into Telephone Canyon,
as a jeep crawls along.
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I totally missed seeing this
wreck in the dark
I'm in Emigrant wash; the left-most
lump in the higher range is probably