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!