The Route/Conditions: As I mentioned above, I chose Rogers Peak for my snow survey of Telescope because it was an “easy” way to get the information. While access to Rogers Peak is through a fire road, it is worth noting that in winter, nothing is “easy” as it seems. Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention that Rogers Peak is a 9,994 foot mountain, and like most things in life, “easy” is a subjective term that can mean many things to many people. Finally, for people that are not familiar with the area, Rogers Peak is one of three mountains in the Panamint Range of Death Valley that are generally climbed together – a sort of “three peaks in one day” challenge. The other two are, respectively Telescope Peak (the highest point in Death Valley at 11,043 feet), and Bennett Peak (9,980 feet). While Rogers can be climbed as part of the three Panamint Peak trifecta from the main Telescope Peak trail, it can also be climbed separately as a stand-alone mountain via the fire access road.
The tough thing about exploring is that for every amazing thing you find, like a Jamul Kiln, sometimes you find things that are just there. They're not bad, they're not good, they're just there. Take for example the Cottonwood Kilns. They are part of California's gold rush history, and were constructed in 1873 to provide charcoal for the smelters at the nearby Cerro Gordo Mine.
Back in the near-distant past, after dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I decided that I wanted to climb Telescope Peak. At that point, I didn’t know much about Death Valley other than what I had read and researched. I know that this was truly a long time ago, perhaps during part of the dark ages, because I had gleaned most of my information from actual books and paper maps. I left after work for the desert, and by the time I reached Emigrant Canyon Road within the park, it was very late. As my car glided over the curvy pavement like a giant bat, my eyes drooped slightly. Suddenly, my high beams caught a glimpse of something grey, brown and large on the road. Automatically, my foot hit the brake before I could say “Blue Moon”. My SUV skidded on its antilock brakes for a split-second before coming to rest.