Nevada Highpoint Boundary Peak – 13,140

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RT Length: 13 miles

Elevation Gain: 5144’

After hiking Mt Whitney I drove my rental vehicle to a Subway, got lunch/dinner, and paid too much for gas

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My goal was to drive as close to the Boundary Peak trailhead as I could get in the Toyota Corolla I’d rented. I’d heard a lot of different things about the drivability of this road and since I didn’t have a 4WD or even a vehicle with much clearance (5.2 inches) I was a little worried. About 30 miles from the turnoff my cell phone lost service, and I knew I’d be on my own if I got a flat tire or damaged the vehicle on the 4WD road.

I was pleasantly surprised when I turned off US 6 and this is what I saw

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I knew the Queen Canyon Trailhead was about 6 miles from here, and it looked like I’d be taking a well maintained 2WD dirt road for at least the first few miles. The first two miles were flat and relatively easy, and with each passing mile I became more confident and a little more excited to be getting closer to the trailhead.

Around the 3rd mile the road became one lane and entered the canyon.  I was a little skeptical about the road because I couldn’t see what was ahead of me, but I figured if I couldn’t turn around at least I’d be able to back up.  Here the willows brushed both sides of the vehicle as I drove past, and the grass growing from the middle of the road made whooshing noises as it hit the underside of the vehicle.

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I was beginning to think I’d be able to drive all the way to the trailhead when around mile 4 I came to a roadblock: the road had washed out a little bit and with the low clearance vehicle it became too difficult to navigate.  I got out of the car and walked up and looked for a fancy way around that wouldn’t require bottoming out and was unsuccessful.  I was a little bummed because this section was so short and the road looked clear if I could just make it past this section about 10 yards long, but I didn’t want to get stuck and I seriously didn’t want to get stuck with paying for damages to the rental vehicle.

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So I made a 10 point turn and looked for a spot to park. I was able to find a small pullout (thankfully the vehicle was small) but unfortunately it wasn’t in the shade (there wasn’t any).

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I relaxed, ate my sandwich, and pulled out my altimeter: I’d parked at 8220’.  I did the math and figured this would add a little over 2000’ to my hike tomorrow and 2 miles each way.  I liked those numbers, but they meant I’d only be hiking Boundary Peak and not adding on Montgomery Peak (because I had a plane to catch).  I really wanted to get some sleep, but it was 4pm in Nevada in September and 95* outside.  I tried to lie down in the back of the Corolla in my sleeping bag but it was just too hot to sleep. Rolling down the windows just invited the flies in, so I tossed and turned for quite a bit.  The last thing I remember before drifting off to sleep was seeing a red Jeep race down from the road above and pass by my vehicle.  It was the only other car I saw the entire time I was there.

I woke up at 1:30am and was on the trail before 2am. I started up the 1N146 road, forgot to turn on my tracker, stopped, turned it on, and was on my way.  The road was very easy to follow to the trailhead; just stay on it and don’t take any turns.  In the dark I passed a mine (I noticed on the way back there was a light on inside and wondered at why I hadn’t seen it on my way in).

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This mine is at 9010’ and provides a great place to camp before the road becomes 4WD

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After the mine there’s still a mile left to go, and the road indeed becomes 4WD, although you could probably do it in a high-clearance vehicle that isn’t 4WD as well. The Corolla never would have made it.

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You can see how easy it is to follow the road to the trailhead

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As I was walking along the road something bobbled past me and flew like an awkward cross between a bat and a bird. It landed in the grass in the middle of the road, so as I approached it I aimed my flashlight at it to get a closer look.  It looked up at me with a round face and large, yellow eyes.  It was a fledgling burrowing owl.  “Oh! You’re a baby!” I said to the owl.  It hopped twice, jumped about 6 feet in the air, and once again awkwardly and silently glided into the brush on the other side of the road.  That had been a fun encounter!

The trail starts at the right (south side) of the saddle around 10,000’.

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As I made it here I thought to myself “I should have brought my bivy with me”. It doesn’t weigh that much and it would have been a  great idea to have hiked up here last night, slept, and started the trail from here.  Oh well, next time I’ll add it to my pack on trips like this because it only weighs 1 pound.

I followed the trail a short distance to a trail register that was lacking a lid, arriving at 3:55am. I signed the register, replaced it in the ziplock bag and was off.

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The trail begins with about 1000’ of elevation gain as it heads south and switchbacks easily up the hillside

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From the top of the hillside it’s a little disappointing as you then spend the next mile and a half losing 300’ in elevation, aiming for the saddle between Trail Canyon Saddle Peak and Boundary Peak.

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Here I started seeing horse manure, and quite a bit of it. Initially I thought how crazy someone must be to take a horse up at this elevation, but then I noticed there was a lot of it off trail as well and figured there must be wild horses in the area.

Once at the saddle there’s a cool wind shelter made out of bristlecone pine and rocks and an obvious trail that goes up the mountain.

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This is the path the trail takes. It’s obvious in the daylight, but in the dark there were a lot of social trails and I kept getting off trail, yet stayed pretty much on course

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Oh, and the top of this hill is NOT Boundary Peak.

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Around this time is when my tooth started hurting again. I took some ibuprofen and thought to myself “well, isn’t this fun?”

Once you reach the top this is the path before you

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The trail splits a lot in places, but basically follows the ridge to Boundary Peak. It doesn’t matter which path you follow, they all stay at class 2 or below.  This is the path I took

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The last little bit to the summit has larger rocks but still stays at class 2

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I summited at 6:45am, and the sun still hadn’t risen. My glasses are on to hide the crows feet…

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Boundary Peak Summit:

It was very cold at the summit, and since I still didn’t have my new camera I had to keep taking off my gloves to get pictures on my iPhone: my hands were freezing!  I took a few pictures and (again) actually signed the summit register.   I figured I should eat something so I got out some dried mangoes, took one bite and felt the most intense dental pain I’ve ever felt in my life!  Oh no!  This was NOT good!  Tears came to my eyes and I decided right then and there I was going to see a dentist as soon as I got home.

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I sat here for a minute and contemplated watching the sunrise, but it was just too cold (and I figured I’d have a great view of it as I hiked back down). The moon was full and extremely bright, so I got a shadowselfie in the moon-glow

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I also took some pictures of Montgomery Peak and the summit I was currently on (I lightened them up a bit so you can see detail)

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I headed back down, and within about 10 minutes there was enough light to see the path ahead of me. It was so nice to be able to see an actual trail instead of guess where it was in the dark!

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I sneezed and my teeth bumped together in the process. The pain was so intense I stood there for 3 full minutes waiting for it to subside.  The sun finally rose at 7:35am (which I thought was late, but maybe that’s normal for Nevada?)

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I followed the trail back down the same way I came up

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Back down to the saddle and then up to regain those 300’ I’d lost

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Regaining the elevation actually wasn’t that bad, but I was also lucky the sun had gone behind the clouds and it wasn’t that warm out. It felt like I was hiking in the shade, and at this point my dental pain was more of an annoying dull ache and I was beginning to think the pain was directly related to elevation.

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I came across a few deer near the trail, and as I rounded the last bit of hillside I saw a small herd of horses, grazing in a semi-circle on the hill.

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Boundary Peak Horses:

I made noise but they didn’t really seem to care I was there. Once again I wished I had my good camera with me and not just my cell phone:  these could have been awesome pictures!

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From here it was all downhill back to the trailhead

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I signed out of the register and headed back down the road to my vehicle.

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I made it back to the car at 9am, making this a 13 mile hike with 5144’ in elevation gain in 7 hours 15 minutes.

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Once back at the car I cleaned up and got ready to head out, saying a silent prayer I didn’t do any permanent damage to the vehicle in the next 4 miles. I knew I’d be ok as long as I just drove slow, and since I hadn’t seen any vehicles since that Jeep last night I wasn’t too worried about the need to pass another car in the tight spots.  In the daylight I saw an abandoned house

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And a really neat view of Boundary Peak

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I made it back to US 6 without incident, but the vehicle was quite dirty and had pinstripes from the willows. It was a 5 hour drive from here back to Las Vegas.  I spent it with the radio turned up to avoid the constant “not in your lane beeping”.  Once in Vegas I looked for a car wash to try and buff out he streaks.  It was surprisingly difficult to find one that was open and operating (I found a bunch of closed or non operational car washes however).

After driving around for half an hour I was finally able to find a car wash, paid the $7 and was extremely happy with how everything turned out: no scratches left on the rental car!  Woot!  Now it was off to return the car (I didn’t have any issues) and to get to the airport early, hopefully to change my flight to an earlier one so I could hike again tomorrow.

My flight didn’t leave until 9pm and I was at the airport by 3pm. I went to the desk to try and get an earlier flight but even on standby they wanted more than double what I’d paid for both tickets combined to take an earlier flight home.  I was not ok with this, so I decided to take a shower and eat instead (yes, the Las Vegas airport has showers, if you know where to look).

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I spent the next few hours relaxing before my flight home, listening to others talk about what they’d done during their Bachelor/Bachelorette parties that weekend. I was a little upset I’d get back to late to hike the next day, but all in all considered my birthday weekend a win!

Author: Laura M Clark

Mom, Solo Colorado 14er Finisher, Outdoor Enthusiast, Traveler, and Girl Scout Leader with an MBA in International Business and Marketing. I value adventure, growth, courage, wisdom, integrity, accountability, and family. I enjoy yoga, wine, whiskey, traveling, reading, and the outdoors. I strive to be the person who inspires and motivates myself and others to succeed.

One thought on “Nevada Highpoint Boundary Peak – 13,140”

  1. I am awed at Your magic marker trails and trying to visualize the distance and difficulty wiyh witch You have to overcome to complete Your mountaineering summits. There is so much to say of Your solo hiking and yet the words fail me in expressing the love You have for all You do. Thank You LAURA.

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