May Summer Social Hike #1 Recap
May Social Hike at Mt. Pinos on May 24th.
Objective: Nordic Base to Sawmill Mountain with a detour to Sheep Camp
Distance: 8.93 miles
Time: 4 hours, 55 minutes
Avg. Grade: 0.3% (Ascent: 2158’ / Descent: 2002’)
Map(s): USGS Sawmill Mountain 2015; 2015 SCNSP Patroller (Trail-Patroller.PDF)
UTM: Sawmill Mountain: 11S 301713 3854516
Sheep Camp: 11S 301070 3854073
What an amazing morning for a hike! The weather was perfect - still a bit of chill in the air, but no wind and plenty of sun. Never a better time to explore the mountain as spring is bringing new sites to every trail.
Turnout was low - only three of us (and Arrow the Dog), but with the holiday weekend, expected.
We started the trail to Sawmill Mountain at 9:02AM (prompt!) by tackling Armagosa first. While I touched on this trail earlier in the season, as you push further towards the top, the sad reality of downed trees is extremely evident. Having hiked all the trails on our patrol maps this year, fallen trees are the common theme on most - especially those that are less popular. The sight of large - very large trees, toppled over is difficult to bear. It’s been a tough winter on the mountain.
Trail condition, as expected, is minimal since this truly is an unmarked path to the top. As such, it was a perfect opportunity to work on both dead-recogning, map and GPS skills. We did well coming out at the “defined” trailhead at Second Meadow.
Excellent views at the top and happily - NO WIND!, but we didn’t stop long starting the trek to Sawmill at the Tumamait Trail marker. For those that haven’t been down that side of the mountain recently, the Forest Service has a “newer” sign announcing the entrance to the Chumash Wilderness near the base of the mountain. A nice addition to the trail.
(Entering the Chumash Wilderness. Mt. Pinos to the left and Sawmill Mountain to the right)
Trail conditions were excellent. No signs of mountain bikes or ruts, and on the last two times we’ve hiked this (both in April and May), minimal traffic.
The rest of the hike to the summit of Sawmill was spent enjoying the view and the beautiful surroundings. There is something almost magical about the saddle between Mt. Pinos and Sawmill. For myself, it’s about as close as one can get to the perfect forest hike - ample shade, huge trees, abundant birdlife and a few fantastic views.
(Hiking the area around Sheep Camp)
We made it to the top of Sawmill (8847’) at 10:38AM - 3.3 miles from Nordic Base. Again, beautiful views from the cairn and no wind. Feeling fantastic, we decided to push further southwest to Sheep Camp (4.3 miles).
(View of the cairn and rock piles on the top of Sawmill Mountain)
In a few weeks, Sheep Camp will be an amazing place. The meadow is covered in iris just on the cusp of blooming. Once they start, it will be worth the hike to see them. The campsites are in excellent condition, water is still flowing at a steady trickle and there is zero trash. Folks that stay here have been doing a great job of leaving no trace. We met a few campers on their way out, so as always, the camp is popular but not packed. It was a perfect spot to sit down, rest our feet and have a good lunch.
(Spring at Sheep Camp)
The traverse back, oddly, always seems like an easier hike. As we crossed the saddle, we watched the weather roll in. The top of Mt. Pinos was soon shrouded in a thick, white cloud bank. Watching it change as we climbed higher was a testament to how unpredictable mountain weather can be (and why a good raincoat in the pack is always a great idea during the springtime). By the time we made it to the top of Condor Point, it was completely fogged in. The fog stayed with us until we made it off the mountain.
The hike ended at Nordic Base at 1:54PM, 8.9 miles later. Two peaks topped and three traverses! Three tired hikers, one exhausted pup, but all happy with the outing. Our day ended with a celebration at Mike’s Pizza.
Elevation Profile: Nordic Base to Sawmill Mountain to Sheep Camp to Nordic Base
Posted on June 27, 2015
Updated on June 27, 2015
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