This is the second time I’ve activated Josephine Peak. I rode bicycles up with my wife, E, and Lars. Cold weather and brutal winds kept me off the HF bands as the antenna mast wouldn’t have stood up. Worked 2M FM and 10M SSB. Not much has changed up there, see my previous activation report here for more info.
My pal E.Bun had been taking about hiking Ice House Canyon for a few weeks. This is a pretty popular hiking destination in Southern California which I really knew nothing about, as I have only been in that part of the San Gabriels once, maybe 15 years ago. After some research, I thought to myself “Oh, there are SOTA summits up there? I’m in!”. It’s a longer hike than I normally enjoy, and since it’s popular, you need to be at the trailhead ridiculously early or risk missing out on a parking space. I only brought an HT, with the idea that I could do a UHF only activation. Since this is a popular summit, I didn’t want wires everywhere. I enjoyed the additional bonus of a lighter pack.
I was awake at 4:30AM, at the trailhead just before 6AM. The parking lot was filling up like an In-N-Out burger drive thru. Groups pf people were gathering at the bottom, ready to hike. The majority of people were not wearing masks, which in the middle of the Corona Virus outbreak, really bothers me – to the point where I was reconsidering the trip. We started on the trail just after 6AM just after first light. E.Bun was hiking fast, full steam ahead, and I needed to shed my jacket after about 15 minutes. Around about 4 miles of constant uphill, we reached Ice House Saddle, where several large, unmasked groups were congregating there. We found a nice spot away from everyone upwind, on a small hill in the sun to take a short break and figure out what we were going to do.
One large group split off and headed to Timber Mountain. “Not going there”. Another large group split off to Ontario Peak. “Not going there either”. The only option left was Cucamonga, which we didn’t see any large groups heading up so of we hiked! This trail was much less traveled than Ice House which made me feel a lot better. Additionally, it was much more scenic and a bit more technical. Eventually the trail turned to ice on the north side of the mountain – when the trail winds around to the south side, one could imagine it’s the middle of summer. A short trek through ‘deep’ snow and we made it to the summit, well, almost. The actual summit was full of maskless people taking photos with the summit sign for their Instagram account. We stoped a bit further east, away from everyone.
We both took some time to relax and enjoy the views, eat lunch, and chat about the hike up. E.Bun went to meditate. I pulled out the HT, spotted myself on 446.000 via APRS and started calling CQ. I worked 15 stations on 70cm in about 30 minutes, which honestly surprised me. Satisfied with the contacts I made, and knowing there was a long hike down to the trailhead, we packed up and started heading down. This is where it got annoying. The trail is narrow and most hikers coming up were not wearing masks. You need to come really close to another person to pass, otherwise you’re just going to stand there all day. Other places, large maskless groups were occupying the narrow trail, giving very little room to pass.
We made it back to the trailhead around 3:30. I are a burrito and drank half a quart of water at the car. I’m not sure I’ll do this trail again on a weekend, even after everyone gets vaccinated. Way too many people – hopefully we didn’t catch Corona Virus, please be respectful and wear a mask when around other on our trails.