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Boundary Peak and Montgomery? or Charleston?

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Boundary Peak and Montgomery? or Charleston?

Postby Alex Wood » Fri Dec 04, 2009 9:42 pm

I am driving back from Flagstaff to California with a friend and I am trying to decided what to do in five days on the way back.

I want to do Boundary and Montgomery, but I don't want to drive 10 hours and find that I can't get anywhere close to the trail-head in my car due to snow. Any ideas as to how far I will be able to drive with my Ford Tauras to either the Queens Creek TH or the Trail Canyon TH? Also, how doable is Boundary and Montgomery Peak in December (I would be going up there probably the 12th and 13th)?

My second option would be to go to the Spring Mountains and do Mt. Charleston, Griffith, Lee, and Mummy in a few days and then maybe head to J Tree after. That seems more logical and involves less driving, but I really want to get higher up north.

Any input would be appreciated!
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Postby McCannster » Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:50 am

Charleston would be your best bet, Boundary and Montgomery are awfully far north. Access is better for your vehicle too cause you could park at the ski place. Charleston's on my list for when I drive back in May. I've never been up the access roads for Boundary/Montgomery, but it's way more remote up there, so I would figure there could be more snow blockage, rough road surface, etc.
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Postby MoapaPk » Sat Dec 05, 2009 1:29 am

While there are several routes up Charleston from the ski area, there are no trails to the peak from there. The normal Lee chute requires you to cross the ski area, which is frowned upon during ski season. I've used another route off Bristlecone, but it would be really tough with snow, and is hard to navigate even when the sparse small cairns are visible.

The normal parking for Mummy, Griffith or Charleston is off Kyle Canyon road. People normally get to the NLT by parking at the base of Trail Canyon, on the N side of the canyon (Mummy is on the way, but is off-trail from about 10100' to the summit). The normal route to Griffith is on the S side of the canyon (park near the outhouses). That's also the access to the SLT.

That area already has some snow above 8000'. Monday is forecast to have a 90% chance of snow.

The NLT (North Loop Trail) has one stretch S of Devil's Thumb that gets very creepy when there is sufficient snow to drift and slant across the trail.

In a normal year, Charleston gets more snow than Boundary. However, roads are usually plowed to nearly 8000'. They day after a snowstorm -- especially on weekends -- the police may allow only 4wd or cars with chains above about 7000'.
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Re: Boundary Peak and Montgomery? or Charleston?

Postby mstender » Sat Dec 05, 2009 1:50 am

Woodzy wrote: Any ideas as to how far I will be able to drive with my Ford Tauras to either the Queens Creek TH or the Trail Canyon TH?


We were able to drive within a mile or so of the Trail Canyon TH in a Toyota Matrix before it got too sketchy but that was without snow (in July). I agree that it is pretty remote and we were essentially alone on the road for the most coming from Bishop.
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Postby Day Hiker » Sat Dec 05, 2009 5:10 am

MoapaPk wrote:The normal route to Griffith is on the S side of the canyon (park near the outhouses). That's also the access to the SLT.


Have fun trying to get a parking spot there by the outhouses. It's incredibly frustrating. There are only about a dozen parking spaces, and they always seem full. People park there for the Cathedral Rock trail, so you'll be competing with that.

There used to be parking allowed on the shoulder of the road between the outhouses and the picnic area road (which goes to the trailhead), but "they" shut that down a few years ago, even though there is PLENTY of room on the shoulder for cars to park and be off the roadway. The no-parking signs are enforced, and the cops are issuing big tickets for anyone caught parking there.

In the winter, the road to the Cathedral Rock Picnic Area, which contains the trailhead, is not maintained snow-free, and it is closed. In the summer, when it is open, one must pay $7 (unless it has gone higher again) as a fee for the picnic area, just to park there at the trailhead, EVEN THOUGH YOU WON'T BE USING THE GODDAMN PICNIC AREA. So you'll have to pay just as much as the people who are going there to actually use the picnic facilities. Keep in mind that this is a National Forest that is already owned by all of us, with our tax dollars, and all you're trying to do is access a trailhead.

On top of that, they close the gate at a certain hour (20:00?), so you have to rush your ass off the mountain by their stupid parking-area curfew, even though you paid the pricks to park in there. And you can't get there really early in the morning for an early start, because the gate is not open until their "business hours" begin. Why not just leave the gate open all night? What difference does it make if a few people are parked in there late at night because they're still on the trail or whatever?

So I always wind up parking in the gravel lot behind the Mount Charleston Lodge, which is apparently private property, so it's only luck that the Lodge doesn't seem to have a problem with it. Parking there requires that you walk a bunch uphill on the boring road, just to get to the trailhead. It's not too incredibly far, but it just seems wrong in principle that one should have to park on the Lodge private property just to access a National Forest trailhead that has parking spaces and is already owned by us, the taxpayers. There is NOWHERE else to park for the South Loop Trail, other than the outhouse area (always full), the trailhead (stupid fee, evening curfew, and no early mornings), and the Lodge (private property).

I don't know why I should have to pay a picnic-area fee if I'm just going there to hike and not use any picnic-area facilities. And even if you feel like wasting $7 that day, the lot is still impractical for a lot of hikers because of the evening 20:00 parking curfew.
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Postby MoapaPk » Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:17 am

I've been able to park by the outhouses (by SLT):

1) if I get there really early (a given if one plans to do the SLT route to Charleston on a short winter day);

2) if I go on weekdays instead of weekends;

3) or if I define "by the outhouses" as the 100 m of road BEFORE one gets to the outhouses (downhill). As of this summer, no tickets were issued for people parking down the hill, as long as they were well off the pavement.

On popular snowy days, especially on weekends, all the yahoos from town take up every available space, and if you get there really early, they can double-park and block your exit.

There are advantages to being in the middle of nowhere.

To reach Chaz via SLT in December, when the snow is more than 6" deep, be on the trail by 6:30AM at the latest.
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Postby Day Hiker » Sat Dec 05, 2009 8:14 am

MoapaPk wrote:I've been able to park by the outhouses (by SLT):

1) if I get there really early (a given if one plans to do the SLT route to Charleston on a short winter day);

2) if I go on weekdays instead of weekends;

3) or if I define "by the outhouses" as the 100 m of road BEFORE one gets to the outhouses (downhill). As of this summer, no tickets were issued for people parking down the hill, as long as they were well off the pavement.

On popular snowy days, especially on weekends, all the yahoos from town take up every available space, and if you get there really early, they can double-park and block your exit.

There are advantages to being in the middle of nowhere.

To reach Chaz via SLT in December, when the snow is more than 6" deep, be on the trail by 6:30AM at the latest.


I guess the original post is about doing the peak in the winter, and with the snow and short hours, you have to get an early start, and my talk about later start times has no relevance. My experiences with parking there are mainly in the summer, since I'm not much into doing 17-mile hikes in the snow. (If I park there in winter, it would be for Griffith.) The trailhead is a full hour drive from my house, so in summer, I'm not going to wake up sleep-deprived to do a hike that is only going to take part of the day. I can start hiking at noon and be back to my car at a reasonable time of night, so that's what I prefer to do. I'll wake up early to do a snow climb somewhere, since there is an actual reason for that, but I'm not getting up at some asinine time like 04:30 to go hike a dry trail, just so I can wind up back at my car at noon.

The original poster was discussing parking there on weekend days, and I also would mostly be concerned with weekend hikes, at least when I'm employed.

Are there no-parking signs downhill of the outhouses? If so, it's a bad risk to park there because my friend and her husband each got tickets for something like $140 for parking where there are no-parking signs in that area. I'm not going to play cop roulette and try to beat the odds with what days those pricks decide to write $140 parking tickets.
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Postby MoapaPk » Sat Dec 05, 2009 3:55 pm

Day Hiker wrote:Are there no-parking signs downhill of the outhouses? If so, it's a bad risk to park there because my friend and her husband each got tickets for something like $140 for parking where there are no-parking signs in that area. I'm not going to play cop roulette and try to beat the odds with what days those pricks decide to write $140 parking tickets.


I should have put an explicit OR between each choice in my previous post.

There weren't (signs downhill) as of this summer; I've parked there at least 5 times on weekends this last year. During snow-play time, all bets are off; the rules get pretty arbitrary, as does the enforcement. Lately they have been doing construction in that area, so who knows what the rules will be tomorrow.

Perhaps I'm not thinking of the same folks, but I believe the exorbitant tickets were not for parking. The couple had gone to hike in an area that was claimed to be closed to sledders, and they were cited for hiking through a closed area. But that also brings up a good point; the TH for the SLT may get closed arbitrarily to prevent the snow-play yahoos from smashing into trees and leaving trash behind. Some folks have avoided the situation by starting on the Cathedral Rock Trail (stairs by the outhouses), and taking the cutover E to the SLT.

Mummy is looking better and better all the time.

The success of a winter day outing to Chaz, by SLT, goes way down once you get more than a few inches of snow on the ground.

It's good that you brought up the parking issue. The potential hikers may want to call the Kyle Ranger Station at 702-872-5486 weekdays 9-4:30 beforehand, to get the latest scoop on parking... and hope the person who answers the phone has a clue...
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Postby Day Hiker » Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:08 pm

MoapaPk wrote:
Day Hiker wrote:Are there no-parking signs downhill of the outhouses? If so, it's a bad risk to park there because my friend and her husband each got tickets for something like $140 for parking where there are no-parking signs in that area. I'm not going to play cop roulette and try to beat the odds with what days those pricks decide to write $140 parking tickets.


I should have put an explicit OR between each choice in my previous post.

There weren't (signs downhill) as of this summer; I've parked there at least 5 times on weekends this last year. During snow-play time, all bets are off; the rules get pretty arbitrary, as does the enforcement. Lately they have been doing construction in that area, so who knows what the rules will be tomorrow.

Perhaps I'm not thinking of the same folks, but I believe the exorbitant tickets were not for parking. The couple had gone to hike in an area that was claimed to be closed to sledders, and they were cited for hiking through a closed area. But that also brings up a good point; the TH for the SLT may get closed arbitrarily to prevent the snow-play yahoos from smashing into trees and leaving trash behind. Some folks have avoided the situation by starting on the Cathedral Rock Trail (stairs by the outhouses), and taking the cutover E to the SLT.

I just checked, and the people I know got their two tickets in summer, when they were going for a hike on the SLT. The tickets were not $140; they were closer to $200 each . . . :shock: . . . for safely parking on the shoulder, off the roadway, on a non-urban road.

They did in fact park uphill from the outhouses, where there are no-parking signs. That was an obvious error in judgment on their part. But why is no parking allowed there? There are no businesses or residences there; the parking on the shoulder is adjacent to a DIRT HILL. How is that hurting anybody? They allowed parking there for years and years, until those signs were put up a few years back. What was the problem? It's not in front of anyone's house or business. Why can't you park off the roadway in front of a stupid dirt hill?

Do people really like living in a society that is choked with pointless restrictions and rules prohibiting all kinds of harmless things?

MoapaPk wrote:Mummy is looking better and better all the time.

For sure. When I did Charleston Peak with DayHikerJr, I parked at the Trail Canyon trailhead and took the North Loop to Chucky instead, so I wouldn't have to worry about the SLTH gate closure.

I do like the South Loop to Charleston more, though. I never liked the way the NLT goes up and down at around the 11000-foot level for what seems to be about 70 or 80 miles. The little bit of level on the SLT through the meadows isn't as obnoxious. And from there, one has views of Telescope Peak, and on a clear day, the SierraS. The SLT is also really appealing for when one wants to just do a straightforward 9 miles round-trip with 3400 feet of gain (Griffith Peak).
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Postby MoapaPk » Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:20 pm

Day Hiker wrote:
Do people really like living in a society that is choked with pointless restrictions and rules prohibiting all kinds of harmless things?


Man, we are about to spin into thread hijack!

Well, at least we warned the OP (indirectly) that there are some tradeoffs for picking Chaz. I'd rather pick Mummy's Nose
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Postby Day Hiker » Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:43 pm

MoapaPk wrote:Man, we are about to spin into thread hijack!


My use of the word "SierraS" puts it into dangerous territory for sure. :lol:
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Postby PellucidWombat » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:05 pm

I climbed Boundary Peak from the valley (west side) last May and the route was pretty nice. There was only one short section of moderate bushwacking. If you don't mind working harder for the summits, it could be a good route to do in the winter :)

If this sounds at all tempting, let me know and I can tell you the route info since I haven't yet added it it SP.
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Postby MoapaPk » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:52 pm

PellucidWombat wrote:I climbed Boundary Peak from the valley (west side) last May and the route was pretty nice. There was only one short section of moderate bushwacking. If you don't mind working harder for the summits, it could be a good route to do in the winter :)


Actually that seems good -- less elevation gain than Shorty's Well to Telescope! :)
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Postby Alex Wood » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:57 pm

PellucidWombat wrote:I climbed Boundary Peak from the valley (west side) last May and the route was pretty nice. There was only one short section of moderate bushwacking. If you don't mind working harder for the summits, it could be a good route to do in the winter :)

If this sounds at all tempting, let me know and I can tell you the route info since I haven't yet added it it SP.


Its tempting, but I have gone ahead and made planes for Charleston and then stuff in the Mojave. I would still be interested in hearing it though because I am mostly likely going to be up there for spring break in March.

and thank you all for your feedback on this topic! It has helped alot in planning.
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Postby MoapaPk » Tue Dec 08, 2009 12:25 am

Current forecasts are for up to 2 feet of new snow above 7000' in Charleston area. It will be soft powder, unconsolidated. Shorter climbs -- e.g North Sister from the N side, Fletcher from the back, Amargosa Overlook -- may be reasonable with snowshoes, but there could be big sloughs.

I've done Griffith with snowshoes in soft powder twice (6' snow) -- just start early.
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