Boundary Peak • Highpoint: State of Nevada
• Highpoint: Esmeralda County
• White Mountains


A shot of the peak
from the highway


Boundary Peak from Trail Camp


The peak, next morning


Looking back east
from the main high saddle


I make my way up the
sketchy back-side trail


Me on top (left), Steve on right

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Summitpost

Date: August 12, 1995 • Elevation: 13,143 feet • Prominence: 253 feet • Distance: 8 miles • Time: 9 hours • Gain: 4,000 feet • Conditions: Bright blue skies • Teammates: Kelly M., Steve

Boundary Peak is the highest point in Nevada, but is merely a bump on a ridge with just 253 feet of prominence. It lies below Montgomery Peak, which lies about a mile away, inside California. The fortuitous placement of the state line puts Boundary Peak barely inside Nevada and suddenly elevates a non-descript point into a major hiking objective.

I was here because I had won $400 playing the slots at a local Indian casino near Phoenix. That payday funded two highpoint trips, Mount Elbert in Colorado last weekend, and now Boundary Peak. For this hike, I would be joined by my college friend Kelly, who had hiked with me on Mount Whitney in 1992. She drove from California and met me at the airport in Las Vegas.

We drove northbound on US-95 into Esmeralda County, turning onto lesser highways through the town of Dyer, east of the peak. We drove up the gravel road into Trail Canyon and found a place to camp for the night. Our neighbor was a guy named Steve, who was also planning to hike the peak the next day too. We agreed to team up as a trio. We had a full moon for the night, and we slept reasonably well.

We were up early the next morning. Steve squeezed in with us into our vehicle (my brother's truck that we borrowed for this weekend). Steve suggested a turn at a junction for a different starting point. I went with his suggestion, but didn't like the road. It was too narrow and exposed and not in the direction we wanted. I somehow made a 20-point U-turn and got the vehicle pointed downward. We returned the way we came, then drove to the regular trailhead. This cost us about 30 minutes.

The route at first is the continuation of the road, which degenerates into a trail, which soon degenerates into nothing. Fortunately, the terrain here is waist-high sage brush and few trees, so that navigation was easy. We would follow game paths through the creek within the drainage, or gain onto the banks and wend through whatever openings we could find in the sage. Generally, Kelly and I stayed high, Steve stayed near the creek.

At one point, Kelly and I joined Steve in the creek, but the brush became thick. As we were getting back onto the sage slopes, I stepped into quicksand! I had never stepped into quicksand before, and have not since. I never thought I would encounter quicksand in the middle-of-nowhere, Nevada.

It was definitely quicksand. It looked like muddy ground with low grass, but as soon as I stepped onto it, my foot went into the goo up to my knee, and it had the consistency of wet cement. Fortunately, I still had my other foot on solid ground. There was brush nearby I could grab, and Kelly also gave me a hand. I slowly pulled out my foot, which wasn't easy. The stuff really does want to suck you in, like the books and television shows say. My whole lower leg was encased in black mud, and my shoe was caked. But I was safely extracted. What a way to start the hike!

After that, the three of us left the creek bottom and stayed up on the slopes, picking our way through the sage. In time, we had arrived to the Trail Canyon Saddle, the main saddle north of Boundary Peak. This was about two miles from the start. Counting my time in the quicksand, it had taken us 90 minutes to get here. There were wild horses on the hillsides above us, and the weather was marvelous.

From this saddle, we found a use trail heading south uphill. The brush here was light and quickly gave way to slopes of talus and scree, with little pockets of grass and wildflowers. The use trail was easy to follow but it was steep, loose and narrow. We aimed for a notch off in the distance. This stretch was tedious due to the constant slipping and the sloppy footing. But we arrived to this notch soon enough, and took a break. From here we could now see Boundary Peak.

The route from here looked straightforward. The thin trail angled up to a high saddle below Boundary Peak, then from there it looked like rock-hopping to the summit. The three of us strung out on this stretch. Steve had forged on ahead while Kelly and I inadvertantly worked our way across the talus rather than up, but we were closer than we thought. Kelly had scampered up about 20 feet ahead of me and reported the top was in view. And after a few minutes, we came walking up, Steve already there enjoying the sights.

We spent about 20 minutes on top of Nevada, enjoying the views. The day was lovely all around. Notably, we spotted a much higher peak (Montgomery) with heinous rock traverses and ridges, but luckily for us wimps, this was inside California. We had reached our objective and we all felt proud of ourselves. The fun was only beginning.

We hiked down to the high saddle, me in front, Kelly and Steve behind. When we got to the saddle, I started down that thin trail back to the notch. About halfway down, I stopped to look back but did not see them. Steve had mentioned going down the east slopes (which some people have done successfully), so I assumed they had both gone that way.

It never entered my thick head that if I had just looked a little harder, I would see them. I assumed they were taking the short cut, and I got upset, so I figured I needed to hustle down and meet them somewhere on the lower slopes. To add insult, I fell at one point, which isn't uncommon. It wasn't a bad fall at all. But it popped my water jug. All my water was leaking out. I was carrying it all in a plastic gallon jug. So I drank it all on the spot. That was it for my water.

So I get all the way down to the lower Trail Canyon, and can't see them. I was getting perplexed. Where were they? I hiked all the way back to the vehicle because by now, I was extremely dehydrated. I asked people there if they'd seen two hikers, giving their general description. They had not. So I got water and supplies and started right back up the trail. In moments, I came upon them. They had followed me out the whole way, wondering why I had run off like I did. Kelly, understandably, was furious with me.

I was still confused, because I still assumed they had come down the east-facing slopes. No, they said, they just followed me. When I realized what had actually happened, I realized the error was entirely mine. I felt lower than low, and it was all I could do to apologize. My grandmother's favorite word for foolish people was "horse's ass". I felt like one for a few hours. She probably would have called me one.

So we get into our vehicle and drive Steve back to his, say goodbye, thanking everyone and shaking hands. He turns over his ignition, and something is wrong. His vehicle ran very roughly, and the only way he could keep it from stalling was to run the engine at high RPMs while governing the movement with his clutch. We followed him back to pavement. It seemed to be running better, so he took off north, and Kelly and I went south, aiming for US-95. It was close to dark by now.

But wait, there's more!

Now it was just Kelly and me in the cab, me driving, Kelly ready to tear my head off. She didn't necessarily yell at me or anything. But I could tell she was very displeased with me. We were talking about this whole thing, me trying lamely to explain myself. I drove up to a highspot in the road. Immediately on the other side were about a half dozen cattle standing there in the road! There was no time to brake. Somehow, I swerved and perfectly threaded the needle. I did not hit any of the beasts. If I had, it could have been tragic.

That experience terrified both of us. We were already very unsettled from the day's events, and now this. I slowed way down, to near a crawl. It was just our vehicle on the highway. However, every shadow hid a cow ready to leap into the road. The whole way was unfenced until we reached US-95. I was extremely skittish, ready to skid to a stop the next cow I saw.

As if things weren't already exciting enough, a few times a rabbit would run into the road and stop, too close for me to brake or swerve. At least twice, I simply ran into the little animals. You could hear a soft thud and feel the impact slightly. Kelly would call me a "rabbit murderer".

Finally, back on US-95, which is fenced, we had an uneventful drive back into Las Vegas. We planned to get a room somewhere, shower, get something to eat, and sleep. I've read in books that Las Vegas is known for having hotel rooms. But no one would rent us a room. I doubt every single room was sold out. Perhaps my grubby appearance turned them against me. We tried some of the smaller "off strip" casino-hotels. No luck. We finally found a place, now nearing midnight, closer to downtown Las Vegas.

The place was a dump. The floor's carpet was soiled in some greasy residue, probably where some guy parked his motorcycle. The bedspread had cigarette holes in it. But the shower worked and the toilet flushed. We cleaned up, went out for a meal, and slept as little as possible in that hotel, essentially on top of the covers.

I had an early flight, so we were out of there by 6 a.m., Kelly driving me to the airport, and then she back to SoCal to get my brother's truck back to him.

What an experience. I learned a lot all at once and never felt so humbled and foolish for bailing on Kelly up high. I was happy to succeed on this hike but realized I had a lot to learn. Thanks to Kelly for not killing me on the spot.

(c) 1995, 2016 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.