Tuesday, May 30, 2017

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.

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