Another day off work means another SOTA activation. I had Josephine Peak on my radar because there is a fire road all the way to the top, which means I could ride a bike up to the summit. I made it a bit over a mile up the road before I needed to stop and walk. After that it was intermittent riding/ pushing. There are several switchbacks which make the grade a bit easier, but these obviously add quite a bit of distance to the route – something I didn’t think about when starting this activation. At the top of the summit there is evidence of a fire lookout tower, and a small shelter for radio equipment. I made a surprising amount of contacts on 2M given it was a Tuesday; 20M and 40M felt quiet but I still managed a few contacts on each. It got cold and dark quickly, so I tore the station down and headed to my car which was parked on highway 2. The downhill ride was fast; I was on both brakes hard the entire way to maintain a reasonable speed. Overall, this was a fun activation.
The cabin on Burke was full of killer bees which made it risky to clean up the property. I contacted the High Desert Bee Keeping Society asking if anyone wanted to take the mean bees, but they informed me Landers bees were extremely aggressive, and they should be exterminated. At first, I thought it would be easy enough to buy a $30 Amazon prime bee suit and spray the hives down with bug spray, and call it a day. Kel wouldn’t let me do that so we called a local pest control company. After the first treatment, the bees seemed more pissed off than before. A second treatment didn’t take them out either. Finally, after the third visit, the pest control company said they just need to remove the hive (something I wanted to do to save money) because there were still pissed off bees everywhere. I happily obliged. The pest control company ripped out the wall from the inside of the cabin and the hive was bigger than I imagined! Photos below.
Kel and I hiked up W6/CT-146, Hoyt Mountain. This is worth 4 points for SOTA folks. Parking is just off Highway 2, at Grizzly Flat Trailhead. Once you’re there, follow the big fire road. Stay to the right at the split by the old water tank base. Eventually, the road kinda just stops under the high tension power lines at the top. It took a bit of time to find, but here is a narrow, somewhat overgrown trail right in the middle of the hill which goes up to the summit. Further up, the trail gets better and more defined. This bit was somewhat challenging for me, and presents you with a few false summits.
I started out working 2M FM thinking someone could spot me on SOTAWatch. To my surprise, I could only get a single station! I’m generally able to get tons of 2M contacts, but this was a holiday weekend so….. I setup my HF station – Yaesu 817 into a resonant vertical antenna cut for 20M, supported by a squid pole. While doing this, I figured out how to self spot using the APRS-> SOTA gateway. After getting a message back from the system informing me I was spotted, I started calling out on 14.340Mhz, where I was immediately picked up by W0MNA in Kansas, followed by ZL2IFB in New Zealand, my first QRP/ SOTA DX station. 🙂 I made several more contacts, noticed the time and started packing down the station when I found the radio was configured to transmit at 2.5 watts. No wonder I was getting 44~47 signal reports. The hike down is the reverse of the way up. Overall, this is a fun hike.