Kern County High Point Trip Report
Date: May 17, 2003
After hiking to the top of Mount Pinos, I basically repeated Dave Covill's experiment to determine Kern
County's highest point. If you are interested in the background, refer to his and other's reports.
I agree with Dave's contention that the highest point is the shoulder 100 yards north of the Pinos summit,
but my numbers are different than Dave's, and given the equipment and assumptions used, it is too close too call,
in my opinion.
Equipment: I had Dave's near-new, precision 5-power hand level, backed up by my very good 2X level.
Dave's level is a small telescope.
Assumptions: That the map-given altitudes on the summits of Pinos and Sawmill are accurate.
They are 8,837 feet for Pinos (not 8,831 as earlier reported) and 8,818 feet for Sawmill.
My procedure: The day was fine, and I had the time, so I leveled carefully on top of both Pinos and Sawmill
to determine each summit's HP elevation, and the elevation of the north shoulder of Pinos. Even with the
small telescope, my hand-level measurements between the two summits were inconclusive, and I do not
include them as part of this report.
Pinos: Using two different techniques, I concluded that the top of the boulder in the trees 100 yards north of
Pinos' highest point is 16 feet lower than Pinos' highest point, which is a boulder just north of the fence
around the summit tower. The top of this boulder is, in my estimation, three feet higher than the benchmark,
which is 30 feet to the north, not four feet higher as Dave estimated. That one-foot difference
turns out to be significant. If the given altitude on Pinos of 8,837 feet is for the BM, then the altitude of the
Kern HP candidate to the north is 8,824 feet. If the given altitude is for Pinos' highest boulder, then the
altitude of the Kern HP candidate to the north is 8,821 feet.
Sawmill: Like Dave, I concluded that the boulder 100 yards northeast of the large cairn with the register is
three feet higher than the spot with the given elevation of 8,818 feet. That makes Sawmill's highest point 8,821 feet.
Conclusion: If the given altitude of 8,837 feet is for the Pinos BM, then the rock in the trees 100 yards north
of the Pinos summit is the highest point in Kern county, but only by three feet over Sawmill's highest point.
If the given altitude on Pinos of 8,837 feet is for the highest boulder on Pinos, then the Kern County HP is a
toss-up between the rock in the trees 100 yards north of the Pinos summit, and Sawmill's highest point. It is
probable that the given Pinos elevation is for the BM not the highest point, thus it is equally probable that
the north shoulder of Pinos is the Kern County HP. Until someone can visit these summits with better equipment,
climb both Pinos and Sawmill, and visit the rock in the trees north of Pinos' highest point.
Fortunately, this is a trivial extra effort.
Author: Gerry Roach