www.MountainHiker.org

Hiking Stats as of 11/14/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet
I was in Southern California for the big hike of Big Pine Mountain, but that was not until the next day. I came down a few hours early to continue the pursuit of the California County highpoints. Mt. Pinos (Ventura County) and Sawmill Mountain (Kern County) are an easy two-fer and would make a perfect warm up hike for Big Pine.

I left home in the early afternoon taking I-5 south to Frazier Park and then taking the well signed road all the way up to the Mt. Pinos Nordic Base at 8300 feet. Quite a lofty starting elevation. It was brutally hot on the trip down, over 100 degrees in the valley, but up here is was about 75 degrees and very pleasant. I started off a little after 4 PM, on the easy to follow trail which wound its way up to the summit, only a couple of miles and maybe 500 vertical feet uphill. The trail was in great condition and there were a lot of people out to beat the afternoon heat. But it was easy, and so it was with little satisfaction that I made it to the summit. There were some really good views for such little effort, and I poked around and found the Benchmark before continuing on towards Sawmill Mountain.

Another well defined trail leads over to Sawmill, with a 400 foot drop followed by a 400 foot gain over the course of 1 1/2 miles. Very easy once again. The trial starts off fully exposed, but ends up in some tall pines before leading to a giant cairn near the summit. The cairn had some frayed prayer flags in it, the first time I had seen them up close and funny to see on such an easy peak. I followed the ridgeline for a bit before descending to a a gully to the south as there was a triple divide peak (dividing the headwaters of three drainages which I ascended and found a register in really bad shape, having only been signed by David Sanger and Andrew Kirmse, two of my hiking buddies who had done this hike a couple of months ago.

Rather than go back down, I continued on towards Grouse Mountain, an HPS listed peak and much like the other peaks it was another 400 feet vertical up and down over 1 1/2 miles. Easy enough for the first two, might as well go for one more. The trail didn't go up to the peak, but wrapped around it. But there was a use trail that took me up to the top, where I found a summit register. I signed in, but when I looked at my GPS to log the ascent in Peakbagger it appeared that I was some 400 feet away. I wasn't sure, but decided to play it safe and look further for another highpoint. I'm not sure that anything was higher, but I did satisfy my GPS that I was on the real summit. Now to reverse course. I went back down, up towards Sawmill (but not all the way to the top), back down, then back up to Pinos and finally back down to the car. It seems that this area is big for astronomy, judging by all of the telescopes pointing up at the sky. I had no time for stargazing, and set off towards Maricopa and the motel I was staying at and would meet up with Chris and Andrew the following morning for the big hike of Big Pine Mountain.

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