This was my last summit of three activated for the day. With the sun setting and the wind still somewhat annoying, I didn’t setup the HF station. Instead, I used my Icom 4 band HT and spotted myself on 1.2GHz, 6M and 70cm. No contacts on any of those bands. Finally, I moved to 2M and made enough contacts to activate the summit. Sitting just below the grade of the towers seems to help the HT cope with the high levels of RF. The hike up and down was short and lovely. I made a wrong turn and had to backtrack a bit, but didn’t mind the extra distance.
This was my second planned summit of the day, having activated W6/CT-240 earlier. I parked somewhere in a pretty affluent Orange County neighborhood and took what looked like an equestrian trail up to the border of Chino Hills State Park. By this point in the day the wind was becoming pretty strong, but the breeze was welcomed and kept me cool on the unseasonably warm day. After about 2 miles, I found the San Juan summit marker with the date of 1896. This stone and concrete structure was a nice windbreak and kept me up on the summit much longer than if it wasn’t there. I was able to secure my mast to a sturdy post, then setup my vertical. Worked 30M with one S2S. Got no calls on 40M. While packing down I made a few more contacts on 2M FM.
This is a one point summit near Whittier, and my first activation of the day of three planned. I parked the car at the end of Vantage Point Drive and headed up the paved road to the summit. After a very short walk I came to a locked gate with several “keep out” signs. This gate didn’t look like the area where others activated, so I wasn’t sure if I was in the activation zone. I considered hopping the fence and climbing a small hill, but there were several long horn cattle in the area and I liked the idea of a fence between me and them. I called another SOTA station on the next summit over, they said the gate area is where they activated in the past. They also shared an story of how a rancher found them on the other side of the gate and was not too happy about it. Still skeptical about actually being in the activation zone, I didn’t bother setting up the HF station and just used HTs. Made seven, 2M FM contacts, and one, 1.2GHz FM contact, 3 S2S. Back at the house, I checked activation.zone and found I was indeed in the correct place.
Sorry, no video or .gpx file for this report. I might update this in the future.
If you live in Los Angles chances are you have looked at this summit several times, it’s right next to the world famous Hollywood sign. I live just a few mile away, however It took me awhile to actually activate it, and honestly, I tried to a few times but got discouraged and did something else. Why? From the parking area, you can see streams of people hiking up and down the hillside. Way too crowded for me, way too crowded to put up any kind of antenna without being in the way.
One rainy day I wanted to get out of the house and thought the weather might keep people inside, so I headed over to the trailhead. While the trail wasn’t completely empty, it wasn’t jam packed as I’ve observed before. Since rain has been scare around here for the past few years it was either now, or maybe next year, so I headed up. he trail was steeper than I imagined, but nothing that difficult.
At the top of the ridge, I went to look at the wisdom tree. I could see this single tree from my old office on Wilshire. Rumor says it came in a McDonald’s Happy Meal in the 70’s as a sapling, and someone planted it up there and returned with water every few weeks to keep it alive. I have no idea if this is true or not but it’s a good story. After trying to grab a photo of it without people taking 100 selfies in the background, I continued up the ridge to the summit marker.
Shortly after leaving the tree I arrived at the summit marker. Since this is a ridge, there isn’t a lot of room, but I was able to find a small offshoot to setup the station that was mostly out of the way. I setup the vertical and got everything setup. Worked 30M, 40M, and 20M CW. This was hard at times because at one point there were loud kids just a few feet away from me. In addition, hikers would use the small offshoot I was on, and I worried about someone tripping over one of the wires I had going everywhere.
After working all the chasers, the station was packed down and put away. I hiked around and found the benchmark, then considered going over to the Hollywood sign, but decided not to. I think it took longer to get down that it was to get up because the weather cleared and there were more trail users. Overall, it was a fun day, but I wish it rained a bit harder, for a bit longer.
This was the second summit of the day, having just activated Grass Mountain on the other side of the paved road. Like Grass Mountain, you could pretty much drive this one but I took a mountain bike. The road up was a nice gradual uphill until the last mile or so where it got steeper. The surface condition on this part was deteriorating to to aggressive off road vehicle tires so it was difficult to cycle so I walked a few chunks. Near the summit, I followed a dirt bike trail up, which lead straight to the summit. Sadly, the whole area is a dirt bike hellscape and isn’t very nice. There were several benchmarks, one 90 years old, which I found interesting. Worked 30M and 20M, one S2S. Sadly, I forgot to turn my GPS on, so no recorded track.
I like this one because there are several large trees on top, which is kinda unusual for this area. From what I’ve read, most people activate Grass Mountain as a drive up, but I parked the car at the paved road and took a mountain bike up the service road. The ride is under 3 miles and ~1000′ of elevation gain. Parts of the road were deeply rutted after recent rains, and I don’t think a passenger car would make it, however this will likely change once it gets graded. The top sports a few radio towers with equipment shelters. Adjacent to that is a nice grass field, where I setup my HF station. Worked 20M, 30M, 40M with several S2S contacts. I would have loved to stay up there longer, but I wanted to activate a second summit on the next ridge over, Burn Benchmark. I think I’ll bring a hammock and a cooler with a few drinks and a sandwich next time I’m here and spend all day in the trees.
The Grass Mountain lookout was a cooperative lookout between the U.S. Forest Service and the Los Angeles County Forestry Department built in 1934. The structure was a California Region revision of the L-4 cabin on a 10 foot open timber tower.
The lookout was destroyed a wildfire in August 1951 and was not rebuilt.