| Boundary Peak - Nevada State Highpoint
Peak:Boundary Peak (13,143') unranked, as the actual ranked summit of the peak - Montgomery Peak - lies just over the Nevada state "boundary," in California
Distinctions (lists): Nevada State highpoint, and the highpoint of Esmeralda county
Team: Doug Hatfield & Susan Paul
Trailhead: Trail Canyon
Route: Trail Canyon Route
Distance: Approx. 8 miles RT
Elevation Gain: Approx. 4,200'
Gear: Ten essentials, plus: high-collared mountaineering boots *or* gaiters to keep the scree out of your shoes. Sunglasses with side shields to keep the scree dust out of your eyeballs. Plus a buff (neck gaiter) to keep the scree dust out of any other exposed orifices. Extra water. Pack some in your car too - the closest town is not "close." Come to think of it, make sure you have plenty of gas. I believe the gas station in Dyer (30 miles away) closes at 9 PM, and Bishop, the next "closest" town, is about 80 miles away.
August 13 2009
I woke up in a motel room in Bishop, California, the closest town with a motel, near Boundary Peak. Last night's dinner, a chocolate milk shake, still tasted pretty good in my mouth. I got up, brushed my teeth, showered - again. Sometimes it takes more than one to get all the dirt off.
I woke up Doug, he got ready, we loaded up the car and headed out of town, stopping on the way for a quick bite along US 395, the highway that bisects this berg of about 5,000 residents. I should be kind to Bishop: not only is it a serious destination for rock climbers and boulderers, but it's also the only place for gas, food, and lodging within a hundred miles, in this vast expanse of deserted, forgotten landscape.
We drove to the trailhead - the directions go pretty much like this... pick up Highway 6 in Bishop and head east for about 65 miles, then southwest on Nevada 264, to the junction of Nevada 773. About 200 yards south of the junction there's a dirt road heading west. Take this for about 15 miles to the trailhead. Detailed driving directions are available on SummitPost: http://www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock/150452/boundary-peak.html
This road is a little bumpy in places, but my Suzuki SX4 did just fine in 2WD the whole way. Be sure to roll up the windows 'cause you're going to be kicking up a lot of dust.
Doug took this picture of Boundary from the car window. It's that light colored mass on the right.
OK, so why am I out here? Because Boundary is a state highpoint! And I, well, I am a highpointer. Some people have a life goal of writing the Great American Novel, or developing the perfect mathematical formula, while others covet even loftier aspirations: discovering a cure for cancer, bringing peace to the world. Me, well, before I kick it, I just want to sit my butt up on the highpoints of each and every U.S. state.
Hmm... no scree warnings.
There's parking at the trailhead, and the trail's *right there*. In fact, in a very short time, you'll be seeing almost all of the route - at least up to the saddle, at 12,100'.
The trail's right there.
Walk the trail, it's beautiful, shady, eventually you'll be in the sun, what a beautiful day!
Eventually you'll be in the sun.
What a beautiful day!
That scree slope up ahead, the one you've heard about, it doesn't look that bad, now does it? Stop at the base, sit under that last clutch of trees and eat something - preferably something with a lot of sugar in it. You're in for the most demoralizing 1,200' of your life.
It doesn't look that bad...
This just didn't seem that bad at first. In fact, I remember thinking to myself, "wow, we're almost there - only 200 more steps to go!" I'm usually pretty good at estimating "steps to go," but this scree slope just kept going on, and up, got longer, steeper, the scree got deeper. Then it just tilted itself up on its end and tried to swallow me! Up and up it went, the saddle perched somewhere between the cosmos and infinity. I stopped counting steps at 1,000, and switched to swearing. Eventually we topped out on the saddle. Holy mother of scree - and note to self: do not ever, ever repeat this peak!
Just a scree slope.
Only 200 steps to go.
1,000 steps later...
Holy mother of scree.
We rested here a bit, had some food. Continued along the ridge to the left, where we were supposed to "skirt a large outcropping." I think Doug must have gone to Catholic school, because his idea of a "skirt" hangs somewhere along the ankles. We went right of the outcropping, dropped way too low, and ended up in steep, loose, crap that kept pouring out from under our feet like sand in an hourglass, slowly gathering scree, talus, and threatening to turn into an all-out rockslide.
From the saddle you can see the summit – so close!
When I go the wrong way and Doug follows, it's an "adventure." When Doug goes the wrong way and I follow, it's a "screw-up." So I had a quick chat with my sartorially-challenged friend about skirts: grannies, minis, micro-minis. For this trip, we wanted the "micro," we wanted to be up there where the fun stuff is. He got it, we moved, hit the ridge.
Know your skirts.
You'll get there a lot quicker.
If you stay high the summit comes quickly. We did, it did. We spent quite a bit of time up there - it was just beautiful! We could see Montgomery, a skip and a jump further on the ridge, and, way back there in the distance, California 14er White Mountain Peak.
Doug on the summit.
Me taking a picture of Doug on the summit.
Looking toward Montgomery Peak (far right).
Looking toward White Mountain (center).
Looking back down the ridge.
On the way down, we took the high trail to the left of the ridge, and were back in the saddle in no time flat.
On the way out, we noticed that the "low trail" to the summit was the obvious one from the saddle, just as you get to the first big rock outcropping. But that's definitely NOT the way to go. There's a cairn, higher up, and right in front of you. It serves a purpose here... that's the way to go. You can actually skirt the rocks on the left or right - there are nice solid trails on both sides.
Now for the scree... it really wasn't that bad, coming out, as it was deep and dense enough to allow for a standing scree glissade in most parts. What I didn't consider was all that scree dust flying into the air, getting sucked into my nose, mouth, pores... it was disgusting. By the time we got back to the car, Doug and I were both coated - inside and out - with a filthy crust. From there, we were supposed to drive 100 miles and camp at the White Mountain Peak trailhead, but it didn't take much arm-twisting for me to convince Doug that maybe a shower was a better idea.
So we drove around a lot. It takes about an hour to get off that dirt road, another hour to drive to the nearest town and realize that nothing's open, and then another hour or two to get back to Bishop and the same motel you slept in last night.
It's just not a straight shot, there are twists and turns, ups and downs. If you're lucky, there's no traffic. If you're not, you'll have some jack-ass riding your bumper the whole way, refusing to pass you even when you come to a freaking stop in the middle of the road, and wave him on. There's no place to pull off, and some of the turns are hairpins, up and over blind hills. I don't know why some people turn into such aggressive jerks when they're behind the wheel. Don't they realize there are people in those other cars? Anyway, I finally got to a place to pull off, and idiot-who-thinks-he's-in-a-video-game-and-his-SUV-is-a-weapon roared past. If we were in a movie, I'd come around the next turn and find that guy flipped on his side, bleeding to death. I don't know for sure what would happen next.
So we ended up back in Bishop. The motel had just one room left, and Doug got it. It was a "smoking room" but we didn't care; hell, we would have smoked a whole pack just to sleep there! I was limping pretty bad - still am. I think I overextended my Achilles tendon or something - either in the scree on Boundary, or on the brake in the car... not sure, exactly. Anyway, being the gentleman that he is, Doug carried all my stuff up to the room for me, let me shower first. We ate in our respective beds, chocolate shakes and some kind of hot sandwich things, in cardboard boxes. Sometime in the middle of the night I started blowing stuff out of my nose that looked a lot like that big bug that Tommy Lee Jones kills in the beginning of "Men in Black," the one that looks like a big heaving pile of blood, snot and puss. I told Doug. He was having a similar experience. Damn scree. Wear a buff; pull it up and over your mouth and nose. You don't want to be blowing aliens all night.
So, I can't really recommend this peak. It really kind of sucks. But if you're determined to get all the state highpoints, just remember to gas up, pack water, protect your orifices, fuel up at the bottom of the scree slope, and stay high on the ridge. Oh, and enjoy the summit! It really is beautiful up there.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):