TR Sawmill Pass 7/3/17
Posted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:08 am
Not being one to heed my own advice, I decided to hike up the Sawmill Pass trail on my day off. I was looking for a longish day hike that wouldn't be covered in snow and the southside Sawmill Pass trail looked to be the ticket. I drove to the trailhead so I didn't get the early start that everyone (including myself) advise. Fortunately the temps were down slightly. The parking area was full! I was quite surprised, but then it was the 4th of July week.I sweated buckets climbing up out of the desert. I've been up the trail before so I knew that I'd be able to see my car at the trailhead for about an hour. It was amazing to see the pooled water collecting in the Owens valley to the east of Hwy 395. It was a bit hazy from the Shaeffer fire to the south. Eventually the trail turns into the typical Sierra scenery, although it continues to climb at a serious incline. I was happy to not see the bears I'd run into at the stream crossing my last time through here. Eventually I got to Sawmill Meadow which was spectacular. The water is flowing everywhere including down the trail in spots. I stopped for an early lunch and was amazed that the bugs were mild - just a little repellent and they left me alone. There are quite a few nice campsite and a small number of them were occupied. After resting a bit (and airing out my feet), I continued on up the trail towards the lakes. Mule Lake had water in it and was quite pretty. It was crystal clear and reflected the blue in the sky. I continued up and was amazed when I came to the waterfall at the outlet of Sawmill Lake. The water is flowing at an amazing rate and this waterfall was something to behold. I hiked up the trail past Sawmill Lake. It was beautiful. I didn't do any exploring around the lake so I don't have much to pass on, but I did talk to a group of men who said they didn't catch anything over a couple days. I did see some large trout in the outlet so I know they are there. I headed for the pass. The trail was eventually covered by snow but it was soft in the afternoon sun so I was able to hike across it with only my trekking poles (no microspikes). On the way up I met a large party coming down who'd been down to the Woods Creek crossing. They'd planned to pass through Rae Lakes and exit over Kearsarge, but they turned back due to water flow. I wasn't clear on which stream was a problem for them (they did make the suspension bridge), but they said there were ropes placed across and it was waist deep. They decided it wasn't worth it and were backtracking when I saw them. Before I turned back I took some pics of the Woods Lake Basin. It's still got a lot of snow and the lakes are just beginning to thaw. I'd passed my turnaround time and reluctantly started back down the trail. After busting my quads on the way up, the relentless drop really wore me out. I was actually happy when I hit the small section of climb before the trail rounds Sawmill Point. A slight breeze on the way down to my car made the last miles much more pleasant than it could have been in July. When I reached the car I was exhausted but very happy to have seen the beauty along the trail.