This was my second activation of the day, having hiked W6/CT-041 earlier. I was starving from a light breakfast so I stopped at a small diner in Angelus Oaks for a late lunch burger. From the diner, I took a small dirt road behind the post office as far as I could in my small commuter car, parked and started hiking to the summit. It had just rained, so there was quite a few large water puddles. If it was drier I could have just driven to the use trail that leads to the summit. The trail is pretty obvious, just steep. At the top there was a small rattle snake curled up right where I wanted to setup. The snake was there first so I put the antenna a bit further down the hill, but well within the activation zone. The clock just passed 00:00, and I was loosing daylight so I worked through the bands quickly, with a few S2S and a Japanese DX station. I rushed to tear the station down and hiked down the hill. I git back to the car right before the last light of the day. Perfect timing!
This hike starts off Hwy 38, across the street is a large area to park. I placed my Adventure Pass on the dash of my car, although I don’t think it was needed. After crossing the road and made my way through the woods a bit, I realized I couldn’t find the jeep road others had mentioned. Luckily I had a .gpx track saved on my phone, which I used to get back on track. The first mile of this hike is the steepest, gaining ~500′, 600′ in elevation. From there it relaxes quite a bit until the very end which is steep and covered in loose rocks. The summit is obvious, two large posts and a pile of rocks. There is a register here, but unfortunately it was soaking wet and covered in black mold. Worked 20, 30 and 40M CW, and 2M FM on the HT. I was able to open the 2M repeater out in Yucca Valley but nobody was available to chat. I took my time hiking down, enjoying the view and the beautiful juniper trees. I’ll be back soon!
Smith Mountain has been on my list of summits to activate since I started with sota. I made an attempt to hike it the the previous year, but restrictions from the Bobcat fire were in place and the area was closed. The trailhead is easy to find; next to a pit toilet just off Hwy 39 above Azusa. From there the trail winds for three miles through beautiful canyons, gaining about 1,000 feet in elevation along the way. Once you hit the saddle, take a break because things are going to get steep. It took me some time to navigate the thick vegetation, rocks, and steep grade on this one, often finding a use trail but almost immediately loosing it. At the top, there was a benchmark and enough room to stretch out an EFHW antenna. Worked 20, 30, 40M CW and 2M FM with the HT. Coming down the mountain was a bit easier as I could locate the faint use trails a bit easier. Overall, this is a fun hike that’s accessible and close to the city. I’ll be visiting again in the future.