We hiked from the Queen Mine trail head. We came from Yosemite National Park via 120 and caught highway 6 in Benton. We could see Boundary and Montgomery from the desert long before we got there. I really didn’t expect to see that much snow on the top. The dirt road turn-off was very easy to find, thanks to trip reports and trail descriptions I’ve read here on summitpost.org. We parked at the mine entrance parking lot because we didn’t have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. We had a rental car and it did just fine on the dirt road. It was a long ride (6.2 miles) from the highway due to the slow speed. We arrived mid afternoon and planned to car camp for the night so we could get an early start. We had a tent with us but didn’t feel like taking the time to pack up in the morning. We had all afternoon to arrange our gear and we also did a little exploring. Checked out the mines but didn’t go inside. We decided to walk up the dirt road to the saddle, which is where the trail actually starts. The wind up on the saddle was ferocious. We were happy to be camping down at the mine where there was very little wind at the moment.
Here Come The Fuzz
We finished all our gear prep and we were just hanging out reading and resting when we heard vehicles in the distance. Three 4x4 vehicles appeared a few minutes later. I was kind of happy to have a few more hikers join us. There were 7 total and a few of them had even done this hike before. Turns out, they were all police officers from Reno and Las Vegas. They were hiking in memory of fallen officers. They’re part of the organization www.copsontop.com
A great bunch of guys and gal. They brought everything but the kitchen sink and graciously welcomed us to join them. It was nice to not have to eat dehydrated food again. We had a big fire, beans and hot dogs. They even had wine but we chose not to partake.
As we were sitting around chatting, a man and his dog came walking down from the trail head. He had just spent 12 hours hiking Boundary. He and Chiva are on a journey to hike all the state highpoints. Not only were they hiking, but they were using a bicycle to get to each highpoint. This was his 4th. They’re actually raising awareness for animals. He is keeping a blog and it’s at www.tourdedog.org
Up We Go
We woke up Saturday morning to frosty windows. The temperature had dipped below freezing but we stayed pretty warm in our bags. By the time everyone got up and moving the sun was up. We hopped in the back of a pickup and rode up to the trail head which is a mile and 500’ higher in elevation, so that was nice. We started the hike @ 7:15. It was breezy and cool but completely sunny. The trail started uphill quickly and made way to the ridge, where we got our first glimpse of the summit. It was snow covered and steep. We hiked via the ridge for quite some time and then reached the saddle. We took a break at the clump of bristlecone pine logs and planned our ascent up this massive scree hill.
There was a slight trail that zig zagged up for a while and then we hit snow @ 11,000’. We also hit colder and windier conditions. The snow was deep but mostly frozen. We had crampons and ice axes but chose not to bring them. It was slow going without them and at times quite scary. After 5 hours of laboring through hip deep snow at times, we made the summit. It was such a great feeling to come up over that last little ledge and see the summit rock cluster!
We stayed on the summit for maybe 30 minutes. I was starting to feel a bit nauseas. I forced down a cliff bar and we started the journey down. The snow was getting softer and we were sinking deeper, but the journey down was much faster and easier. We got back to the car by 4:20 pm and hauled butt to Bishop, where we got a motel room and prepared for our main objective of this vacation….. Mt. Whitney!