This is one tough hike! And I don't believe for a minute that
it's only 7.4 miles...but first things first. Boundary Peak
butts right up to the California border. There are no towns
of any size nearby. We approached from the West, via Mono Lake.
I suppose the nearest large town would have to be Reno.
This was a special trip for me since I had my young'uns along, Ryan and
Megan, who were ages 15 and 12 respectively at the time. We were on a
week long tour of the Eastern Sierra, White Mountains, and Mammoth regions
of neighboring California. We stopped at the Inyo National Forest office
in Bishop, California and obtained information about this hike. They did
not recommend using the road described in the Holmes book. I was glad
to take their advice since I was driving a rental car. We took the longer
route they recommended and still had a few tense moments on the very rough
We arrived at the camp described in the Holmes book in Trail Canyon
just as the sun was setting. One other highpointer was there, just turning
in for the night. I wish I could remember his name, but it has escaped me.
Our highpointer friend arose and hit the trail the next day about an hour
before us. The only evidence we saw of him all day was his name in the
register at the top as he apparently returned via an alternate route while
we did an out-and-back hike.
The trail begins at a parking area about a tenth of a mile up the road
from the camping spot. At first the trail is fairly direct and well
trampled but it soon degenerates to a zig-zag route through desert scrub
following cow or horse paths. My guess is that the published mileage
for this hike was obtained from a topo map. But
you can't maintain any kind of a direct line as you wind around through
the endless maze so you end up walking a mile and a half for every mile
you progress. Incidently, don't forget to wear long pants!
The grade becomes steeper as you climb up to the saddle at the head of
Trail Canyon. As you approach the saddle you rise above all vegetative
cover. This a mixed blessing. For one thing there is no more opportunity
for shade. On the other hand, you don't have to contend with that
confounded desert scrub.
The next section is the toughest of all. You climb up a steep slope from
the saddle to a preliminary peak. This slope is very crumbly and unstable
and there is no definite trail. At times it is like walking up a pile of
loose gravel. Take two steps, slide back one, take two steps, slide
back one...and so on. Other times it is like trying to walk up a
sidewalk in San Francisco while someome pours marbles down it from the top.
At long last you reach firm footing at a small saddle to the right
of the preliminary peak. At this point you have your first really good
view of the summit of Boundary Peak. There is a well defined trail that
contours from here over to another small saddle between Boundary and
the preliminary peak.
From there it gets steeper yet, but at least now it is on relatively
stable footing as you scramble up and up over large boulders. Megan
experienced a burst of energy when the summit came into view. She
topped out about a half mile ahead of Ryan and I, and taunted us from
the top with her impromtu singing, "I'm on top of Nevada and you're not".
There was one small patch of snow left near the summit.
The kids got a big kick out of reading the entries in the register we
found at the top. Many of the writers seemed to be serious highpointers.
While day-dreaming about this trip in the comfort of my living room, I
had considered continuing on to neighboring Montgomery Peak which is
slightly higher in elevation and just across the California State line.
By now I had lost all desire to do that. Besides I would have had
a full-scale mutiny on my hands.
We returned by what looked to be the easiest route, the way we had
come. Altogether this hike took us about 9 hours -- the longest 7.4 mile
hike I've ever been on! If you attempt it, keep in mind it is a
desert hike. Take sun protection and plenty of water.