Queen Mine RouteA 4x4 really makes this hike shorter and easier. Taking the dirt road from HWY 6 at the J.R. water container takes you to the Queen Mine. Most cars should be able to get to the mine, but the remainder does require four-wheeling. 4-wheeling cuts the hike distance down by about 1.5-miles (RT) and reduces the elevation gain by about 1000 feet (up.) The trailhead is at nearly 10,000 feet. We are greeted by 3, 6 - 8 point bucks.
The HikeThis hike opens up with about 900 feet of ascent before it levels off near 10,950 feet. We covered the distance to the Trail Canyon Saddle in about 1.5 hours. Here, though is where "the gloves come-off." From the Trail Canyon Saddle (approx. 10,850 feet,) the route quickly ascends to a saddle at nearly 12,000 feet. Although that is a lot of elevation gain in a short distance, we covered it in 45 minutes. This is about the mid-point of the hike. From here it is easy going to the saddle between Boundary and the 12,210 foot peak you just traversed behind. From this saddle, the route is its most complicated. Most of it winds in, around, and over large rocks and boulders. Cairns are visible most of the time, but it is easy to lose the trail. If you suffer vertigo, this route is not for you. It is very steep all around, and the angles looking downward are intimidating. If you slip, you'll slide a little, but you will most likely stop. If you tumble...well, I'd say it's "goodbye." It takes approximately 1.5 hours to tackle this section which ascends about 1,300 feet. The "bouldering" keeps the pace slow.
The PeakAfter 4 hours of hiking (which includes approx. 45 minutes of rest time,) we reached our objective, Boundary Peak (13,145 feet,) and our 2nd high point. From the peak, the view is tremendous and intimidating with the down angles. There is a GeoCache (www.geocaching.com) on the summit, although I had not heard of this before. So, take something to leave in the container, if you are into that sort of thing. I left a small U.S. flag in the rocks beside a KIA (Killed-In-Action, honoring our fallen soldiers) flag someone else had left. I usually pose with the small U.S. flag on hikes, but it felt like the right thing to do by leaving it. We get to cover this great land of ours however we like, because others have paid the ultimate price. If I leave a flag on every peak from now until I die, it will not be enough of a "thank you," or enough of an honor to those who have died fighting for and protecting our freedom. (go ahead, cue up the National Anthem or maybe "America, the Beautiful.")
Wrap-upDescending is easier, but still complicated because of the boulders and scree. It took us approximately 2.5 hours to reach the trailhead. All-in-all our hike round-trip was just under 7 hours. This hike is not easy, and we half-joked that that was probably the last time we try that peak. There is no cover from the sun, and the elevation gain is at times diabolical. The wind really picks-up after 11:00 a.m., which makes the going more miserable. Luckily, we started at 6:30 a.m., so we did not have to deal with the wind until we were almost back to the Trail Canyon Saddle.
As with any hike, the people you meet are a significant part. So, Dave good luck with your high-point quest. He was on number 16, and traveling for more in the next 2 weeks. To Thomas, everyone has limits, and recognizing them is intelligent. To Thomas' fellow servicemen, congratulations guys, we saw you on the summit! And more importantly, thank you for your service. That U.S. flag was for you.
Sport ScienceI am a Kinesiology Lecturer and an avid sports freak, so here are some useful sport science data:
7 hour RT hike (7 - 10 miles, please send me a note if you know the exact mileage) 6:35 a.m - 1:30 p.m.
Ascent 4 hours, no wind, 68.7 deg F on summit.
Ascent Trailhead to Trail Canyon Saddle, 1 hr. 35 min. (includes 1 rest, 20 min.)
Ascent Trail Canyon Saddle to 12,000 ft. Saddle, 45 min.
20 min. rest at 12,000 ft. Saddle
Ascent 12,000 ft. Saddle to Boundary Peak summit, 1 hr. 20 min.
20 min. rest on summit
Descent 2 hours, windy, 76 deg. F at trailhead.
3 Rest stops (2 during ascent, 1 on summit) accumulated to 1 hour (Trail Canyon Saddle, 12,000 ft. Saddle, Summit)
Pulse-oximeter readings at rest except where noted:
10,000 ft. - 98% saturation, 71 bpm HR
12,000 ft. - 96% saturation, 87 bpm HR
12,000 ft. (climbing) - 88% saturation, 137 bpm HR
13,145 ft. - 94% saturation, 78 bpm HR
Used 2.5 liters of 1:2 water:Gatorade mix, plus 650 ml of pure water on summit (plenty hydrated, 1-2 big drinks every 10-15 minutes)
Ate 1 banana and a milk, OJ, protein powder and olive oil mix (400 Cals)for breakfast. Drank 1 Hansens Energy drink (120 Cals.) Ate 1 almond butter and spreadable fruit sandwich (300 Cals) during hike. I am sea-level dweller, so my appetite for solid food diminishes. The sports drink and water mix provided at least half my calories (300 Cals.) Ate a nice salad, steak, and potato for dinner back at 4500 ft. (Bishop, CA)
Route requires tremendous focus for at least 4 hours above 11,000 ft. (scree, boulders, loose rocks, route finding)
Comparable to completing a marathon regarding accumulated physical and mental strain. Not for the novice.