Thursday, October 17, 2019

W6/SC-366 Dictionary Hill

Along with Mount Helix, Dictionary Hill is one of the easy peaks in San Diego. On the advice of Adam K6ARK I started at the trailhead at the end of Ivy St, on the north side of the hill. There was plenty of street parking on the hill. The trail starts behind two locked gates, but there were ways around them.
The trail was rather eroded.
It is about 0.4 miles to the summit from this trailhead. It was a quick hike, but quite hot. There are no trees or shade on the hill. The views from the top were decent, but it was pretty hazy. I used a small bush to hold my pole and got on the air.
Large fire ring at the summit. Looking south.
The bands didn't seem to be in very good condition, but I made plenty of contacts anyways. I was getting pretty hot, so I didn't spend too long on top.
More views.
Trailhead: End of Ivy Street.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Go around the gates, then follow the trail uphill to the summit.
Red Tape: None.

W6/SC-352 Mount Helix

Mount Helix is an easy drive up peak in San Diego. I stopped by on my way to the airport to kill some time before heading home. Your GPS can get you to the top, where there is a small lot with room for less than a dozen cars.
Looking over at Dictionary Hill
There is a paved path to the top on one side, and an amphitheater on the other. I walked around to the shady side, and found a small clearing to set up in. Adam K6ARK was on his way over, and arrived shortly after I started operating. He had made a tiny single lever paddle, so I had to try it out.
A joint activation.
The paddle was great to use, and I made lots of contacts. Adam didn't want to operate, so once I was done I packed up and we headed out.
Summit amphitheater.
Trailhead: Drive up.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map.
Route: There is only 1 trail to the summit.
Red Tape: None.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

W6/CC-026 Corte Madera Mountain

I had been in the area the previous week on Los Pinos Mountain, and decided I needed a break from the oppressive heat of Yuma. Corte Madera looked like a good choice, with cool temperatures at the trailhead and not too much vertical for my knee.
Up the trail.
 The mid-60's felt heavenly compared to the 90's in the desert as I started up the trail. There wasn't much space left in the pullout at the trailhead, but I managed to fit in. The first section of this trail is up a dirt driveway. Where it makes a sharp turn to the right, the trail becomes single track and starts up the hill.
Part way up, and finally had a view of the summit.
The trail is narrow, with plenty of poison oak in the shady areas, but is well traveled and easy to follow. In the pass between Corte Madera and Los Pinos it turns right and follows a dirt road for a short distance, before turning off and continuing as single track.
Los Pinos Mountain.
The views got better as I got higher. There were a few interesting rock formations, but mostly just chaparral. The trail ends at a view point above the cliffs. There was a group there when I arrived, so I just signed the log then backtracked a short distance to a large rock. I put up the antenna, and had excellent views sitting on the rock while operating.
Sitting rock, looking west.
I had good service on top, and had no trouble getting contacts. After working everyone on HF I decided to give VHF a try. On 2m I could hear N6AN up in the Verdugo Mountains, but he wasn't able to hear me. We had already worked each other on HF, so I wasn't too bummed I missed the summit-to-summit.
This was my favorite rock formation.
The run down was fast and fun. At the trailhead there was another group just about to start their hike. Even after the 7 miles, I was feeling very refreshed from the cool temperatures.

Trailhead: Corte Madera Trailhead. On Morena Stokes Valley Road Just after the sharp bend where it starts climbing steeply. If you have OHV abilities, you can drive over Los Pinos to the col and start there.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map.
Route: There is only 1 trail to the summit.
Red Tape: None.
Great views.

W7A/YU-148 Telegraph Ridge

It was the day of the Arizona 10pt summit-to-summit event. There were no 10 point summits near me, so I decided to just do a nearby Arizona peak. The best option appeared to be this peak, Telegraph Ridge. There are a lot of towers on top and a very nice access road.
The peak is visible from the trailhead.
The trailhead is at the end of the frontage road on the north side of the interstate. Google has a marker there. There is a large dirt lot with lots of parking. It was pretty warm already, but I was confident I had enough water to make it up and back safely.
Desert scene.
There are a number of trail and roads at the base, so be careful to take the one you want. I didn't, and had to bushwhack a little bit over to the proper trail. At the base of the climb there is a gate to keep the cars out, and the road turns to pavement. It is quite steep.
Looking back down the switchbacks.
By the time I got to the top I looked like I had just been in a rainstorm I was sweating so much. The ridge is quite narrow, but I found a spot between some towers that I could set up my antenna. I started on 40, hoping to get in on the summit-to-summit action. I quickly got a large pileup, including about half a dozen s2s contacts.
Top of the ridge, looking south.
The higher bands weren't as fruitful, but I still made some contacts. By this point I had drank most of my water, and decided to pack up and head back. I finished the water as I neared the car, then drank a bunch more from the bottle I had left there. Back at the hotel I turned up the air conditioning and cooled off.
I'm not sure what these plants are, but they were fun to look at.
Trailhead: Telegraph Pass Trailhead. End of the frontage road on the north side of the interstate.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Follow the vehicle access road to the summit.
Red Tape: None.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

W6/SD-435 Pilot Knob

The summer is not the best time for desert hiking, but I was tired of sitting around inside. I decided to wait until the evening for a hike, in the hopes that it would be cooler. I left the hotel and drove over to a BLM parking lot and camping area at the base of the peak.
Sunset from the parking lot.
The desert is rather flat around the peak, and I tried to decide the best route up as I walked over to the base of the hill. I picked a ridge that seemed to have a worn use trail going up, and started up. The ridge got steeper as I went, becoming class 2 in places.
Up the ridge.
Since the sun was setting, I was concerned that I'd have to come down it in the dark. I kept a lookout for other potential routes down. I got to the top of the ridge just before sunset, and accidentally went to the wrong peak. The ridge top was an easy traverse, so I got to the high point pretty quickly.
So beautiful.
 There is a cross and some other equipment on the summit. There was a pole that I put my antenna pole in. I got on the air and started calling CQ. I was in a bit of a rush, since I didn't want to be up there in the dark. I got 2 contacts on 40, then 1 on 30 before I decided I had to go. Climbing down small cliffs in the dark didn't sound fun.
Moments before the end of sunset.
I had spied a decent looking descent route on the way up, and lucky for me it turned out to be a good one. There was a wide, fire road type path with lots of switchbacks coming down, and I took it. It was just about too dark to see by the time I made it back to the car.
Looking towards Yuma.
Trailhead: BLM Pilot Knob Long Term Visitor Area. Just south of the freeway off of exit 164
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Pick one of the use trails and take it up to the top. The face north of the summit has a decent road/trail.
Red Tape: None.
New colors after the sun set.