We were hanging out by the fire with several of Skye's Shakespeare camp-mates and their parents Friday day, even though we knew we had a two hour drive ahead of to put us hopefully at the trail-head to Nevada's High Point, Boundary Peak.
We had read that the road was best suited for high-clearance 4WD vehicles. I've heard that before and the little RAV did just fine.
Cut to: Skye screaming, "Dad stop!!! Let Me Out!!!" "Stop Panicking!!! I can't stop! There's no where to turn around. I can't back up. WE HAVE TO KEEP GOING!!!!!
We didn't quite make it all the way up to the trail-head but we got pretty close.
We slept, sort of in the car that night with the trail-head merely .6 miles up the road. The moon was full that night, or close to it and shone like a brilliant search light directly into the car making it next to impossible to sleep. That and my head full of concern for the next day's hike and wondering whether we would be able to make it back down that crazy road without bottoming out or cracking the axle or something or the sorts.
from the Summit-Post web-site, "A 4-wheel drive is not required, but a high clearance vehicle is recommended, especially for the last mile or so. There are also a couple of small streams/washes to be crossed."
Boundary Peak is the highest point in Nevada at 13,147 feet (4,007 m). It is at the Northern end of the White Mountains and would not be climbed much except for the fact it is the highest point in Nevada, although it is not the highest peak in the area. It is part of a twin peak with Montgomery Peak. Montgomery Peak is 200 feet higher but is located in California. Boundary Peak derives its name from the proximity to the boundary between the two states that runs down the saddle between the two peaks and was likely named by surveyors who were working in the West in the mid 1800s. The actual boundary between the two states was finally legally settled in 1980. The controversy stemmed from a survey done in 1873 by Alexey VonSchmidt. His survey placed placed the border from Lake Tahoe to the Colorado River askew with that established by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey between 1893 and 1899, putting Boundary Peak in California. If the USGS had not changed the border, Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park, would be Nevada's high point.
After continuing on the access road for around .6 miles, a little less because we took a shortcut, we got to the trail-head. The switch-backs up weren't too bad, but they were full of scree and gravel and I had a feeling the decent at the end of day of serious hiking could be less than ideal.
Once we got up and things leveled out we had a nice stretch of fairly level trail that took us across a beautiful landscape full of sage and wildflowers. And landed us at the base of what we thought was Boundary Peak.
We took a little break there and looked up on the hillside to see a herd of wild horses. Pretty Cool.
Our first serious up a mountain of scree and switchback was pretty brutal and took around an hour and a half. We got to our first false summit and had our first view of the real Boundary Peak. At the nearby saddle, with bit of mountain that was a few hundred feet higher to one side and then the peak that looked to be another hour to two hours of scree-scrambling and boulder hoping, we ran into a few teen-agers that informed us that the lower mound was actually Boundary Peak and the monster that loomed over us was actually Montgomery Peak.
Trail Magic or Black Magic
Now I had read that the two peaks were very close and that Montgomery Peak was taller but on the California side, but I was a bit skeptical. Skye said that what the youngsters were saying matched the description of the trail with that of a hiker she had a conversation with the day before. We followed the teens up the hill. While they were taking selfies, I was looking around for a marker or anything that could confirm that the lump of boulders were on was in fact Boundary Peak.
I found nothing. There was no internet reception up there but I had enough of a signal to give Cindy a call and have here do some research on the matter. Around 45 minutes later, we were able to ascertain that we were, in fact, not at the high-point at all and that we had another couple of hours until we got to the actual peak.
We probably lost around an hour and a half on that wild goose chase, not to mention the effort and energy.
Once we were back on the trail, it went practically vertical pretty quickly.
OK not vertical, but pretty dang steep and up that horrible gravely shale mixture known as scree. The trail wasn't marked, making it difficult and at times impossible to stay on the actual trail. In fact there were dozens of times where there were more than two options of how to continue. Hard to say how many times we choice the wrong one.
I did step on a large rock that slid from under me and caused a nice little rock-slide that missed Skye by only a couple of feet.
We eventually made it to the summit.
Hours later than I had hoped. But we made it nonetheless.
Boundary Peak was the third high-point we summited this trip, all over 13,000 feet. It is our 25th high-point getting us half-way through our goal of getting to the highest point of each and every of the 50 states. I am quite proud of Skye for doing it and being with me on this crazy Father-Daughter journey. I also like that the half-way point peak happened to be in my birth-state of Nevada.
We had a quick lunch, signed in at the register and took a bunch of pictures and then had to get moving.
It was already 3 o'clock and we had lots of miles between us and the car. And I didn't want to make that drive in the dark again.
We went as fast as was safe. I almost fell several of times, catching myself one time where I definitely jacked-up my shoulder a bit and tweaked my back several times. Skye took a few spills but nothing too serious.
Finally we made it back to the car and although rather sketchy at times and bottoming out more than once we finally made it back to the highway. Another hour or so and we were finally back to our camp-site, feeling dirty and exhausted but quite accomplished.
We won't be trying for another high-point until or drive back out to Yellowstone and neither Iowa or either of the Dakotas are at any sort of elevation.