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Sawmill Pass - Colosseum Mountain

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Sawmill Pass - Colosseum Mountain

Postby wingding » Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:20 pm

I headed up the Sawmill Pass Trail at 5 am on Saturday and that was at
least an hour later than I should have started because the sun was
shining on me very quickly. The trailhead is only at 4,587' elevation. Those first few miles on a sandy trail with the sun beating down were no fun. Once I hit Sawmill Creek, the shady trail was really nice. The creek crossings were easy and Sawmill Meadow was beautiful, but not many flowers yet. I passed Mule Lake and went on to Sawmill Lake (10,000' elevation) to camp. Yesterday, Sunday, I day hiked over Sawmill Pass and then north over the suncups to a chute SSW of Colosseum that took me up to the gentle plateau about a 1/2 mile from the summit of Colosseum (12,450'). I headed over to the summit to enjoy the view. No one had been up there since Memorial Day Weekend. After enjoying the great views from the summit I headed back down to Sawmill Lake, packed up, and headed out. There was no way I was going to go out in the morning when the sun was beating down on those first few miles near the trailhead. I made it out at 8 pm and was in the shade all the way out - that sandy trail that I was swearing at on the way up was a pleasure to hike down - the sand made for a fast hike out.

My pictures:

http://kathywing.smugmug.com/gallery/1578213



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Postby quentinc » Mon Jun 19, 2006 9:00 pm

I've only been down Sawmill Pass -- I'd sure hate to hike up through the sand. I recall that the top of the trail was terrible too -- all crumbling rock and gravel. The snow probably actually made it more pleasant.
Beautiful pictures.
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Postby copeg » Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:30 am

Beautful pictures wingding.
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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Tue Jun 20, 2006 8:42 am

Nice pictures and a nice hike idea. Having just done a Woods Lakes story and I actually wanted to have done the Woods Lake tour from the east side, this was nice to see. It never occured to me to take on Colosseum, and now I wish I had. A nice story in pictures.
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Postby krudler » Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:17 am

Fantastic pics, Kathy - like always! :nod:
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Postby doug395 » Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:09 pm

Nice trip report Kathy and great pictures. The lakes breaking up with those aqua blue spots are just so cool. What bag did you end up taking?
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Postby Snow Nymph » Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:27 pm

Beautiful area! I've only looked down Sawmill Pass (day trip from the JMT).
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Postby madeintahoe » Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:31 pm

Thank you Kathy for posting these!! What an incredible beautiful area! I love Sawmill Lake! ..WOW no snow at 10,000 feet...thats so awesome, it is really melting fast with this warm weather. I love those high barren plateau's.
I have to ask how do you compare Sawmill Pass with Shepherd Pass? & did you use your seedhouse tent? Curious on how you like it and if you had enough room in it?

Beautiful pictures, Thank you again :D
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Postby wingding » Tue Jun 20, 2006 1:30 pm

Thanks everyone for checking out my pictures. It sure was beautiful up there.

Doyle - I checked out your report and pictures from your trip - very nice. I guess that area is just beautiful no matter which way you come from and with or without the snow.

Doug - I took the 10 degree bag, but I would have been fine with the 30 degree bag because it was warm at night.

MadeinTahoe - I brought the bivy with me for this trip because with my heavier sleeping bag, axe and crampons I was carrying enough weight already. I'll probably keep using the bivy for trips that are only one night. I did use the Seedhouse over Memorial Day Weekend to try it out. It worked great - we were in a crowded area in the San Gorgnio Wilderness, so having a private place to change my close and try to clean up was nice. This past weekend I has Sawmill Lake all to myself - so it was like having my own private lake.

The first 4 miles of the Sawmill Pass trail are tough on the way up - really sandy and hot - it gets sun first thing in the morning. With the Shepherd Pass Trail, you will be in the shade for a while if you start at 5 in the morning. After the first 4 miles, the Sawmill Pass Trail is really nice and shady; so they're about the same. You also have a bit of uphill on the way out on both of the trails. It took me eight hours to backpack to Sawmill Lake from the trailhead, which is 8 miles and a total of 5,700 feet gain (I went through 2 liters of water in the first 4 miles), but it only took me 3 hours and 15 minutes to hike out from Sawmill Lake - I was able to move really fast in that sand on the way out - no rocks to stumble on.


The snow was perfect in the morning when I went over Sawmill Pass and into the basin - just soft enough so that I didn't need my crampons going over the pass and just hard enough that I could walk on the top part of the snow-cups in the basin. By the time I got back down from Colosseum the snow cups were softer, but not so bad that post-holing was a big problem.
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