Ontario Peak was my 100th activation in the logbook, but really only my 97th or 98th activation as I’ve stayed on a couple summits past 00:00z a few times and worked chasers a second time so they could get double points. All that being said, I wanted my 100th activation to be a long hike, in addition, I wanted to hike to a summit I’ve never been to. Ontario Peak fit that description, and having hiked Ice House Canyon twice before I knew what I was getting into. Originally I was only going to bring an HT for UHF/ VHF to save weight, but at the last moment the FT817 kit found it’s way into my pack, however, I omitted the antenna mast and Bioenno battery and just brought some twine to support my vertical antenna from a tree, and some AA batteries to run the rig.
The hike up is somewhat popular, and about 6 miles to the summit with a bunch of elevation gain. Once at the top I was surprised to find how small the actual summit is. I ate a burrito and relaxed a bit before calling CQ on my HT. This immediately got me 4 contacts, 1 S2S. Feeling pretty exhausted from the hike up, I wasn’t feeling motivated to set up the HF station. Good trees to support a wire are all kinda off the edge of ridge and likely outside of the activation zone. Since I hauled the equipment up there, I figured I would just lay the vertical over the chaparral and see what happened. I sent a spot on 20m CW and to my surprise, made several contacts. Moving to 30m, the AA batteries in my radio were acting up and the rig shutdown several times while calling CQ, so I gave up. While packing up the rig, I heard 3 S2S stations on 2m. Whoooohoo! After working the S2S stations, I finished packing up for the 6 mile hike back to the trailhead.
This is a rad hike in Yucca Valley. I tried to summit this one earlier in the year when summer bonus points were on the table, but I couldn’t find the trailhead. Returning a few months later after a bit more research, it turned out I was just one hill away from the trailhead the first time. With that sorted, my wife and I started to head up. The trail is pretty obvious, but it’s easy to loose track of it in some areas. Once at the top I setup my vertical and called out on 30M, then 40M, then 20M, self spotting on each band. Made on S2S to Timber Mountain, W6/CT-052, which makes that a complete for me. I look forward to hiking this one again.
Calabasas Peak is the first summit I activated in the Santa Monica Mountains. I parked across the street from the trailhead on Stunt Road and walked up the steep fire road to the summit. Once there, you will find a couple different benchmarks and a sturdy post to hold an antenna mast. There is little to no shade on the hike up, and very little shade at the summit. I drank 2 liters of water on the short 3.5 mile hike, as it was quite hot the day of my activation.
This is a pretty easy two point summit just off Interstate 5 north of Santa Clarita. Park near Templin Highway and find the fire road along the south side of the highway. Follow this up to a locked gate and continue up the hill. Eventually you will come to a saddle, with a light use trail which leads to the summit. Watch out for rattle snakes! Worked 20M, and 40M CW, no S2S.
There is something about the lower elevation summits along highway 14 that I really like, and while I’m not sure exactly what that thing is, 4300 has it. I started this hike from Aliso Canyon Road and followed the transmission line service road under a support tower and started hiking up cross country style as there was no trail. After a false summit, I made it to the top where it was quite windy. I was able to find a place to sit next to a thick bush which provided some relief from the wind, and a burned tree provided good support for the vertical antenna. There was good cell service, so I spotted myself on 30M. While calling CQ, I noticed some strange noises from the receiver, thinking nothing of it, I continued calling but got no replies… I figured I would try another band. Changing bands require a switch to flipped at the feed point, which adds a loading coil for whatever band was selected. To my surprise, the loading coil for 30m was sitting on the ground – no wonder the radio wasn’t working! The good news was I could still activate on 20M, as this antenna design resinated well there without coils. Made one S2S. On the hike down I picked up a faint use trail and followed it back to the service road. What a great day!
Cerro Noroeste is a super accessible summit and campground near Pine Mountain Club/ Frazier Mountain. At the entrance there you will find an iron ranger asking for a $10 day use fee. I parked down the road and displayed my forest service pass on my rear view mirror and hiked 5 minutes to the summit instead of taking a camping spot. Lots of trees available to string up an antenna. Worked 20m, 30m, 40m, cw, 2m s2s with K6STR and W6LOR on San Emigdio Mountain, just one peak over!
At the time of this activation, the Angeles National Forest was closed due to fires, so my SOTA efforts move to the Santa Monica Mountains. Saddle Peak is a 2 point summit and is well hiked by locals. An quick mile up, and a mile down makes this an easy summit to bag, but please note there isn’t much shade. At the summit, paragliders were starting their flights to the beach in Malibu. Worked 20M SSB/ CW and 30M CW.
The forests in California have all been closed to reduce the potential for fire, which means, tons of SOTA summits in W6 are off limits, however, there are tons of desert summits on BLM land which also qualify for a summer bonus. Looking at a map, I decided to hike Bell Mountain, and Little Bell Mountain, 2 points each with 3 bonus points. I left Los Angeles around 8am and headed to Apple Valley, then made my way to the trailhead via a dirt road. The hike was well defined with a bit of scrambling, which I found quite enjoyable. At the top, you will find a post flying an American flag cemented into the ground. Here there was a swarm of seemingly angry flying ants. Because if this I set my station up off to the side, adjacent to a small rock outcropping which offered a tiny bit of relief from the blazing sun. Worked KK6FR on 1.2GHz, then again on 70cm C4FM. Put spots out on 20m SSB, 40m SB and 30m CW. As the day proceeded I lost all my shade, which was my cue to start hiking down. Thanks for all the chasers!
I started hiking up to 3690 just before sunset. The area where I was parked is used for target practice, as evident by discarded household items riddled with bullet holes and spent shells littering the ground. Hopefully, nobody would show up and start shooting at the hillside I was climbing up. or coming down. At the top, I was greeted with a beautiful sunset and warm desert winds. I setup my antenna mast in a pile of rocks and spotted myself on 40m SSB. No takers at all. Spotted myself on 40m CW, no luck there either. As it got dark, my mast fell over in the wind. Digging through my pack, it seems I forgot my headlight! Unable to fix the antenna system in the dark, I turned to the HT. Made two QSOs on 70cm simplex, C4FM digital. Moved to 2M FM and was greeted by KN6EZE, who called out on a local repeater asking people to chase me on simplex. Made enough contacts to qualify this summit. Thanks Mike! I packed up the radios and hiked down with a small light. I think it would be rad to camp up here on a warm summer night, maybe next year!
This summit is just outside of Mammoth Lakes and worth the journey if you’re in the area. I started out from my campsite off Owens River Road, and meandered through various forest roads on the moto to get as close to 8126 as I could. There are quite a bit of small spur trails in this area and my GPS isn’t granular enough to navigate the correct intersections, which meant, I needed to travel down a spur a few 100 feet before the GPS would indicate which road I was actually on. Often times, I was wrong and had to turn around. Eventually, I got as close to the summit as I could. A large tree blocked a road which goes to the top. I stopped here and hiked the rest of the way up a short, but steep, rocky and rutted path. At the top, there was little shade, and it was hot. Worked 20m and 40m SSB, and had a S2S with N6MKW on 2m, who found and returned an antenna I lost on Mt. Pacifico in the San Gabriels. Thanks again!