Monday, August 7, 2017

W6/CC-063 Mt Tamalpais

East Peak from West Peak.
After a discussion on the SOTA reflector about the correct summit of Mt Tam, I decided to go up and check it out. There are three summits on the ridge, East, Middle, and West. East and West are about the same height, close enough that different sources have different elevations. The correct SOTA peak is the West one, with the old military installation and current FAA radar on top.
Trailhead at Rock Springs.
I decided to start at the Rock Springs area. I hiked up past the amphitheater and up the Mountain Top Trail. This took me to the old military installation. All that is left is the foundations, but there are great views from this area. Crossing the area, I continued up the main road to the unofficial summit trail.
That's Barnabe Mountain, center right, and Point Reyes to the left. The ocean is covered in fog, of course.
At the high point of the road, there are pullouts on each side, and a trail that leads up to the summit.
From studying maps and aerial imagery I thought I would have to operate very close to the road, but it turns out that the trail runs up to the fence that surrounds the summit. Probably created from all the people who like to collect county high points. I walked along the fence to the east side of the summit, to try and get some help for my antenna, and found a flat area to setup. I had a good view to East Peak, and it looked like it was at the same elevation as where I was. Maybe someone with some surveying equipment could determine which peak is actually higher.
FAA radar dome at the top. This is about where the use trail reaches the fence.
There were some bushes that I was able to strap my pole to, and I was quickly on HF. I made a number of contacts on 30 and 20, including a summit-to-summit. I then got out the HT to see if I could make some contacts on 222 and 440. There was a contest going on, so I figured that people would be willing to work me even with a small antenna.
If only that table was on the other side of the fence.
I made three contacts on 70 cm and two on 1.25 meters, and one on 2 meters. The last one on 440 was with someone down near Fresno. He must have had a big yagi and some power. The hike down was quick, as hiking downhill usually is.

Trailhead: Rock Springs. Also can start at pullout near top for drive up experience, or farther down, such as at Pantoll or Stinson Beach for a strenuous hike.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map. I also took my Tom Harrison map.
Route: From Rock Spring, hike up past the amphitheater and take the Mountain Top Trail to the sub-peak. Make your way to the road, and hike up the road to the pullout near the summit, then follow the use trail to the fence. The road at the pullout is in the activation zone.
Red Tape: None. Don't try to cross the fence at the top.
West Point Inn, and the fog rolling through the Golden Gate.

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