I hiked up to Strawberry Peak on a Saturday with some friends. Turns out that this is a very popular hike among Los Angeles denizens. I would do this again, on a weekday as the summit was crowded with noisy folks at one point. I made several contacts on 2M, including two summit to summit contacts. 20M seemed dead (spotted over APRS). I tried 40M, got nothing but later found out my spot didn’t make it out.
I almost dismissed this summit as another SOTA activator I spoke with said this hike wasn’t worth it, but after going the trail up the trail myself, I would respectfully disagree. Most of the hike is under shady trees, making it ideal for a summer getaway from the city. The summit offers several nice sitting rocks and great views. The trail is difficult to follow at times, so downloading the tracks below for your GPS may be helpful. 73!
This is probably the easiest SOTA activation I’ve done to date. Next time I activate this peak I may bring heavier equipment! There is a road all the way to a Nike missile site (LA-94), then a short walk up to the benchmark, which reads Camp 9. Be aware that you need to drive through the fire camp, which consists of buildings on both sides of the road leading to the top. When I activated this summit, there were several fire fighters training in the road, but nobody seemed to mind that I was there. I setup my station near the benchmark and made several contacts on 2M and 20M. 40M was very quiet. Thanks to all the chasers!
Another day off work means another SOTA activation. I had Josephine Peak on my radar because there is a fire road all the way to the top, which means I could ride a bike up to the summit. I made it a bit over a mile up the road before I needed to stop and walk. After that it was intermittent riding/ pushing. There are several switchbacks which make the grade a bit easier, but these obviously add quite a bit of distance to the route – something I didn’t think about when starting this activation. At the top of the summit there is evidence of a fire lookout tower, and a small shelter for radio equipment. I made a surprising amount of contacts on 2M given it was a Tuesday; 20M and 40M felt quiet but I still managed a few contacts on each. It got cold and dark quickly, so I tore the station down and headed to my car which was parked on highway 2. The downhill ride was fast; I was on both brakes hard the entire way to maintain a reasonable speed. Overall, this was a fun activation.
Kel and I hiked up W6/CT-146, Hoyt Mountain. This is worth 4 points for SOTA folks. Parking is just off Highway 2, at Grizzly Flat Trailhead. Once you’re there, follow the big fire road. Stay to the right at the split by the old water tank base. Eventually, the road kinda just stops under the high tension power lines at the top. It took a bit of time to find, but here is a narrow, somewhat overgrown trail right in the middle of the hill which goes up to the summit. Further up, the trail gets better and more defined. This bit was somewhat challenging for me, and presents you with a few false summits.
I started out working 2M FM thinking someone could spot me on SOTAWatch. To my surprise, I could only get a single station! I’m generally able to get tons of 2M contacts, but this was a holiday weekend so….. I setup my HF station – Yaesu 817 into a resonant vertical antenna cut for 20M, supported by a squid pole. While doing this, I figured out how to self spot using the APRS-> SOTA gateway. After getting a message back from the system informing me I was spotted, I started calling out on 14.340Mhz, where I was immediately picked up by W0MNA in Kansas, followed by ZL2IFB in New Zealand, my first QRP/ SOTA DX station. 🙂 I made several more contacts, noticed the time and started packing down the station when I found the radio was configured to transmit at 2.5 watts. No wonder I was getting 44~47 signal reports. The hike down is the reverse of the way up. Overall, this is a fun hike.
I picked up a $6 Pixie kit on eBay, which included shipping from China and nice case for the finished radio. The kit didn’t come with any kind of instructions, so I needed to find a schematic that matched the PCB. Over all, it was a fun build, and one I would recommend to a new ham, or anyone wanting to get into kit building.
I broke the LCD screen on my favorite radio. Luckily, a new display was $0.97 from Yaesu in California. A bit of exploratory disassembly and fiddling with zebra stripes, and the display is back to normal!
November 10th, 2019. This was a quick activation. I cycled up to the top, made 10 contacts, and was back at the starting point within an hour. Getting to the actual summit is impossible as there is a fence to keep folks out of the antenna area. I didn’t bother setting up the HF station, so I just worked local 146.520 Mhz, 2M FM using the Yaesu 817. RF levels felt high, as my HT was struggling to pull signals from the Mount Wilson repeater which is line of sight to this point. Furthest contact goes to WB2WIK, who was near the Ventura County line.
November 9th, 2019 – This was the second summit of the day with Lars, KJ6CBE. The hike up, and down from this point was uncomfortable for me with loose sand and rocks most of the way. The trail starts very steep, then follows the ridge line (also steep) up to a false summit where it flattens out for a bit. Continue along the trail to reach the real summit. I worked 40M, and 20M SSB. Lars worked 2M FM. The radial system on my vertical antenna broke, leaving me with higher SWR than I wanted on 20M. Still made a contact to the east coast. Not bad for 5W at solar minimum.