Pt. 2000 Temecula, CA – SOTA Activation – W6/CT-221 – July 16, 2015

Operating Site

Operating Site

On relative short notice Bob (KB6CIO) joined me for a SOTA activation near Temecula, CA. It was extremely hot even during the early morning hours and propagation was not our friend. It was extremely difficult to make contacts but we finally managed to make a few.

The California drought conditions are really apparent in this area around Temecula and require an early activation time – even early is a relative term.

So this is just a short report with some views of Pt. 2000 (actually a hill next to it but within the activation zone) the actual summit is on private property.

Station Setup

Station Setup

Bob working chasers

Bob working chasers

Summit View

Summit View

View towards Temecula

View towards Temecula

More views

More views

Thanks to all the chasers for the QSOs despite the dreadful propagation conditions.

Date:16/Jul/2015  Summit:W6/CT-221 (Pt. 2000)  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
15:57z W0MNA 14MHz CW 14.061 MHz
15:58z W0ERI 14MHz CW
16:23z W7RV 7MHz CW 7.045 MHz
17:00z NA6MG 10MHz CW 10.110 MHz – very weak signal 222

73,

WN6E

“Top of the World” – SOTA Activation W6/SC-369 – April 8, 2015

“Top of the World” that’s the name of W6/SC-369 (Point 1036) above Laguna Beach, CA. The name is on signs at the parking area and the trail leading to the summit. The views are spectacular and this is a great summit to activate, relax and enjoy the view.

The “Top of the World” was my second activation using CW no phone mode at all not even FM. The last few days I kept going on my training software at 20WPM with over 90% results. Sounds great yeah, but means nothing, absolutely nothing!!

As mentioned before the real thing is the real thing and not software. I got stuck several times had to slow down, couldn’t copy, had brain blanking – you name it – everything the book has to offer for CW newbies. Thanks to all the chasers for their tremendous patience and their slowing down, repeating their calls and reports. My apologies for the ones I just could not copy especially at the end of the activation.

But no matter what I will keep going with CW on SOTA and in general – my microphone will not be used until I reach an acceptable speed in sending and receiving. Now that sounds scary …………

SOTA summit

SOTA summit

There is a problem with the SOTA database for this summit the referenced coordinates point to a residential area much lower than the actual summit. Just keep on walking to the “Top of the World”.

DSC_7309low

Equipment used

Antenna setup

Antenna setup

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

View towards Irvine, CA

View towards Irvine, CA

View of Santiago Peak

View of Santiago Peak

Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean

Summit

Summit

Mountain ranges from the summit

Mountain ranges from the summit

A thorny activation

A thorny activation

Summit meadow after a few hours of rain

Summit meadow after a few hours of rain

QSOs from the summit:

Date:08/Apr/2015 – Summit:W6/SC-369 (Pt. 1036)  – Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
08:58z NS7P 14MHz CW
09:03z NE4TN 14MHz CW
09:04z K8LWG 14MHz CW
09:05z K4MF 14MHz CW
09:10z N6JZT 14MHz CW
09:15z NA6EDE 14MHz CW
09:18z K6XM 14MHz CW
09:39z N4EX 21MHz CW
09:40z W0MNA 21MHz CW
09:41z W0ERI 21MHz CW
09:55z WA6ARA 7MHz CW

A great activation I had lots of fun thanks to all the chasers.

73,

WN6E    ditdit.

SOTA Activation of Signal Peak, CA – W6/SC-362 – April 3, 2015 – First time using CW as an activator

After a longer break due to a work assignment abroad I tackled Signal Peak, CA for an activation together with Bob KB6CIO. Signal Peak is relatively easy accessible, provides some shade in the current drought related situation in Southern California and allows for a shorter afternoon activation including “apres activation” coffee.

The last few month I have diligently followed my daily or almost daily CW training using computer and cellphone related software. So I decided to give CW a try for the Signal Peak activation. I prepared an old J-38 key purchased for a couple of dollars from ebay for my FT-817ND, installed a 500KHz CW filter (lucky I did) and “boldly went where I hadn’t gone before”.   Bob put out a spot for me and I started calling CQ on the 20m CW portion of the band – then reality kicked in.

Where do you put the key? My leg didn’t work the connection wire was to short, so much for diligently prepared, anyway I managed somehow on the ground. Then the first chasers came back to me some strong, some weaker in any case it was a little pileup causing an immediate brain fry with the bold activator. Quite a difference to whatever software related training you do. Each operator has his own CW signature plus a pileup situation I could not copy much at all. So I answered with a “?” and broke the key connection wire in due course. So no answer from the activator instead I was fumbling with the broken wire and completely blanked out. I could not copy anything.

It was good that I had to fix the wire connection that gave me time to put my act together. My apologies to the chasers trying to call me. When I could finally send again I repeated my CQ tried to relax (sure…….) and finally managed to copy something W0MNA (Gary from Kansas). Gary patiently repeated his call until I got it including RST exchange and ditdit. Next was W0ERI (Martha), NS7P and WA2USA. Four CW contacts  – I just activated Signal Hill using CW.

At that time I was mentally drained CW is not SSB, but CW it is definitely much more fun. I am hooked now – again thank you for all the chasers calling and my sincere apology for the ones I missed due to brain fry or broken wires.

Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake

Summit marker

Summit marker

Antenna farm near the peak

Antenna farm near the peak

Panorama view 360 degrees including Bob - KB6CIO and my fingertip

Panorama view 360 degrees including Bob – KB6CIO and my fingertip

Newport Beach and the Pacific Ocean

Newport Beach and the Pacific Ocean

Antenna setup right on the peak

Antenna setup right on the peak

Antenna

Antenna

Operating site

Operating site

Skeleton remains of a coyote meal

Skeleton remains of a coyote’s meal

Equipment setup

Equipment setup

On the way up to the hill I nearly stepped on a rattlesnake sunbathing on the trail – it was really close. Other incidences during the activation were severe transpiration caused by the sun and CW brain blanking, a broken antenna pole and broken morse key wires.

QSOs at this activation:

20m (CW): W0MNA, W0ERI, NS7P, WA2USA

12m (SSB): W0MNA, W0ERI

2m (FM): K6CMG

See you on the next summit.

73 WN6E ditdit

SOTA Activation of Sitton Peak, CA – W6/CT-172 – San Matteo Wilderness, CA – December 26, 2014

In an effort to fight the Christmas pounds which could accumulate and probably will anyway I decided to hike to Sitton Peak and do an activation.

Whether you want to do SOTA or just hike Sitton Peak is definitely worth the effort a magnificent hike with spectacular landscape and views. You hike through long stretches of old California oak forest, through valleys and over ridges with a final really steep trail to the summit. Its a 10 mile hike to the summit and back to the trailhead. Use the Ortega Highway from Orange County or Riverside County and park opposite at the Candy Store at the Cleveland National Forest parking lot. The trailhead of Bear Canyon Trail is just across the street.

Trailhead on Ortega Highway (74)

Trailhead on Ortega Highway at the Candy Store

Route taken to Sitton Peak

Route taken to Sitton Peak

Trail register

Trail register

IMG_3307

Hiking up Bear Canyon Trail from the Candy Store on Ortega Highway

San Matteo Wilderness sign

San Matteo Wilderness sign

Nice hike through oak forest

Nice hike through oak forest

Oak trees

Oak trees

Bear Canyon Trail with marker to Sitton Peak

Bear Canyon Trail with marker to Four Corners

Closed trail

Closed trail

Trail towards Four Corners intersection

Trail towards Four Corners intersection

View from the trail

View from the trail

Sitton Peak marker at Four Corners

Sitton Peak marker at Four Corners

Activator on the trail

Activator on the trail

Snow capped mountain ranges

Snow capped mountain ranges

Natural sculptures

Natural sculptures

Rough trail section

Rough trail section

The variations on the hike are incredible, exposed ridges, deep valleys and long stretches of oak forest. At the final intersection where the final ascent to Sitton Peak starts a water tank and the debris of a helicopter crash clearly indicate the trail to the summit. The last 0.25 miles up to the peak are rough, extremely steep but have incredible views to offer. From the mountains to the Pacific great views.

Water tank close to the final summit marker

Water tank close to the final summit marker

Debris at helicopter crash site

Debris at helicopter crash site

Summit trail

Summit trail

Equipment used for the activation

Equipment used for the activation

Summit benchmark

Summit benchmark

Summit views

Summit views

Orange county from the summit

Orange county from the summit

Operating conditions were not really good, signal strength and severe fading made it challenging to activate the summit. Thanks to Bob KB6CIO for spotting me and all the chasers who managed to get my weak signal.

Date:26/Dec/2014   Summit:W6/CT-172 (Sitton Peak)  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
19:07z AE9F 14MHz SSB 14,347.50 kHz
19:10z NS7P 14MHz SSB
19:23z N6JZT 24MHz SSB 24,950 kHz
19:24z KB6CIO 24MHz SSB
19:26z KI0G 24MHz SSB
19:26z N7ENL 24MHz SSB
19:27z N4EX 24MHz SSB
19:27z W0MNA 24MHz SSB
19:37z W1AW/3 21MHz SSB 21,270 KHz
19:47z N7NGO 14MHz SSB S2S 14,345.00 KHz

73,

WN6E

SOTA Activation of Bertha Peak, CA – W6/CT-054 on September 12, 2014

IMG_2759Trail to the summit at 6:45 in the morning

Bertha Peak via 3N09

Route to the summit via North Shore Dr. in Fawnskin (Big Bear Lake)

For the access to the summit I used the Forest Road 3N09 from the North Shore Drive in Fawnskin until the crossing with the Pacific Crest Trail. Shortly before the PCT there is a possibility to park. I followed the PCT until it intersects with the summit trail. On the way up I encountered some deer, actually I saw only one until I had a closer look at the photo I took. There were several deers – I just didn’t see them that’s what is called perfect camouflage. The hike to the summit is shaded most of the time and the views are spectacular. At the summit are several antenna installations and I set up my operation underneath some trees.

Bertha Peak

Final approach to the summit

IMG_2755

Deer on the trail

IMG_2758

Bertha Peak from the trail

IMG_2762

Summit trail

IMG_2773

Summit view

IMG_2776

Big bear lake from the operation site

IMG_2770Operation setup

The activation was a QRP operation 5W using a FT-817. The band conditions were not too good but I made some nice contacts on 40m, 20m and 15m. No CW this time I still struggle with copying and the fact that I have the problem of blanking out and can’t follow anymore. So I first have to improve this before I dare a CW activation. Made a S2S with N6MKW Mike operating from W6/SC-001 on 40m.

IMG_2788

On the trail

IMG_2791The trail is shaded by trees most of the time

IMG_2794Intersection of the summit trail and PCT

Date:12/Sep/2014  Summit:W6/CT-054 (Bertha Peak)  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
15:25z N6JZT 7MHz SSB 7.182 MHz
15:26z WA6RIC 7MHz SSB
15:27z W7RV 7MHz SSB
15:28z NA6MG 7MHz SSB
15:29z KN6CCW 7MHz SSB
15:30z K6HPX 7MHz SSB
15:31z KN6CCW 144MHz FM 146.52 MHz
15:40z WB5USB 14MHz SSB 14.3475 MHz
15:41z KI0SK 14MHz SSB
15:45z N6MKW 7MHz SSB 7.185 MHz S2S
15:51z KB6CIO 7MHz SSB 7.182 MHz
16:11z W0MNA 21MHz SSB 21.318 MHz

73,

WN6E

Activation of Butler Peak, CA (W6/CT-009) on September 2, 2014

IMG_2720Butler Peak from the access road

 

The activation of Butler Peak was planned as a longer stay on the summit while operating on HF, FM and a bit of CW. The access was supposed to be an approx. 7 mile drive on a forest road from Fawnskin and a short hike to the actual summit and firetower. The road was reported as open on the San Bernadino Forest homepage. It turned out it was not the gate was locked, due to logging as we found out later. So it was decided to go around and try a deviation through the surrounding valleys (3N16 forest road) and try to access the summit via 2N54 and 2N13.

This trip through the valleys turned out to be more than 20 miles with some extreme 4×4 sections (beware of 2N54 especially) including two creek crossings. In any case we made it to the summit three hours later than originally estimated. As mentioned before the original short access was closed due to logging operations, but these work required the gates to be opened along 2N13 and made it possible to reach the summit. There was no active logging during the trip – logging operations are otherwise an immediate stop and return for any hiker, 4×4, mountain biker etc.

IMG_2712Start of 3N16 towards Crab Flat campground

IMG_2715First creek crossing on 3N16

IMG_2717Crossing Crab Creek

Butler Peak UpThe route to the summit from Fawnskin

IMG_2719Approaching the summit

IMG_2721On the hike to the summit

IMG_2741Start of the summit trail

IMG_2740

View from the trail

 

IMG_2738

View from the summit

 

IMG_2734Another summit view

 

IMG_2730

Big Bear Lake

 

IMG_2726Summit view

Butler Peak DownRoute down to Green Valley

 

On the way down the route via Green Valley as recommended by several hikers we met on the way up worked out.  2N13 to Green Valley was open  without any locked gates. I had no huge desire to go down 2N54 again.

IMG_2749

2N13 down from Butler Peak

 

IMG_2746

Logging

 

IMG_2750

The “Locked Gate” which was open to Green Valley

 

IMG_2751Intersection of Green Valley Road and 2N13

 

On Butler Peak I made a short activation before heading back down to Green Valley. It is a pity that the “alternative route” to the summit took too much time and the time on the summit had to be cut shorter than expected.

Date:02/Sep/2014  Summit:W6/CT-009 (Butler Peak)  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
18:39z KK6HUB 144MHz FM  
18:06z K6QCB 144MHz FM 146.52 MHz
18:08z KW6ACK 144MHz FM  
18:12z KN6CCW 144MHz FM  
18:14z KJ6KHF 144MHz FM  
18:38z WA6YPE 144MHz FM  

73,

WN6E

 

 

SOTA Activation of Cleghorn Mountain (W6/CT-112) and Pt. 5699 (W6/CT-099) on August 25, 2014

Cleghorn Pt 5699Cleghorn Mountain and Pt. 5699 have one thing in common. They can be reached from the Highway 138 near the Silverlake State Park. But there the similarities end.

Cleghorn Mountain is around 7 miles from the trailhead (2N47) and only recommended for 4×4 vehicles. I manged to miss a turn and added a few miles to the access as you can see above in the map. The 2N47 leads close to the summit and there is space to park before you hike up to the summit. The trail was in bad shape and required some “hardcore” 4×4. The activation was short due to the additional miles on the missed turn.

IMG_2682

Silverlake from the 2N47

IMG_2677

Trailhead before dawn

IMG_2693

Cleghorn summit

IMG_2691

 

Summit register in red can

DSCN0474

2N47 the easy part

IMG_2688

Operating site on Cleghorn summit

IMG_2698View from Cleghorn Mountain (Intersection I-15 and I-215)

Pt. 5699 can be accessed via Highway 138 at the Cleghorn Rd. exit. Follow Cleghorn Rd. until it becomes a dirt road that’s where 2N49 starts. 2N49 curves around the mountain slopes and could be attempted with a high clearance street vehicle until 1 mile from the summit access. From there it is 4×4 until you reach the summit access trail close to a radio facility further down the trail. From 2N49 it is a rather steep hike up to the summit. The summit is covered with trees and is shaded and the trees provided much needed shelter from the extreme strong wind.

IMG_2697Start on 2N49

IMG_2701View from summit access Pt. 5699 towards radio facility

IMG_2702View to Silverlake

IMG_2707Summit impressions

IMG_2708Summit impressions (operating site Pt. 5699)

IMG_2710Operating site

IMG_2704Operating site setup

Pt. 5699 is a summit I will come back for another activation. The surroundings are just beautiful with lots of trees quite unusual for Southern California. Unfortunately we had to leave early due to unforeseeable circumstances and head back down.

Thanks to all the chasers and the QSos from both summits.

Date:25/Aug/2014  Summit:W6/CT-112 (Cleghorn Mtn.)  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
15:14z KN6CCW 144MHz FM
15:17z K6QCB 144MHz FM
15:27z N7SP 14MHz SSB 14.285 MHz
15:28z W0MNA 14MHz SSB
15:30z W7QQ 14MHz SSB
15:32z KA5PVB 14MHz SSB

Date:25/Aug/2014  Summit:W6/CT-099 (Pt. 5699)  Call Used:WN6E
Time Call Band Mode Notes
19:08z K6QCB 144MHz FM 146.52 MHz
19:09z W6TOD 144MHz FM mobile near Barstow, CA
19:22z N7SP 14MHz SSB 14.285 MHz
19:24z W7RV 14MHz SSB
19:28z KN6CCW 14MHz SSB

73,

WN6E