Tuesday, January 31, 2017

W6/NC-406 Sulphur Springs Mountain

Sulphur Springs Mt is a small peak above Vallejo, and was the second one I did on a two summit activation day. There are two routes up, one starting at the highway, the other in a neighborhood. It is unclear what the parking situation is at the second trail head, so I started at the Park & Ride lot at the off ramp. KF7PXT describes the other route in his blog. The first half-mile or so is a paved sidewalk along Hiddenbrooke Parkway. After turning into the hills the trail makes its way over a few small hills before getting to the summit. There are a few towers at the top, but they looked like they could have used some maintenance. There was a reasonably flat open area to operate from. I didn't use this area, instead choosing to setup in some trees on the sunny side of the peak.
After putting out a spot I worked the pileup on 30, then jumped up to 2 meters I only had my whip antenna, so not many VHF contacts this time. The contest was still going on, so I handed out a few points on 20 as I worked my way down the band. In total I made 16 contacts. By then it was getting late, so I packed up and made it back to the car before the sun set. 

Trailhead: Just off I-80, small park & ride lot.
Website: SOTA Page
Maps: Bay Area Ridge TrailKB1KXL SOTA Hikes map
Route: Hiddenbrooke Trail all the way. Some steep sections. Trail is totally exposed. Copse at the top could provide shade while operating.
Red Tape: None, just don't park illegally


This unnamed peak is the highest point in the Lynch Canyon Open Space, east of American Canyon in the North Bay. This was the first summit I activated, out of two this day. I hiked up on a Saturday morning after a week of heavy rains, and the ground was soggy and muddy, especially in the valleys. Other than the mud, it was an easy hike up to the summit. I was pleasantly surprised to find a bench near the top, well within the activation zone.

I setup my pole and antenna, and was on the air. I made 13 contacts on 30 and 20 meters. There was a contest going on, so finding a clear frequency on 20 was a challenge. I had a nice chat with the first person to answer my CQ. After saying 73 I spotted myself and worked the small pileup. One op had a terrible fist that I couldn't understand at all. I feel bad for not working him, since he was so loud, but I couldn't even figure out the first letter of his call. I briefly tried VHF, but no one answered after a few calls and I was getting cold in the wind so I packed up and headed down. On the way down I slipped a few times, but didn't fall in the slick mud on the slopes. 

Looking West / South West from the summit

Trailhead: Just off of I-80, very easy to find. Reasonably sized parking lot with a pit toilet. $6/car.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes mapHere is the official one, and the Bay Area Ridge Trail also has one.
Route: A number of trails were closed due to the recent rains, so I took the Middle Valley Trail to the Prairie Ridge Trail up and down. This was not a difficult trail. The trail is mostly exposed, possibility for shade at the summit.
Red Tape: The park is closed, or fewer trails open when its wet out, so double check before you drive up.

I'm still here

I'm a terrible blogger because I don't post very often, but I'm going to make an effort to document more of the hikes I do.

In the year since I last posted I have gotten back into ham radio, and enjoy taking my portable setup into the hill to operate. I also discovered a program called Summits on the Air (SOTA) which has been driving me to go out more, and to new places that I otherwise wouldn't go to. My plan is to post trip reports about my SOTA hikes. I will also likely post other radio related things, such as projects I'm working on, thoughts about operating, etc. The weather is looking iffy this weekend, so it may be a while before more posts start appearing.