Wednesday, October 10, 2018

W1/HA-041 Pack Monadnock

Pack Monadnock is the highest and most prominent summit in Hillsborough County. It is also a very easy peak to activate. There is a paved road to the summit for those who don't like hiking. I had a few hours in the morning before I had to head to the airport to go back to California, so my Mom and I headed out to a nearby easy peak.
Heading up the well maintained Wapack Trail, blazed with yellow triangles.
We paid our entry fee and parked at the base of the road in Miller State Park. It was overcast with low clouds, and cool, but it didn't rain while we were out. We decided to make a loop, heading up the Wapack Trail then down the Marion Davis Trail. Neither trail is hard, and the loop could be done in either direction.
One of the stunning views we got on the way up.
We made good time, and got to the summit in about an hour. There was no view, but we climbed up the fire tower anyways. This peak is used in the fall to count and watch raptors as they migrate, but there were none to be seen today.
I claimed a picnic table and got set up. There was great cell coverage, so I spotted myself on 20. I got three contacts there, then went down to 30. I was getting worried I wouldn't get a fourth, but N4EX came back to me and saved the activation.
The antenna gathering water.
By this point we had been on top for about 30 minutes and were getting cold. I quickly packed up, and we headed back down. There were lots of groups and young kids coming up, probably because it was a school holiday. Back at the car we headed home for some lunch with the rest of the family.

Trailhead: Miller State Park, on NH 101.
Website: SOTA Site. State Park Site
Route: Hike up either the Wapack Trail or the Marion Davis Trail. Same start and end points, same lengths and difficulties.
Red Tape: None.
Foggy New Hampshire forest.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

W1/HA-179 Oak Hill

After activating Bear Mountain I drove over here to get another summit in before heading home. This peak is an easy drive-up in Madison. From Rt 113, go up Eidelweiss Drive to Oak Ridge Road, which takes you to the summit. It had started to rain lightly, but not enough for me to cancel the activation.
Helpful sign letting you know there's a scenic vista here.
There was no one else there, so I didn't feel bad using the entire picnic table. The clouds were low, but there were still some views down over the ponds below. I started on 20 meters, and worked  quite a few stations, including one in Spain. Thirty and 40 didn't get as many contacts. I tried 2 meters, but didn't have any luck there.
At least the leaves were in full color.

I was in contact with Rex, KE6MT, so he could try and get a complete, but it didn't work out. The sun was setting and the mist wasn't letting up, so I packed up for the long drive back home in the dark and rain.

Trailhead: Top of Oak Ridge Road.
Website: SOTA Site.
Route: Walk over to the table.
Red Tape: None.
A very red maple.

W1/HA-028 Bear Mountain

I had gone back to New Hampshire for a wedding, and was able to sneak in a few peaks. The first one on my radar was an unactivated peak in the White Mountains, Bear Mountain. I braved the holiday weekend leaf peeper traffic on the Kancamagus Highway, and took it to Bear Notch Road. Just past the height of land is a forest service road, where I parked.
Overcast in Bear Notch.
I crossed the road and started heading up the hill. There was a trail to the summit many years ago, but in the lower parts of the mountain there are no signs of it. There were some challenging sections, pushing uphill through dense pines and over and around blowdowns. I made slow but steady progress up.
Lots of color through the forest.
Up around 2800 feet the ridge I was following got less steep, and I found some use paths. This really sped me up. The sky was still overcast, but it didn't rain at all, which I appreciated. The forest got dense again near the summit, but with the path I was quickly at the top. I found the register canister, and signed it.

About to push through a dense section.
I got set up and started on 40 meters. Forty and 30 didn't produce many contacts, but I got a large pileup on 20 that took a while to get through. I had decent cell service on top (Verizon), and was able to spot with ease.
Setup in a small clearing at the summit.
I had some trouble retracing my steps on the way down, but I made it back to the car. The ridge I was following was not as defined as I have gotten used to in California. It also seemed like the vegetation wanted to push me farther west than I wanted. Back at the car I took stock of my scratches and cuts, nothing too bad.
Not really any views from the top.

Trailhead: Height of land, Bear Notch Road.
Website: SOTA Site.
Route: Head up the ridge. Near the top there is a use path.
Red Tape: None.

Friday, September 21, 2018


After coming down from Mt Vaca I drove over to Pena Adobe Regional Park to get this summit. There seemed to be some sort of event going on, so I parked in the dirt lot near the bike trail. I didn't see any signs or places to pay, so I didn't.
Parking area from the trail.
I set off down the trail, which follows the road over to Lagoon Valley Park. I wasn't watching the map closely, so I missed a turn off. When I noticed, I decided to just take the scenic, roundabout route to the top.
Typical view in the park.
I climbed up a steep hill, then took the trail that followed the park boundary. Eventually it met up with the wide gravel road that runs to the summit. This road had many more people on it.
A recently burned area outside the park. Mt Diablo in the background.
There is a large tower and fence at the summit. I walked around to the shady side of the tower to set up. I had my amplifier for 2 meters, so I started there. I made some contacts, but not as many as on Mt Vaca, probably because of the lower elevation.
A benchmark from the Highway Department. I'd never seen one before.
After doing 2 meters I got on HF and made the rest of my contacts. I took a more direct route down, keeping a closer eye on my map.

Trailhead: Pena Adobe or Lagoon Park.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map.
Route: The most direct is the tower access road from Lagoon Park. Lots of other trails too.
Red Tape: None.
Looking back at the lagoon and Mt Vaca.

W6/NC-151 Mt Vaca

Mt Vaca is the high point of Solano County. It is also a great place for radio, so it is very easy to access. To get there, drive up Mix Canyon Road. I parked at the fork near the top, where the pavement ends, but any car should be able to drive farther.
Walking up the road.
The road goes over the north summit and by some of the many towers. There's a small col, then the climb up to the high point. I walked around the car gate and tagged the highest point.
Turkey Vulture modeling on the summit.
I then walked back down the road a short distance to an open area. I setup on the side of the road, and sat on one of the boulders. I had brought my new 2m amplifier, so I started there. I made quite a few contacts, including one up to near Chico. The dc-dc converter I was using to power everything was really noisy on HF, as I thought it would be, so I could only run a few watts on HF.

Looking north.
A few cars drove by, some with ham plates. I assume they were up to do maintenance on their repeaters and remote stations. Back at the car I drove down and over to get another peak before heading home.

Trailhead: I started at the end of the pavement, but you can drive up to the summit.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Walk up the road into the AZ.
Red Tape: None.