Today Bob (KB6CIO) and I (WN6E) activated Occidental Peak, CA within the SOTA (Summits on the Air, http://www.sota.org.uk) program.
A SOTA activation is about amateur radio and hiking from small hills to major mountain, having fun and making contacts from the summit. Local or worldwide contacts depending on the propagation and luck.
Occidental Peak is in the San Gabriel Range and accessible via the Los Angeles Crest Highway and the Mount Wilson Road approx. 3.9 miles from the “Redbox” Ranger Station. At the access road to a major antenna (red you can’t miss it) along Mount Wilson Road you can park and tackle the hike. Just follow the fence of the antenna facility on the right side of the entrance gate. Where the fence ends is a helicopter pad located and at the wind flag the trail to Occidental Peak continues.
Wind flag at helicopter pad – here the trail continues
The trail is not very well marked and winds its way around a fake summit above the Mount Wilson Road towards Occidental Peak summit. Sometimes the trail is not more than a few feet away from the cliff down to the road, so caution is required. Most of the time the path stays below the ridge, just try to spot the way markers (stacked up rocks). On some occasions it goes up to the ridge and down again, offering some breathtaking views of Los Angeles and the surrounding mountains. After the final approach the summit offers some view of the Mount Wilson Observatory but is generally covered with trees and dense shrubs. A summit register in a red container is easy to spot.
Downtown Los Angeles
Taking our time we reached the summit of Occidental Peak after roughly an hour from our parking spot. After signing the summit register setting up to get on the air was the next thing to do. Our first contact was NA6MG (Dan) who spotted KB6CIO (Bob) which helped a lot.
Propagation was better than expected after the sun storm at the beginning of the week. Most of the contacts were on 20m and surprisingly on 12m. I made some 2m contacts but could not reach N6JZT for a “Summit to Summit” contact on nearby Mt. Lukens. Hal (N6JZT) was “full quieting” but could not hear me or Bob. Mt. Lukens is in line of sight to Occidental Peak which makes this a real weird phenomena.
Contacts during this activation:
Along the trail