Monday, April 3, 2017

W6/SC-213 Hawkins Peak

Hawkins Peak is the highest point in the High Peaks region of Pinnacles Nation Park. This area is worth coming to just to see the interesting formations and Condors. A few years ago I came with a group of friends as I describe here.
Tunnel on the way up.
On this trip I hiked up from the west side. From the parking lot take the Juniper Canyon Trail to the Tunnel Trail. Both of these trails have many switchbacks as they head up the steep canyon. If you're in shape, you can easily pass all of the out of shape hikers. If not, this will be a long climb. Head north a short distance from the top of the tunnel trail, then follow one of the paths the climbers have made to the highest area. This path leaves where the trail makes a sharp turn. Satellite views of the area show the herd path. The actual summit requires technical climbing, but my phone GPS showed that there were a number of areas in the activation zone that don't require technical skills to reach.
I operated from between the two rocks.
Once at the top I set up and got on HF. A small tree was kind enough to let me attach the pole to. I made only 10 contacts on the MTR bands (20/30/40). It was late enough that 20 meters had closed to the east coast, so no contacts there. I tried VHF, but had no success. There are a few trees, but you'll probably want to carry an antenna support. Last time I was here I saw many condors, but this time I saw none. This was disappointing, but there were a number of other birds to watch as I operated, including many turkey vultures.
Juniper Canyon.
If you have the time, hiking the High Peaks Trail is well worth the effort before heading down the mountain. My other post has lots of pictures, and a description of the route I took, starting from the east side of the park.
The tunnel goes through the base of the prominent rock.

Trailhead: West entrance of Pinnacles NP. Drive to the end of the road, and park. CA-146 is a narrow and windy road, not good for big vehicles. Also a number of routes starting from the East side of the park.
Website: SOTA Site
Maps: I like the Tom Harrison maps. You can get a low quality (not good enough for off-trail travel) map for free at the entrance. KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map
Route: From West side: Juniper Canyon Trail, Tunnel Trail, then follow climbers' paths. From the East side: consult a map. Many choices, including loops.
Red Tape: The area can be closed to protect nesting raptors.

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