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.
This was my second activation of the day, having just left Lovejoy Butte earlier. I parked my small car as far up 136th Street East as I could and walked the short distance to the base of the butte. From here it’s just a short scramble to the top. Once at the summit, I found thousands of red flying ants, the same I’ve seen at other desert summits. I wonder why they like peaks so much? Not wanting to get friendly with them I setup my endfed half wave just off to the side. I had just over an hour before UTC time changed so I worked quickly while I noticed a monsoon coming my way. The the middle of a QSO on 20M, I felt a big fat raindrop, then a few more. I quickly tore my station down, scrambled down the butte and over to the car. By the time I got to the intersection of 136th street and Ave O, the rain was absolutely pouring to the point my wipers couldn’t keep up. Driving around a bit I noted the washes, dry most of the time, were starting to turn into rivers. I stopped at a high point and walked around in the desert to enjoy the rain before heading back to Los Angeles, where it didn’t rain at all.
I set out from my home in Los Angeles to activate three buttes in the Antelope Valley area. Lovejoy was the first of the day. Of course, I can never get out of the house at a reasonable time so I arrived around noon to my starting point on 145th Street East. It was hotter than I expected but I have a large golf umbrella for days like this, and it proved absolutely critical for both the hike and activation. You can make out a faint use trail up to the summit from the road, and accessing that trail requires navigating various moto trails, deep soft sand, and piles of dumped construction materials. Closer to the top is a faint use trail which goes to the summit. Worked 2M, 40M, 30M CW with a S2S on each band. Worked 20M CW with zero contacts which surprised me. The hike was under two miles but I drank two liters of water. Back at the car I had a snack and more water before heading over to the next butte.
The road up to Butler Peak was closed for several years due to a washout, however, repairs were made and the road opened July 4th. I drove my low clearance commuter car from Rim Of The World to Forest Road 2N13, and parked near the gate up to Butler. Hiking up to the summit was enjoyable and offered views not normally seen in the San Gabriel mountain range. Once at the top, the fire lookout volunteer invited me up to the tower for a tour and mentioned I was the only hiker of the day and that everyone else arrived via off-road vehicle. After the tour I climbed around on the rocks just below the tower in search for a place to setup the radio. There isn’t much usable room but I found a place I could put my endfed wire between two rocks. Since I brought my Yaesu 817 I decided to start on 70cm CW, which got me one contact. Moving to 2M FM only got me an additional contact. Moving to HF afforded me the contacts needed to get points. I made it down the mountain and back to the paved road right when it was starting to get dark. Perfect timing!
Reyes Peak is one I’ve wanted to activate since starting SOTA in 2019, but hadn’t because it’s a pretty far drive from the our home. On a hot July day my wife and I wanted to get out of the house, so we decided to jump in the car and go for a long drive out to the summit trailhead. Getting there took longer than expected due to slow winding roads. Shortly after starting off on the trailhead, the path splits. Go straight there, up a steep embankment. If you make a left turn to will end up at Haddock Mountain. At the summit is a rock formation you can scramble up. You can find evidence of an old fire lookout tower here. I signed the register and setup my HF antenna; worked 40M, 30M, and 20M. No contacts on 30. After getting back to the car we headed over to Rainbow Falls, then eventually over to Ojai for dinner and a beer.
This trip was my first time up Sandstone, but my second attempt. My previous trip to the trail head was met with treacherous winds which kept me from putting efforts into reaching the summit. The hike is typical of those in the Santa Monica Mountains; hot, dry and no shade whatsoever. I brought my hiking umbrella which made things much easier. After about 1.5 miles you will reach the summit and find a plaque honoring Herbert Allen. There I took quite a bit of time to cool down, listening on 2M for any activity. Made a few S2S QSOs. This summit doesn’t have much room to stretch out a long HF antenna, but I made it work by hiking out to a sketchy outcropping. I then realized I forgot the power cable to my HF radio! Doh! I packed up the antenna I just setup and hiked down the trail back to my car.
I left work a bit earlier than usual one day to for a night activation, my first since starting with SOTA. Temescal Peak is kinda close to my office so I wouldn’t need to suffer through SoCal traffic so much. I pulled up to an area which looked okay to leave the car, collected my equipment and started to hike up a paved drainage system, at which point I was welcomed by a sign to the Topanga State Park. A cool coastal breeze was welcome as I hiked along. I kept thinking how it would have been a nice on a mountain bike. At the top, I wasted no time to get the antenna setup. The summit is kinda small, so not much room for an EFHW, but that’s what I had so I made it work. Worked 40m, 30m and 20m CW in addition to 2m FM. Made 4 DX contacts on 20M in a row. Maybe I should do night activations more often? Hiking down, by flashlight started to die and I forgot spare cells. Luckily, the moon was bright which was enough to see where I was going. Next time I’m doing this one on a mountain bike.
I wanted to hike some new terrain, so I mapped out a route through the Cow horns, east of Big Pine. Leaving Los Angeles around 6am got me to Big Pine before noon, where I bought some drinks and ice for the cooler before heading over to Death Valley Road. There is no actual trail that I could find. I started hiking up a wash, which had various levels and looked as if it would be a waterfall in times of rain. This was too sketchy for me, so I tried to get as much elevation as possible instead by climbing out of the steep wash through loose soil. It was starting to get hot, but I brought a giant golf umbrella to offer shade, which offered relief. After hiking for about 45 minutes I found the ridge line and headed straight to the summit. Once there I looked for a register, or a geo marker, but didn’t find anything. Worked 20,30, 40M CW. Wanting to activate the neighboring summit, I packed the station up and headed over……
The route I took over to W6/IN-036 was steep, and at one point I was questioning myself why I do things like this. It was hot, the ground under me was loose and I was consistently slipping. There are several nice shady trees on the ridge which offered additional shade. These trees felt a bit out of place as the whole journey thus far had seemed to be a bit treeless. Once at the summit, I looked around for any markers, or even a register but found nothing. Feeling fatigued, I setup my station and spotted myself on APRS. At 00:00 I shut the station down and headed back to the car. Going down was also steep and I only slipped once. I’d like to come back to these summits on a cooler day, and maybe place a register, and hopefully find a less steep route.