I was in the area to attend the Experimental Music Festival in Wonder Valley and thought a SOTA activation would be a nice addition to my weekend plans. Ryan Mountain is inside Joshua Tree National Park, and not too far from the north entrance, which, wasn’t too far from the music venue. The hike is about 3 miles round trip, and a bit over 1,000′ in elevation gain, however the scorching February sun made it feel a bit longer. At the top I found a place away from others and setup my vertical antenna with an MTR4B. After a few questions on why I have a fishing pole in the desert, I started operating on 40M CW but didn’t get any QSOs., and only two on 30M. When I moved to 20M, I ended up with a small pileup with one DX call from Japan.
This blog is run using a cheap VPS with legacy equipment and recently, the vender announced they are shutting down the datacenter this VPS exists in. As such, I’m migrating to a new VPS machine. This is the first post on the new install. Hello World!
Temple Hill is another easy costal summit. This was my second activation of the day, having just come from Niguel Hill, W6/SC-371. I believe this summit is a reservoir tank, and the actual, real summit is the parking lot/ playground. It’s less than 10 minutes to hike up to the highpoint from the parking lot. Up top, I found a good spot to setup away from others, as the area was pretty busy. Worked 20M, 30M, and 40M. Two S2S.
Niguel Hill is probably the easiest SOTA activation I’ve ever done. Grab some street parking on Talavera Drive, then walk on a flat path for 5 minutes to one of the picnic tables along the path. I setup my antenna and worked 20M, 30M, and 40M. The trail was pretty busy and I received a lot of weird looks, and several questions about my fishing pole. After an hour or so I packed up and headed over to Temple Hill, W6/SC-369.
There is something about the summits along the 14 and into Palmdale which I really like, but to date, Harold Beacon Benchmark is probably my favorite because of all the flora and fauna. I parked my car on Rebel road and started hiking, first, down a dirt road which wasn’t so bad, then, to a steep moto track which goes straight up the hillside. This side of the hill was covered in Juniper. The end of the trail meets up with a fire road, which leads up to the summit. There are several different types of trees up here with several kinds of birds I couldn’t identify. At the top, there were three benchmarks of various vintage, and evidence of an old tower. I wonder if that was the beacon? I setup my station using an EFHW cut for higher bands. Worked 12M, 17M, and 30M CW. 4 S2S. I hiked down the way I came, although it seems like there are several ways up and down. I’ll look forward to activating this peak again.
I parked on Escondido Canyon Road, then hiked through a parcel which has a “For Sale” sign in front. I kinda felt like I was being watched by the neighboring houses, but once I was out of sight the hike was enjoyable. There is an established trail so it seems this summit is hiked often. The hike itself it pretty short, just over a mile and about 600′ of elevation gain. At the top, there is a large pile of rocks which I used to support the antenna mast. It also offered some shade from the sun, which felt brutal, even in February. Worked 20M, 30M, and 40M CW.
I had a couple days off work without any real plans, so off to Agua Dulce! I parked just off the 14 and hiked down a dirt road where I was met with a “Keep Off” sign. At this point I almost turned around, but decided to go past the sign as there were several foot prints and dirt bike tracks all over the place, so it was clear people use this area for recreation. I continued on the dirt road until it ended at a set of power line pylons, then turned south and headed along the ridge line firebreak. The wind was incredibly strong, and at one point almost knocked me over! One false summit with benchmarks along the way. At the real summit, I found additional benchmarks and a summit register. I was able to setup the station just below the ridge which kept me out of the wind. Worked 30M and 40M, one S2S.
This was my last summit of three activated for the day. With the sun setting and the wind still somewhat annoying, I didn’t setup the HF station. Instead, I used my Icom 4 band HT and spotted myself on 1.2GHz, 6M and 70cm. No contacts on any of those bands. Finally, I moved to 2M and made enough contacts to activate the summit. Sitting just below the grade of the towers seems to help the HT cope with the high levels of RF. The hike up and down was short and lovely. I made a wrong turn and had to backtrack a bit, but didn’t mind the extra distance.
This was my second planned summit of the day, having activated W6/CT-240 earlier. I parked somewhere in a pretty affluent Orange County neighborhood and took what looked like an equestrian trail up to the border of Chino Hills State Park. By this point in the day the wind was becoming pretty strong, but the breeze was welcomed and kept me cool on the unseasonably warm day. After about 2 miles, I found the San Juan summit marker with the date of 1896. This stone and concrete structure was a nice windbreak and kept me up on the summit much longer than if it wasn’t there. I was able to secure my mast to a sturdy post, then setup my vertical. Worked 30M with one S2S. Got no calls on 40M. While packing down I made a few more contacts on 2M FM.
This is a one point summit near Whittier, and my first activation of the day of three planned. I parked the car at the end of Vantage Point Drive and headed up the paved road to the summit. After a very short walk I came to a locked gate with several “keep out” signs. This gate didn’t look like the area where others activated, so I wasn’t sure if I was in the activation zone. I considered hopping the fence and climbing a small hill, but there were several long horn cattle in the area and I liked the idea of a fence between me and them. I called another SOTA station on the next summit over, they said the gate area is where they activated in the past. They also shared an story of how a rancher found them on the other side of the gate and was not too happy about it. Still skeptical about actually being in the activation zone, I didn’t bother setting up the HF station and just used HTs. Made seven, 2M FM contacts, and one, 1.2GHz FM contact, 3 S2S. Back at the house, I checked activation.zone and found I was indeed in the correct place.
Sorry, no video or .gpx file for this report. I might update this in the future.