Boundary Peak (13140')
Date: 25 August 2017
Duration: 1 day
Distance: 14 miles round trip (Started 1.5 miles from the old mine, ~2+miles from Kennedy flats)
Actual trailhead: Kennedy Flats
Our trailhead: Queen Canyon Road off U.S. Highway 6 just east of the California - Nevada border. About 1.5 miles from queen mine at 9200 feet.
Elevation gain: ~5500 feet from where we started (~4500 feet from Kennedy flats trailhead)
Highest peak in Nevada.
This is a very secluded peak and you may be the only person on this mountain on the day of your hike
No water sources anywhere along the approach road or at Kennedy flats
Driving upto Kennedy flats (trailhead) needs a very good 4WD vehicle with a competent driver behind the wheels. The road is pretty much a trail and not really a road with large boulders
Patchy cell reception all along the trail.
Queen mine is a good point to camp the previous night before starting the arduous climb if you don’t plan on driving up to Kennedy flats (although getting here is tricky in itself)
This write up is going to be a memory challenge for me having done this hike almost 3 months earlier, especially detailing the hike. Since I love challenges lets begin.
Boundary peak standing tall at ~13140’ is the highest peak in the state of Nevada. It lies in the white mountains range bordering the two states - California & Nevada. A very dicy ridge connects Boundary peak to another adjacent peak named “Montgomery peak” summiting at ~13440’, 300 feet higher that Boundary. Boundary sees most visitors due to its designation as the high-point of Nevada although the high-point of this range is Montgomery peak which proudly took to being a 13’er of California giving up on Boundary peak’s title. Having said that, most visitors still amounts to a very tiny climber/hiker population. It wouldn’t be surprising to have this mountain to yourself on a weekday and even some weekends.
This peak is a favourite to Anshuman as it offers great views, provides a good challenge in terms of distance and elevation gain while still remaining rather hidden from the average hiker. We decided to hike Boundary Peak about a day in advance. Our initial plan was to hike Mt. Shasta and Kaushik was flying into San Jose just for the hike. The devastating forest and bush fires this year had made the entire Sierra Nevada ranges smokey including Mt. Shasta. We had to switch plans about two days prior to our trip. Mt. Dana did not cut it either due to the smoke that filled Yosemite Valley (another forest fire). Cancelling the hike would mean that Kaushik’s trip to the bay area wouldn’t bear fruit. Since we were already mentally prepared for Mt. Shasta, we decided to go ahead and give Boundary peak a try.
Getting to Boundary peak requires you to take Hwy 264 if coming from the east, and hwy 6 if coming from the west (CA). The road from the west is supposed to be pretty rough. We drove through Yosemite NP Hwy 140 from the west to Lee Vining and then into Nevada. It was a long 8hr drive and we got to our designated trailhead (to a point on the fire road leading to queens mine till which Anshuman was confident to drive) by 3:45am. Driving east on Hwy 6, you will need to make a right onto the dirt road as soon as you see a large water tank on the left. It’s easy to miss so make sure to look for it especially if you arrive pre-dawn.
By 4:10am we were on our way towards Kennedy flats. The trail climbs elevation gradually all the way to the actual trailhead at 9850’. Sunrise was beautiful, lighting up the trail we had already hiked and also the vast mountain landscape. It was a treat to just hear the sound of the wind and to watch the sun rising from behind the mountains. At 6:50am we started from the actual Boundary peak trailhead. This trailhead at Kennedy flats is marked by a hiker register placed within a box. The trail from here was above 10k feet and was going to climb ~3200 feet in ~5miles. An hr into the hike from here ~11000’, the altitude hit me and I decided to head back down to Kennedy flats leaving Anshuman & Kaushik to attempt the summit. Gaining a lot of altitude very quickly from sea level did not go well with me. By 7:50am I was on my way back to Kennedy flats.
The only other people on this mountain were two folks who had driven up to Kennedy flats in their 4x4 SUV and a solo hiker. I was very lucky to have them offer their camping chair to sit near their car and wait for my friends. I felt better just sitting around at 9850 feet and chilling out for an hr or so. I knew that it would be post 5-6pm by the time my friends got back down and it was only 9:30am. After much contemplation I decided to head back up again until I meet them on their way down or I reach the summit (which is much less likely given they now had a head start of > 3hrs). I started my hike up again at 10:15am. By 11:00am I was past 11000 feet where I turned around and was feeling great. I hiked up faster than my usual pace without any issues. As soon as you climb up the first section of the trail you reach a flat section of the trail that meanders around the mountain ridge making its way towards the mountain that actually houses Boundary peak. The Boundary peak couloir was an amazing sight to behold.
The trail through the flat section isn’t obvious and one needs to make sure to follow painted arrows and stone stacked upon each other to stay on it. At 12:12pm I got to the base of the 1st false summit climb. The climb from here is about 1500 - 2000 feet to the summit and is an arduous one involving boulder hopping and route finding. It gets very confusing and one needs to keep making progress towards general direction of the summit/peak. By 1:45pm I saw Anshuman up the ridge which would take him about 15 mins of descent to reach me (~45mins for me to get to him). Having spotted him I decided to stop & wait. At 2:40pm (after almost an hr of sitting) Kaushik also caught up with us. Anshuman and Kaushik had made it to the summit. It was Kaushik’s first mountaineering expedition/experience and was great to see him able to achieve the summit. As always, the down climb to the car was a long and tiring one. The stretch from kennedy flats to the car was especially unrelentingly long. The sun was slowly moving down behind the mountains by the time we got to the car (~5:40pm).