Eight baggers joined me on a piney stroll last August along the ridgepole of northern Ventura County. The peaks surrendered uneventfully on a very chilly, fallish day for August. The stiff, cold northwest wind had us huddling in the lee of rock outcrops on the more open summits of Pinos and Sawmill.
The broad, high, open summit area of Pinos, with its hard-edged, brilliant sunlight, stunted sagebrush, scattered stands of wind-pruned limber pines, and Indian paintbrush, looked and felt more like central Wyoming than Southern California. Only the view to the north, over the seemingly permanent gray haze that blankets the San Joaquin Valley, reminded me that we weren't "somewhere west of Laramie."
Atop Grouse, three climbers who hadn't had enough signed out from the group to bag Cerro Noroeste, despite my friendly warnings about the big deep hole between the two peaks.
On our return, we met many mountain bikers on the ridge leading to Pinos. It seems the "haute route" over to Grouse has become a favorite bike trek.