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!
Dry Creek Knoll is just outside Mammoth Lakes and, a pretty easy summit to bag if you’re in the area. This could be a drive up, but I don’t think a sedan would make it. I took Mammoth Scenic Loop from Hwy 395, then took one of the several off-highway roads and meandered up to the top by loosely following my GPS. Once near the summit, I parked the moto off the side of the road and hiked the rest of the way. At the very top is a small rock pile, which wasn’t a great place to setup my vertical and spread out the radials. I ended up setting up slightly off to the side of these rocks. Worked 20m, 40m SSB, and 30m CW. One S2S to Washington State on 20m.
Snow Benchmark is just off 3N17, which was closed for 11 years to motorized traffic. I was planing on riding a mountain bike to this summit from Sand Canyon, but the forest service opened the road which allowed me to drive my van right below the summit. From there, it’s 1/2 mile round trip hike. Worked 2m FM, 20m SSB, and 10m CW, three s2s contacts.
From North Shore Drive near Fawnskin, take 2N09 to roughly 34.28215, -116.91535 – near a gate. I parked my van here and rode a mountain bike most of the way, pushing where it got too steep, or the rocks were too loose to get any meaningful traction. At the top were two radio shelters and various towers. I setup just outside the fence of the highest building. Hearing activity on 2M, I puled out the HT and made a few contacts there, all of whom were camping with the SOTA group. Quickly made several additional contacts on 40m, then packed down the equipment and headed on down the hill before it got too dark.
7940 is the second summit I activated for the SoCal Sota Fest up in Big Bear. After waking up at camp, I headed across the Holcomb Valley via 3N16 and parked the van just off the side of the road when I was close enough to the summit. I heard this would be easy to cycle, so brought my mountain bike and started climbing up. The road was recently graded and somewhat hard packed in some areas, so it was a pretty easy ride. Turns out this whole area is a strip mine, and these roads were graded for mining efforts. Other than a few parked earth moving machines, there was no actual mining activity, or official personal around at all. When I got to the the highest point I could find, I still wasn’t at the actual summit according to the GPS map; the actual summit had turned into a giant pit! Across this large pit, I could see two other stations in an area with some flora left, I think it was N1CLC and KX6I? After working a few stations on 2M, and SSB, two other hams came up to the summit, AE6NH and KG6MWQ, who setup a 4 element yagi for 2M. My HT picked up at least one packet from the APRS digipeater in Goldfield, NV, they pointed their beam that way. Worked 20m, 40m SSB, 30m CW and 2m FM. I packed my station up and blasted down the hill on the MTB. Excited to be in the shade with an ice cold drink from my cooler, I realized my GPS was not with me anymore, so I hiked all the way back up to the summit looking for it. Luckily I found it on the ground, a short distance from the gate.
This summit is named after Charles Merwin Gilbert (1910 – 1988), you can read more about his life and career here —> https://eps.berkeley.edu/content/charles-merwin-gilbert. I didn’t do any internet searches on how to summit this peak before attempting it myself, but I think there is a better way up than the way I went. I took the moto through the forest on an (unnamed?) road and parked as close to the summit as one could, then hiked straight up the side of the hill. It was hot; I was quickly moving from shady spot to shady spot to stay out of the blazing sun. Drank almost a liter of water on the way up. At the top, some interesting rock formations and a plaque dedicated to Charles Merwin Gilbert. I setup my station just off the side of the rock formation, under a shady tree, where I got attacked by crawling insects that liked bite me. Called out on 2M, made no contacts. Worked 20M SSB, and 30M CW. Two S2S contacts.
On the way home from several activations in the White Mountains and the Inyo National Forest outside Mammoth Lakes, I decided to bag one last peak along Hwy 395. I started this hike just off Tinemaha Road. The map I was referencing listed a mine at the bottom of the trail but I didn’t see much evidence of that. It was later in the day and very hot; I sucked down a bit over a liter of water in the mile or so to the top. I used about half of my other liter to dump on my head to cool down. At the top, a small rock pile was used to support my vertical antenna. I worked 20 SSB, 40M SSB (which got no contacts) and 30M CW, two S2S there. This summit has outstanding views of the Owens Valley, and I hope to activate this one again soon.
Bald Mountain is a drive up, I think you would need a 4×4 to make it up all the way, as the last bit is steep, with loose sharp rocks. This being said, the dirt road leading up to this summit is well graded, and I believe a sedan could make it most of the way down the 10+ mile dirt road, stoping where it starts getting rough, then hiking the remainder. At the top, there is a fire lookout station, a small log cabin, and a picnic table. Since the lookout station was unoccupied, I took the stairs to the top with a 2M radio and looked for contacts on 146.520. Nothing heard. Next, I went to check out the cabin, which was well stocked with supplies and a cast iron stove. I set my station up inside, with my tri-band vertical just outside the door. Worked SSB, conditions were bad, but I was able to make enough contacts to activate this summit. Sadly, the cabin was kinda a mess inside with empty bottles/ cans/ random trash, and other objects out of place. I took 5 minutes to straighten things up and remove several far-right political stickers. There was also tons of graffiti inside, which by looking at the dates, was recent and aligned with the stickers. Hopefully people will stop trashing the cabin and it won’t get locked up.
This is a drive up, but you may need 4-wheel drive for the last bit through sharp obsidian, which is everywhere in this area. I hiked up from a parking area off highway 395, 6 miles round trip through a beautiful forest. Worked 20M, 40M SSB with one S2S in Utah.
If you’re in the area, this is a very easy summit to activate, it’s right off White Mountain Road, and a short, 5 minute (if that) hike up from a small parking area. Activation zone is pretty small, so I’m not sure one could stretch out a dipole. Worked KM6QCE on 2M FM, who then drove by to say hello! Also worked 20M, 40M SSB.