By Michael Lanza
We set out at a brisk pace from the Telescope Peak Trailhead, at just over 8,100 feet in Death Valley National Park, for a good reason: It’s 29° F at just after 7 a.m. on this Saturday in the third week of May. That’s exactly 80 degrees colder than the big digital thermometer at the park’s Furnace Creek visitor center read when we arrived here four days ago. But the fifth-largest U.S. national park—and the biggest one outside Alaska—is nothing if not a place of extremes, both of temperature and physical relief. Today, besides notching the coldest temp we’ll see over four days of hiking in Death Valley, we intend to tag another of its extremes: the highest summit in Death Valley National Park, 11,049-foot Telescope Peak.