We did it! This was my Father’s Day present from my son, Andy. He rented an SUV, filled it with camping gear and food, and on Friday morning (18 June) we headed toward the Panamint Mountains, a range between the Sierras and Death Vally. We drove down through the Panamint Valley and up into the mountains; by 3:30 p.m. we were setting up our base camp at about 8,200 ft.
We had breakfast in camp Saturday morning (Andy cooked). At 8:00 a.m. we left our camp site and began our climb/hike to the summit of Telescope peak (11,049 ft.), a venture of 14 miles. I tweaked my left knee in snow at about 9,900 ft. – within two minutes of the photo being taken. After coming so far I was determined to reach the summit, even if I had to crawl. The instant it happened I knew it would be slow going because the pain was instantaneous. The pain was like an electric shock every time I took a step going down-slope; but tolerable going up-slope. This slowed our pace considerably from that before the accident. We made it to the top 2 1/2 hrs. later – arriving at 3:00 p.m. God’s handiwork could be seen in all directions, what he set in motion to bring about what we were now viewing, not something that was caused by a force or forces of unknown origin. We rested and took photos for about 15 minutes, in all directions. Andy, being the doc/scout master he is, had a few medical supplies in his backpack. He bandaged my knee, and we started down at 3:30. At 8:30 we reached about 9,000 ft., when the lights went out (sun dropped below the Sierras to our west) and even ambient light was gone. We had a bright half-moon that cast eerie shadows about us, but it wasn’t bright enough to see the trail. I should point out that without the accident we would have been back at our tent by 7:00 or 8:00 at the latest. We had to use LED head lights and a small, but extremely bright LED hand-held light to navigate the rest of the way down. We calculated that we were already about an hour into the 2 mile segment that would end at the trail head, almost all of it down-slope. This segment would normally take about 1 1/2 hrs. We reached the trail head at 11:30 p.m. (about 4 hrs.). Andy had to go ahead of me about 50 ft., stop, turn around and light the trail for me. Then, he would go another 50 ft., and so-on all the way down to the trail head. For most of those 2 miles and at toward the end I could barely lift either foot more than about 4 to 6 inches and was barely shuffling along, having to go over large rocks in the trail by side-stepping. By this time my right knee was hurting, having to compensate for the left. For most of this segment Andy was like a cheerleader, he kept saying, “Im sure we’re almost there,” “…probably just around the next bend in the trail;” and the last, my favorite “I think I can hear voices,” to which I said “oh, great, this is all we need!” We signed in at the trail head at 11:30 p.m. and by mid-night were in our sleeping bags. God’s presence was obvious and dully noted throughout this epic.
We arose a little after 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, broke camp and was on our way down by 8:00. We arrived home at 1245.
That was a weekend that I’ll not soon forget.
About a week after we returned, I was recounting the trip to a friend and while doing that the thought occurred to me that the Lord interacts with each of as as Andy did with me in lighting the trail. When life gets rough, the Lord goes ahead of us and lights our way. You don’t see Him, but you see the light and you have comfort, although in pain, in knowing He’s there and is providing a way for you.
Incidentally, in the first photo, those are not ski poles and in the last two photos, Death Vally’s floor (11,300 ft. below) can be seen behind us.
Don’t forget to send in photos of your Summer Road Trip journeys (holding a copy of the Highlights) to Jon Batarse, email@example.com.