This was my second activation of Mt. Lawlor. The first time I didn’t take any photos/ video and I wish I had, because the summit and firebreak has been cleared. Tracks from a large machine can be seen at the top; I have no idea how they got it up there. Helicopter? You can get up to Lawlor several ways – I parked at Red Box Picnic area and hiked to the firebreak, then, straight up to the summit. You can bypass the insanely steep hike by going around to Strawberry Saddle and hiking the ridge up, which requires a bit of scrambling over rocks. Worked 20M, 40M SSB, and 2M AM (yes, AM). Brought a new (to me) HT which added 23cm to my quiver of bands. Tried to QSO with K6LDQ on 23cm – he could hear me, but I couldn’t hear him. Maybe next time!
This winter has been warm and dry, and the snowpack low. Bonuses are still on the table so I figured it would be a good time to get some extra points. Start at the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead, just off Mt. Baldy road. You will need a forest pass to park. I decided to hike the long way up via Chapman Trail, which adds another 2.5 miles and makes the hike a loop. At the summit I worked 20M, 40M, 70cm SSB, and 2M FM. I went on a weekday so there was little traffic trail. If you go on a weekend make sure to show up early to get a parking space, and be prepared for crowds, as this is a popular area to hike.
I was planing on activating Libre Mountain when I left my house in the morning, however, I got a bit lost and ended up on Bald Mountain instead! This summit would be considered a drive up, but the road to the top has deep potholes making it extremely risky to drive my tiny car all the way. I ended up parking at the bottom of Misty Ridge Drive and hiking the remainder of the way, which was very enjoyable. At the top you will be greeted with a tower site; half of the installation is decommissioned, so I set my station up next to the fence, furthest away form the active site. APRS was available here, so a packet containing my spot was sent. Worked 20M and 40M SSB, then got brave and sent a spot for 30M CW. One station came back to me but I couldn’t get one character in the call. Sadly, they gave up on me after I sent a ? for the third time. Too embarrassed to continue, I went QRT. Near the summit there is an old ranch – some old farming equipment, a rusty French car, and a small collapsing cabin. I wonder who, when, why the owner of this equipment abandoned it?
Kel, Ebun, and myself camped out in the Mojave National Preserve in February to do some hiking. I’ve always wanted to climb Kelso Dunes, and as it turns out, it’s also a SOTA summit! These dunes are neat because there are several endemic species of insects. In addition, the sand makes a very low frequency booming sound when you walk over it. The trailhead is easy to find, three miles down a graded dirt road that intersects with Kelbaker Road. The first mile of trail is pretty flat, with increasing grade for the last half mile or so. At the top, I was able to sink my antenna mast directly into the sand, firmly securing if from wind gusts. I self spotted on APRS so the chasers could find me, made two S2S contacts on 40M, didn’t bother trying any UHF/ VHF.
This summit is a popular drive up, where you can earn 4 SOTA points for walking across a small field. I always figured I would activate this one again on some kinda field day with bulky QRO equipment, but cycling up 3n17 would be way more fun. Turns out, part of the way up is a popular mountain bike trail, called “The Beast“, where you climb up a fire road, then turn off onto a downhill single track back to the start. Hell yea! For this activation, I only brought an FM HT, two beers, water, and some snacks. Joining me was Ebun and Tim. The assent isn’t anything unusual – just a normal, steep, exposed fire road. About 5 miles up to the summit you will run into the single track that goes back down. Of course, we’re going all the way to the top, so another 3-ish miles further. At the summit I had no issues making contacts on 2M and 70cm FM. Excited to ride the single track down, I chugged one beer and headed to the single track. At this point I didn’t take any photos because it was way too much fun to stop. I can’t wait to do this again, and I’ll likely ride “The Beast” again soon.