Boundary, located on the Nevada-California border, is Nevada's highest peak at over 13,000 feet. After summiting Mount Wheeler, the second highest peak, it has been calling my husband and me to climb to its tip. Since we exercise daily including jogging several miles, eating well, and maintaining a good weight, we had prepared in advance for this challenge. We also possess possession minds of determination and curiosity, both essential when planning such an excursion. We love to camp so have good gear at the ready, and being retired, we have the time for adventure.
We headed southwest of our home driving about 300 miles to the base of Boundary at Trail Creek in Esmeralda County. The last 15 miles are dirt that begins by winding through beautiful, cabin-like though large, homes. This seems odd since we are miles from any town. Yes, the view is fantastic, but convenience is not included in this package. Next we drive along the creek through sagebrush, willows, and later quaking aspen and pinion pines. A large pond and rustic campsites appeared, rustic depicting pull-offs with occasional rock-lined fire pits. We drve a little further to the trailhead and since we were the lone hikers, we camped there for the night to be ready for an early morning launch. The hiking book details this as "strenuous", 8-miles round-trip. I found it to be average at the outside and then the final two miles exhausting and three ticks beyond strenuous and my pedometer said 9.5 miles when we finished – just so you know.
The trailhead begins with a warning about black bears and that seems surprising for this rough area but it added a wary eye to our climb. The trail follows the stream requiring only one small leaping crossing for about two-and-a-half miles with sagebrush, willows, quakies, and terrible pinions. I was glad to have sturdy hiking boots, heavy socks, and long pants to protect my feet and legs as we strolled through this lovely and silent paradise with just a few bird tweets along the route. We also wore multiple layers as the start of the hike was 80 * at 6:30 am and the end would be far cooler and I predicted very windy. My eyes glanced upward toward the saddles trying to determine which one would be our ascent and final steps to the top. Just when I settled on the one straight ahead the trail jogged left and a rocky trail led forward. It is well marked which results stress but there were few boot marks to indicate other travelers. Its isolation keeps Boundary fairly private.
After about a half mile of "gentle" rocks, the trail turns right and the ultimate saddle and peak goal looms ahead. The trail becomes much steeper and many water and snack breaks are necessary as well as leg and heart rest. We transported two gallons of water, a sound recommendation for a hearty hike in hot weather. It is a wild scramble but the top consistently beckons, appearing closer with each step and seeming further away at each rest. When we hit snow we knew we were near our goal and our last steps led us to the top of the saddle with tremendous views of the Sierras far to the west and the ranges of Nevada far to the east. The climb had taken us three and a half hours.
The wind hinded at this point and another coat and snug tie-down hood bundled me up. Drifted snow marked the way to the top, another 1,000 feet away. The siren sounded but wisdom preceded the potential slip-sliding scale. Plus our dog, a stout, strong German shorthair signaled that he had had enough. About that time our sunny day transformed into storm clouds and so we decided it safer to head back to camp. I was sad not to stand on the tippy-top, but decided that 12,069 'would have to serve as enough.
Ascending is always easier than descending for me, not the tiredness part, but the constant caution and muscle tightening needed to prevent a fall and the toe curling I do during downward slides. The beginning of the way down is made up of granite stones and sand so each step also possessed slipping making the trip faster. At a rest stop I peered upward again so find the peak enveloped in black clouds and felt the harsh wind lifting up from the valley below, racing toward the top. Within 90 minutes we were back to the creek and another hour had us at the pickup, exhausted but exhilarated. We rustled up cheese, crackers, peanut butter and jelly, bread and more water for our post-hike lunch. The hike proved to be a great accomplishment and despite during the last steps of the step climbs upward a flash of "Crazy!" had dashed through my mind, as we drove back to Highway 6 we were already planning out next outing.