Tuesday, May 30, 2017

W6/SC-155 Mt Bielawski

Mt Bielawski is along Skyline Drive in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is almost a drive up, and easy to get to from Castle Rock State Park. When I went on a Sunday afternoon, the Castle Rock lots were all full, so I continued up the road and parked on the side at the road closure (2017).
Road going past the summit.
From here it is about a quarter-mile walk up the hill on the west side of the road to get into the activation zone. There was a fence marking the edge of private property which I followed to the high point. Here I set up, lashing my pole to a fence post. There are a lot of trees here, and I could have gotten the antenna higher with a little effort. I had enough service to send out a spot, but it was not reliable. As I made three HF contacts, the mosquitoes started to attack. More calling didn't give any results, so I turned on the HT. There was a QSO going on between two stations, one on a Chabot 2 Benchmark, so I waited for them to finish then got my fourth contact with AB6SO. I think I have the most summit-to-summit contacts with that hill. The bugs were getting bad at this point, so I packed up and got moving.
Operating area.
To get here from the Castle Rock parking, you can walk along the road, or there is a trail on the east side which you take, then bushwhack up into the activation zone. Neither option is difficult. I recommend going when there aren't any mosquitoes, so not in the spring.

Trailhead: Castle Rock State Park.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes mapCastle Rock SP map
Route: Follow the road, then hike up into the A.Z.
Red Tape: None. Castle Rock lot fills up and it can be hard to find parking. Go early to avoid this, or park far away and hike in.

W6/NC-265 Table Mountain

Table Mountain is a low hill on the east side of the Santa Cruz Mountains that run up the peninsula. From the summit there are views of San Jose and the South Bay. I hiked up Sunday afternoon. The best trailhead is at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga. Make sure the winery is open, and there is no concert going on if you go. Drive up to the parking lots, then continue straight, uphill. Park in the last, highest lot.
Parking lot from the trailhead.
There is a dirt road that continues up on the other side of the cattle guard. There are a few junctions, and taking the choice that goes uphill is the correct one at each junction.
Start of the trail. Go left.
Where the power lines cross the trail, go around the gate in the trail. After this point the trail becomes more overgrown. I saw some bike tracks in the dirt, so mountain bikers must come through occasionally. There are some sections through trees, providing some nice shade on a warm afternoon. The road climbs up to a false summit which is outside of the activation zone. Continue up to the true summit. The hike is just over a mile, with about 700 feet elevation gain. There is a small clearing at the highest point, or just before it there is a much larger open area. This is where I set up my doublet.
Not too much haze in the valley. Mt Hamilton observatory was easily visible.
There are a number of trees that could be use to hold up your antenna if you don't want to bring a pole. As I was setting up I realized that I had forgotten my BNC to binding post adapter. I was able to jam one side of the doublet into the center of the connector on my T1 tuner, and attache the other side to the ground post. The tuner did its thing and I was on the air. Stations seemed weaker than normal, but this could have just been the propagation. I'm not sure if this setup is electrically different than my usual set up. I'll have to pull out the schematic and see.
The WPX contest was still going on, so I stayed on 30 meters. After self-spotting and sending out a few CQs I worked four stations. I called for a few more minutes, but didn't get any responses. I then tried VHF, 2 meters, 220, and 440, but only got one contact on 2. I really don't like manually calling CQ, so I gave up after this contact and headed back to the car and over to Mt Bielewski.

Trailhead: Highest parking lot at Mountain Winery. This lot is gravel, not paved.
Website: SOTA SiteMountain Winery Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Take the dirt road to the summit. At junctions, go uphill.
Red Tape: Winery must be open to access trailhead. Parking fee (and probably very limited parking) if there is a concert that day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

W6/CT-167

This unnamed peak is on the northern border of the Angeles National Forest, and depending on how you read the map, the true highest point might be on private land. This is not a problem for SOTA activators, however, since a good part of the summit and activation zone is on public land. Like the other activators, I parked at the locked white gate just before Aliso Arrastre Cutoff on Aliso Canyon Road. From here, head up and follow the ridge to the summit.
Forest boundary post.
This is not quite a straight shot, there are a few turns and the true summit is hidden behind a ridge. A map is helpful for navigation here. My hike up was relatively uneventful. I set up near the post, and got my four contacts on 20 and 30 meters. By now it was getting to be lunch time, and I hadn't brought much food, so I headed down. I thought I'd be clever and contour around the sub-peak, but wasn't watching carefully and nearly went down the wrong side of the mountain. Luckily I caught myself before I got too far, and turned around. I then decided to contour around some more until I got back to the ridge I wanted to be on, rather than climbing up to the top of the ridge. This was an adventure, walking across the steep, slippery slopes, but I made it without any issues. It was a relief to see the car again, and know I had followed the right path down.
Looking back at Parker Mountain.

Trailhead: Aliso Canyon Road, just north of Aliso Arrastre Cutoff. Locked white gate, large pullout for parking past gate.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map.
Route: See the map. Follow the ridge near the road up to the summit.
Red Tape: None.

W6/CT-153 Parker Mountain

Parker Mountain is an easy summits on the air peak not to far from the Antelope Valley Freeway. There is a road to the summit, but you'd need an off-road vehicle to make it up. The trailhead is at the height of land on the unpaved Hughet Pin Road, off of Hubbard Road. There is a small pullout just before the top where I parked.
Parking, from the beginning of the road/trail.
I crossed the street and headed up the hill. The road follows the ridge to the top of the mountain. Near the top you have the choice of going straight up, or following the road around on a more gentle path. I'd recommend staying on the road. On top there are two tree, an old concrete platform, and excellent views of the area. I setup on the platform, as it was flat and convenient. It was very windy, and I had to put some rocks on the stabilizing feet of my antenna so that it wouldn't blow over onto me.
Nice place to operate from, with views.
There was very good cell coverage up here, so I sent out a spot and started calling CQ. I didn't get many responses, but I was able to get the four needed for a successful activation. I packed up before I got blown away, and headed down to go climb W6/CT-167, nearby in the Angeles National Forest.

Trailhead: Height of land, Hughet Pin Road. Escondido Canyon Road -> Hubbard Rd -> L on Hughet Pin Rd.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Take the dirt road to the summit.
Red Tape: None.
Looking down on Acton.

W6/CT-246 Mt Lewis

Mt Lewis was the final peak of the day, after Mt Baden-Powell and Throop Peak. It is on the other side of the highway from the other two, but the trailhead is at Dawson Saddle. There is a faint use trail that leaves from the corner of the building. There is a quick switchback, then it climbs up the side of the ridge. It is fairly steep but short climb.
Mt Lewis summit.
The top is a large, flat, open area. There are some views through the trees, which would make great antenna supports. This would also be a nice summit to spend the night at. I found a flat area and set up. The ground was softer than usual because of all the pine needles blanketing the ground. Like the two previous peaks, there was no cell coverage. My CQs on 20 resulted in only one QSO, so I figured it was late enough in the day to give 40 a try. I got three more here. I was no longer in a rush, so I called on 30 meters for a few minutes and was rewarded with a number of stations, enough to qualify the peak again. All of the contacts on this peak make me think that my difficulty earlier was because many chasers were still at work, and by the late afternoon or evening they had returned home.
A beautiful summit.
The sun was getting low, and I was getting hungry, so I decided to pack up at this point and return to civilization for some food. The hike down was quick, and the drive down CA 2 was pleasant. I kept an eye out for thru hikers, in case one needed a ride into Wrightwood.


Trailhead: Dawson Saddle, Angeles Crest Highway.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map.
Route: From the corner of the building in the saddle, follow the faint trail up to the summit. It generally stays on the east side of the ridge. There may be a trail on the ridge, but I did not explore.
Red Tape: None.

Monday, May 22, 2017

W6/CT-005 Throop Peak

This was my second peak of the day, between Mt Baden-Powell and Mt Lewis. This mountain is named after Amos Throop who founded CalTech. I walked over from Baden-Powell, retracing my steps along the ridge. The hike was uneventful, although I did pass a thru hiker, which was surprising. Usually they are hiking machines. A little past the junction with the Dawson Saddle trail, leave the PCT and follow the use trail up to the summit. It is faint in places, but easy to follow.
Looking back at Mt Baden-Powell.
The summit is mostly covered by low, scrubby plants, but there are bare areas to setup in. I assembled my antenna and was on the air. My CQs on 20 meters were quickly answered, and I quickly worked six chasers. There was still time, and my batteries still had power, so I decided to pack up and attempt another peak. The hike back to Dawson Saddle was quick. The snow fields I had crossed on the way up were much softer, but I was still able to safely cross.
Enjoying the sun.

Trailhead: Dawson Saddle, Angeles Crest Highway.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Follow the trail that runs up the spur to the junction with the PCT. Turn left, northbound on the PCT and follow the trail a few hundred yards. There was a small cairn where the PCT contoured around the peak and a use trail headed for the summit. Follow this use trail up the ridge to the summit.
Red Tape: None.
A ladybug enjoying some CW with me.

W6/CT-004 Mt Baden Powell

Baden-Powell was the first of three SOTA peaks I climbed from the Dawson Saddle trailhead, the other two were Throop Peak and Mt Lewis. As an Eagle Scout I felt that I should climb this peak while I had the chance. I parked in the pullout just before the maintenance shed, and found the trail across the road. The first section is steep, but once you get to the ridge it mellows out.
Mt Throop.
There were still some snow fields at higher elevations, but nothing too difficult to get across. The PCT hikers this year will have a lot more to deal with in the Sierra. It took me about 30 minutes to get to the ridge, where I turned right and followed it to the summit of Baden-Powell. I passed many thru-hikers, and talked to a few of them. If I had planned better, I would have brought some food to share with them. About an hour later I was on the summit. The last climb was a bit slower than normal because of the thin air at the elevation. It was windy, so I found some trees to set up behind. I've been doing so many activations with my mag loop I'm getting fast at setting it up.
Fog rolling in from the coast. It was nice to be above it.
I called CQ on 20 meters and hoped that RBNHole would spot me. There was no cell service at the top for self-spotting. I called for a while, and didn't get any responses. I had no way of knowing if this was because it was Wednesday morning or my signal wasn't getting out. Eventually I got three contacts. I then tried 30 and 17 meters, but had no luck. After switching back to 20 meters I finally got my last contact. It was getting chilly with the wind, so I packed up and headed back down the ridge to get Throop Peak.
Trail junction on the way up.

Trailhead: Dawson Saddle, Angeles Crest Highway.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Follow the trail that runs up the spur to the junction with the PCT. Turn right, (east/north-east) and follow the trail along the ridge to the summit.
Red Tape: None.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

W6/CT-132 Granite Benchmark

Granite Benchmark is a peak near Bouquet Reservoir, with some high voltage power lines running across the summit. I hiked it one windy Sunday morning. From the height of land on Bouquet Canyon Road, head up the dirt road to the north. There is a big sign marking the border of Forest Service land by the road.
Reservoir from the trail.
After heading up about 350' and a few switchbacks, turn off the road and follow the ridge to the summit. The FS map shows a road/trail, but there is not one. The brush is sparse enough that it is easy to follow the crest of the ridge up to the top. I was expecting to see something to follow, so I walked past the ridge with the road marked, and took the next one to the top. I took the shorter one on the way down. See the caltopo map at the bottom.
At the top, cross under the power lines to get to the highest point. I set up on the dirt road by one of the pylons, somewhat out of the wind. I had a good cell signal on top, so I was able to spot myself whenever I QSYed. I made six contacts on 20 meters, and three on 17.
Power lines running down the ridge.
I was worried that there would be a lot of power line noise, but either my mag loop didn't pick it up, or the KX3 filtered it out because I had no trouble hearing and working the activators. I'm not sure which piece should get the credit for this.
The benchmark.
The trip back to the car was uneventful. I stopped for a minute to watch some crows playing in the wind blowing over the ridge. It looked like fun for them.

Trailhead from across the road.
Trailhead: Height of land, Bouquet Canyon Road. Labeled "Lincoln Crest" on the FS maps. Big sign marking boundary of FS land.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Follow the dirt road on the north side of Bouquet Canyon Road. Leave the road and follow the crest of the ridge up to the summit.
Red Tape: None.

W6/CT-140 Jupiter Mountain

Jupiter Mountain is a short ridge that overlooks the Bouquet Reservoir. The trail leaves from the height of land on Spunky Canyon Road, across the street from Spunky Edison Canyon Road. There are two options to get to the top, straight up the dirt road, or more gently up on the trail. I would recommend the trail.
The (very full) reservoir.
Turn right at the junction, and follow the trail up the side of the mountain to the ridge line. Here turn left and climb up to the peak. The trail is well graded, but there are some steep sections on top of the ridge. At the top there is a bench, a perfect place to set up and operate. I quickly got set up and called CQ on 20 meters. I did not have a data signal, but RBNHole spotted me quickly. I got a small pileup, and worked 16 stations. After I had worked them, and was calling CQ a few more times, KS0S started calling for the SKCC WES on the frequency I had been using, and ignored my calls back to him. What a lid. Makes me glad I'm not a SKCC member. He was also QSD, for a while I thought his call was OS0S. Since I had enough contacts, and it was getting cold in the wind, I packed up and headed down.
I took the short way down, and it was very steep. Probably would have been quicker to go back the way I came. Overall, a very pleasant hike and a nice little summits on the air peak.

Trailhead: Height of land, Spunky Canyon Road, across the street from Spunky Edison Canyon Road.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Turn right, and take the trail up to the ridge. Turn left on the ridge and follow the path to the summit. Or, follow the very steep dirt road up to the top.
Red Tape: None.

W6/CT-021 Vetter Mountain

Vetter Mountain was my third summit on this beautiful SOTA Saturday, after Strawberry Peak and Mt Lawlor. I parked at Charlton Flats, near the highway. I had hoped to drive up farther, but the gate was locked, so I walked the two miles to the summit.
On the way up.
 The "trail" is a paved road, that looks like it is unmaintained. Two cars did pass me on the way up, so there is some way to get through the gate. The hike up is about two miles from the Angeles Crest Highway, and it took me about 40 minutes to the top. As I approached the top I heard a helicopter that sounded close. On the other side of the mountain, one was hovering over a flat area on a ridge. Eventually I saw it lift a person up and fly away. Not sure what was going on. There is a bunch of stuff at the top, including the foundation of a fire lookout tower that burned down. I set up on the foundation, as it was flat and at the high point.
What a view.
There is an old flagpole next to the road that still has a rope and clips, and this could be a great way to get an antenna in the air. I made nine contacts, four on 20 and 17, and one on 40 meters. I called on 15 to see if there was any DX, but didn't have any luck. At one point a snake crawled into the foundation near my feet, and I'm glad it didn't pop out near me. After I had finished calling, I packed up and headed home after a great day in the mountains.
Helicopter doing its thing.

Trailhead: Charlton Flat Day Use Area, Angeles Crest Highway.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Follow the road and wood signs up to the top. Avoid the Poodle Dog Bush growing along the sides of the road.
Red Tape: Adventure pass needed for parking.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

W6/CT-089 Mt Lawlor

I climbed Mt Lawlor from Strawberry Peak, which is northwest along the same ridge. The best way to get up the peak is from the Strawberry/Lawlor Saddle, from Red Box Gap. From the saddle, I climbed up the ridge. There were a few steep sections, but they were short. It took me about an hour to hike over from Strawberry Peak.
At the top, getting ready to set up.
There is a flat, open area at the top. There are some low trees that could be used for antenna supports, so a pole might not be necessary for your dipole. I reapplied sunscreen, then had a snack before setting up. I had a few moments of 3G (verizon), long enough to send out a spot. I'm not sure where the chasers were, because I only made the required four contacts. After calling for a few minutes more I decided to save my batteries and head down.
Down!
This is where I made the mistake of going straight down the ridge, instead of retracing my steps. The first problem was getting attacked by some yuccas, through my pants.
Danger! Danger!
The second was that the way down was extremely steep. Very steep. I would not go up or down this route. There were some old phone poles, and some wire, so there must have been a lookout or something on top at one point. I eventually made it back to the trail, and followed it back to Red Box Gap where I refilled on water and headed up to Vetter Mountain.

Trailhead: Red Box Gap, Angeles Crest Highway.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map. Includes loop over Strawberry Peak.
Route: Cross the highway, and follow the dirt path. It switchbacks up to a small saddle, then continues up across the side of the mountain to the Strawberry/Lawlor Saddle. Follow the ridge up from the saddle to the summit.
Red Tape: Adventure pass needed for parking.

W6/CT-018 Strawberry Peak

What a beautiful day to be out in the woods. I left early, and took the Angeles Forest Highway to the Crest Highway. I stopped at Switzer Visitor Center to buy a day pass, so I wouldn't get another ticket, then continued to Red Box Gap. Not sure why it is called that. My first destination was the SOTA summit Strawberry Peak. N6JZT says it is called that because it looks like an upside-down strawberry, but I don't see it.
Clouds in the valley.
As the other activators described, I followed the trail up across the side of Mt. Lawlor to the saddle, where I turned off and headed up the ridge. There were a fair number of other hikers out, but as I'm not from the region, I'm not sure if it was a normal amount for a Saturday morning. I think I could see downtown LA, but I'm not sure. It was hazy, and I didn't have a large area map.
Beautiful scenery.
 It took me about 1.5 hours from parking lot to summit. There were some people on the highest summit, so I went back to the second summit to set up. I tried to point my antenna to the northeast, just in case I could work an EU station, because it was NA<>EU S2S day. I didn't hear any Europeans, which is what I expected.
The perfect rock formation: one for sitting, one for the mag loop.
There was no cell signal on top, but RBNHole quickly spotted me and generated a small pileup. I quickly worked six stations on 20 meters, then packed up to go activate some more peaks. The hike back to the saddle was quick, but somewhat difficult because my hiking shoes have no tread left. I should have bought a new pair weeks ago, but I'm good at procrastinating. I also managed to stab my hand on a yucca, not something I'd recommend.


Trailhead: Red Box Gap, Angeles Crest Highway.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map. Includes loop over Mt. Lawlor.
Route: Cross the highway, and follow the dirt path. It switchbacks up to a small saddle, then continues up across the side of the mountain to the Strawberry/Lawlor Saddle. Follow the ridge up from the saddle to the summit.
Red Tape: Adventure pass needed for parking.

I'm having fun, even if it looks like a grimace.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

W6/CT-014 Kratke Ridge

After climbing Waterman Mountain I headed over to Kratke Ridge. This peak is only a few hundred feet above the highway and an easy hike, if you go the right way. I parked in a pullout across the street from the base of the chairlift. At the base there is a dirt road which goes to the top. I didn't know this, so I went straight up the hill, following the chairlift. This was a mistake. It was very steep, and unpleasant to go up.
Top of the chairlift.
At the top is the building where the chairlift ends. The summit is a short distance up the hill behind the building. Again, I set up on the lee side of the hill to try and stay out of the wind. I started operating on 20 meters, and got seven QSOs there. I tried calling on 17 and 30, but no answers on either band. I got three on 40 meters. I then spent about an hour calling on 15 meters hoping to get some dx, but only got a few domestic stations. In the past I've gotten ZL on 15 in the afternoon from Southern California summits. As I was operating, Oleh, KD7WPJ, arrived on the summit. He set up a short distance away, and we were able to operate without causing interference to each other. I took the access road down to the highway, and had a pleasant walk down, unlike the way up.
Ready to go.
Afterwards Oleh emailed me with the data from RBN spots. They showed that the signal strength from his dipole and my mag loop were about the same. We were both running 1.5-2.5 watts, but our antennas had their main lobes oriented 90 degrees from each other. This was not a scientific comparison, but it was interesting to know that the mag loop isn't too bad.


Trailhead: Angeles Crest Highway at Snowcrest Ski Area
Website: SOTA Site. Lots of more detailed trip reports.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map. Zoom in on the area.
Route: Access road. From the base of the chair lift, follow the road to the right. This climbs the hill with a few switchbacks, and ends at the top of the lift. From here, just hike uphill to the summit. Note that the road is not shown on maps.
Red Tape: Adventure pass needed for parking.

Obligatory selfie.

W6/CT-012 Waterman Mountain

It was a beautiful Friday, which means it was time to go hiking. This time I headed up to the Angeles Crest Highway to activate Waterman Mountain and Kratke Ridge. First up was Waterman Mounatain. I parked at the Buckhorn Flat Day Use Area and hit the trail. I found the road and trail junction, but misread my map and turned right instead of left. This led back to my car, and not uphill. I retraced my steps, and headed up the trail in the correct direction. Later analysis showed that the trailhead does not match what is shown on the map, but it was close enough I should have been able to figure it out.
View on the way up. Mt Hamilton Observatory.
There is a seasonal stream that the trail crosses, and it still had water in it. Hiking up felt like I was in the Sierra, and it was a pleasant walk up to the summit. At the top I poked around the rocks for a few minutes before finding a place to set up. There was a nice rock to sit on on the lee side of the hill, so it wasn't so cold. I set up, then had an apple. There was no cell signal, so no self-spotting. I called on 20 meters, RBNHole spotted me, and I quickly worked 12 people, including one summit-to-summit with KX0R in Colorado. I was planning a second summit, so I didn't spend time on other bands, wanting to save some battery for later. I'm still not sure how long the internal KX3 batteries will last.
Top of a ski lift.
The way down was pleasant, with no navigational errors. At one switchback the trail passes the top of an old ski lift. No skiers this time of the year. Overall this was a very nice hike.

Trailhead: Angeles Crest Highway at Buckhorn Flat.
Website: SOTA Site. Lots of more detailed trip reports.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map. Zoom in on the area.
Route: Waterman Mountain Loop Trail.
Red Tape: Adventure pass needed for parking.

W6/CT-145 Tule Ridge

I had some time to kill one afternoon, so I picked out a peak to go activate. Tule Ridge didn't look to hard, so I packed up the radio kit and headed out. The trailhead is a pullout just south of Green Valley, by the city limit sign and flashing speed limit light. From here I crossed the main road to the dirt access road. After the first turnoff there is a trail sign, and here I turned and headed up the ridge. There is an old fire break or bike path running along the ridge, and it is quite easy to follow. There are some sections, however, that are much steeper than appeared on the map. They were unpleasant to go up, but not as bad going down as I feared they would be.
Turnout where I parked.
Sign at the start of the trail.
As you hike up there are great views of San Francisquito Canyon and South Portal Canyon. Near the top I could see Bouquet Reservoir. There are some flat areas at the top with space between the grass and other plants, and I had views while I sat and operated. It took me a little over an hour to hike up.
Ready to go.
There are no trees at the top, so bring your own antenna support. My verizon phone had OK 3G service, so I was able to send out spots. I started on 20 meters, and made five contacts. I spent a while calling an 15 meters, and a ZL responded, but he didn't come back after I sent him a signal report. Too bad. I made a few more contacts on 30 and 40, then had to pack up and head back.
Green Valley and my parking spot.
As I was leaving the summit, I missed the turn down the way I came up and nearly headed down the wrong side of the mountain. Luckily I realized my mistake before I had lost too much elevation. Other than that, it was a quick trip down, then an easy drive back to the hotel. I am surprised that I'm only the second person to activate this peak. It is not a difficult hike or drive, and it is 4 points, well worth the effort.


Trailhead: San Francisquito Canyon Road, south of Green Valley. Pullout is not marked on USFS map, but easy to see in satellite view.
Website: SOTA Site
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map. Zoom in on the area.
Route: I followed the east ridge to the top. See the caltopo map above.
Red Tape: None.
On top of Tule Ridge.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

W6/CT-262

I climbed this peak immediately after climbing W6/CT-144, just to the north. From the same starting area I climbed up the North East ridge of the mountain, trying to skirt around the false peaks on the way up.
From the road at the start.
The hike felt short, even going straight up the hills. I find that it is less tiring to go straight up hills rather than walking up at an angle. Walking with one leg higher than the other gets very tiring. Once I got to the sub-peak it got much less steep, and the walk across the ridge was quick and easy. On my way up to the top I passed a large flat rock that looked like it would make a good operating position. After checking out the summit, I headed down a few feet to set up on the rock.
QRV at the operating position.
It got cloudy as I sat on the summit, but the higher mountains to the south wrung the rain out of the clouds and I stayed dry. I had good views all around, and a pleasant time. Again, I started on 20 meters, then moved up to 17 when I had worked everyone. I tried sideband on 20 and 15 meters, but got no takers even after self-spotting. I still had some battery left, so I turned down the power to 1.5 watts and called CQ on 15 meters. I got a S2S with KT0A, then KP4RV was able to pull me out of the noise from Puerto Rico. Despite being at the bottom of the solar cycle, 15 still seems to be open to somewhere if you spend some time calling. 17 meters also seems to be in decent shape, and I should finish my 1watter kit so I can take it out and get on the band more often.
Rain clouds from the summit.
By this time the NiMH batteries in the KX3 were almost out, so I packed up and headed for the car. I followed the ridge back to the sub-peak, then walked straight to the car. It was a quick hike down, and back to the main road. This was the fifth activation I've done with the KX3, and it seems that the batteries last long enough for at least 2 activations. This makes me wonder if I should buy a big battery to power it. It could be helpful if I want to do more sideband, but CW with 1-3 watts seems to work just fine.


Trailhead: BPL road. I wanted to go to where there is a power pylon next to the road at a sharp corner, but there was a gate, so I started there.
Website: SOTA Site
Maps: Caltopokb1kxl SOTA Hikes map. Zoom in on the area.
Route: I took the northeast ridge to the top. See the caltopo map above.
Red Tape: None. There are signs indicating that the road can be closed, but there are no "No Trespassing" signs.

Monday, May 8, 2017

W6/CT-144

The weather was looking good this morning so I decided to head out and do some more activations. There were two nearby peaks that could both be climbed from the same trailhead, so I headed over to climb them. The first was CT-144, a nameless peak at the north edge of the San Gabriel National Forest. On the map there appeared to be a good place to park near a power pylon, but I encountered a locked gate. I managed to turn around on the road, and parked on the side. I followed the road to the place where I wanted to start, then left the road.
My destination.
I followed the south west ridge up to the top. The ground cover is lots of little scrubby plants, and it was easy to make my way through them. Some of the steeper sections were slippery with loose sand, but I had no trouble getting to the top. I think that this route is shorter and better than the one described by N6JZT that comes up from the west side of the mountain. As I've started to do more off-trail hikes, I find that there is a sense of freedom that comes with bushwhacking, and the hikes today were almost totally off trail.
At the top there is an old sign post, a good place to lash a pole. I found a place to sit with views of Mt Emma, and set up. There were a lot of ants crawling around near by, but they didn't bother me. Thank goodness. I remembered the feet for the loop, so it was a snap to set it up. I had trouble tuning the antenna on 30 meters, so I gave up and went up to 20 where the tuning is less sharp. I was able to get it down to around 2:1 SWR, so I self-spotted and called CQ. The usual suspects were loud and clear; NS7P, W0MNA, and W0ERI made it into the log first.
Mt Emma from my operating position.
After working the pileup on 20 I decided to try out 17 meters since it had saved me yesterday. I gave a call, and was able to work two stations. Since it was still early, I decided to save some battery for another peak, so I packed up and headed down. I was going to take the same ridge down, but there was an open area leading down to the dry stream bed, so I went down that way instead. Down was very fast, and I was soon back at the road and ready to head up W6/CT-262.
Old posts at the summit.

Trailhead: BPL road. I wanted to go to where there is a power pylon next to the road at a sharp corner, but there was a gate, so I started there.
Website: SOTA Site
Maps: Caltopokb1kxl SOTA Hikes map. Zoom in on the area.
Route: I followed the South West ridge up to the top, then followed the dry stream bed east of the ridge back to the road. See the kb1kxl sota map on caltopo.
Red Tape: None. There are signs indicating that the road can be closed, but there are no "No Trespassing" signs.