It was a wet winter and all the plants were very happy. While this summit is only worth 1 SOTA point, it’s totally worth hiking for the views alone. I hiked this with Jeff C. on a Friday to avoid weekend crowds. We ended up doing the “secret passage” route by following the tracks posted by N6ARA. Worked 20, 30, 40M CW at the summit. This is a beautiful hike and I hope to visit this place again in the future.
I’ve had Alamo Mountain on my radar for awhile but never thought I could get up there without lugging the moto on my van out to the OHV area, then, ride up to the side of the mountain, hike up, activate, hike down, moto back to the van, load up and head home. It felt like a lot of effort for 6 points. Well, last year my wife bought a Subaru Crosstrek and ended up putting a suspension lift in along with 30″ tires. To tackle this summit, her and I ended up driving through Gorman OHV area (free, no need to pay for access if just passing through) on Gold Hill Road. Here the pavement ends and turns into 8N01 which leads to a loop around Alamo Mountain. At the intersection we made a left and stopped at the back side of the summit. Here we grilled some burgers before the hike, ate, then headed up.
There is no actual trail up, so this was kinda a bushwhack the entire way through knee high flora. This means there was a ton of spikey and pokey things getting stuck in our socks – so much that I think the socks I wore on this hike might be ruined – otherwise a beautiful day. Throughout the hike I was worried about snakes, but I didn’t see any. Worked 20M, 30M, and 40M CW, two 2s2 QSOs. Signed the logbook and headed down the hill. Back at the car we completed the loop around Alamo. There are a few more SOTA summits which start around this area, so hopefully I can return soon to activate them.
Mike – KN6EZE started with SOTA around the same time as I did, so when we were both close to earning goat status- 1,000 points, we decided to do it together. Originally we were going to snowshoe up to Sunset Peak, however, that morning an avalanche blocked the road to the trailhead which forced us to quickly change plans. Had we been any earlier to Sunset Peak, we might have been stuck in Mount Baldy Village until the snow was cleared.
Nearby, Frankish Peak would satisfy the points needed for both of us to make goat status. This was a summit I’ve never climbed, in addition I already made a contact here so it would be a complete for me as well. The hike starts out on a narrow use trail that leads to a fire road, then another use trail which is quite steep, perhaps more of a climb to a ridge line. Here, there was plenty of snow accumulation which made the hike even more enjoyable.
At the top we spread out. I setup a 40M EFHW and Mike setup a 2M j-pole. After I exhausted all chaser on 40M Mike and I switched stations. Mike used a uSDX in SSB mode which made me want to get one of these inexpensive little radios. He then switched it to CW while I worked 2M FM. After reminiscing on the summit of all the adventures and summits before, we hiked back to the car the same way we came up. Traffic was terrible so we went to a restaurant and got a well deserved meal and a beer while things settled down on the highways.
San Emigdio Mountain is basically a drive up. This could be done in a 2wd vehicle with enough clearance; at the time I visited as the road seemed like it was recently graded. I parked at a large turn around area and started hiking up to the top. Once there I realized I went the long way, not a problem though since this was a short hike. I used the Yaesu 817 on the high bands. Worked 10M, 12M, 15M and 17M. Two s2s contacts. I signed the register and started heading down, where I picked up a faint use trail back to the road. I explored an area that looked like it might have been a mine at some point, then headed up the hill to the truck.
Butterbredt Peak was my first stop on a trip to activate several summits around the northern edge of the Mojave Desert and the south edge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I left Los Angeles for my trip late in the day which had me rushing to get up to the summit before 0:00 zulu. This also put me square in the hottest part of the day. The hike up Butterbredt started easy, but maybe a half mile in the path got steep and extremely sandy, to the point where I felt like I was on a sand treadmill, only making a few inches of progress for each step. Thankfully, this section was short and I was able to continue on. Along the way, fighter jets ripped through the sky along with the defining sound of their engines. I sat and watched them fly around for 10 minutes or so. The top was windy, which is expected on desert summits. I spotted via APRS and started calling CQ on 40M. Not too many takers. I moved to 30M and picked up one more contact, then moved to 20M. Picked up one more contact there. Just 4 contacts on 3 bands… Was my radio broken? Nope, there was a solar event which was blacking out HF. I hiked down the same way I came up, got into the truck and looked for a place to camp for the night.
This was my first summit of the day in a series of three. The day before I activated Butterbredt Peak to the south and camped at what might be my new favorite spot. Unfortunately the overnight wind was relentless and I got cold, so I didn’t get a good nights sleep. For the activation, I parked the truck near Dove Springs Canyon Road, and followed a moto trail to the top, where a several pinyon pines and some nice rocks lay. I found a summit register overflowing and signed mostly by moto riders upset about loosing land to ride dirt bikes on. I did notice several fences cut in the area so perhaps they are not allowed up there. There was also a benchmark which someone tried to pry off; I’m glad it’s still there. Worked all bands, then headed back to the truck to visit another summit.
Second summit of the day, an easy hike from the truck trail I was traveling down. I parked near an old mining operation, crossed the PCT and followed a wide moto trail to the summit. No more than 1/2 mile round trip. Rocky, plenty of space to stretch out an antenna. Had good luck on all three bands, several S2S.
This was my 3rd summit of the day. I parked my truck near the PCT and cooked some ground beef patties on my small gas grill in the shade before hiking up to the summit. Beautiful short hike along the PCT among stands of Joshua trees. I got as close as I could to the summit on the PCT before heading up through a small canyon. This probably wasn’t the best way as this route required hiking along a rocky ridge. At the top I setup my equipment and get to work on the bands. Worked 20, 30, 40M CW, no QSOs on 30M. Called out on 2M FM, and got one station out in Phelan, AC – that’s pretty far away! I found a summit register placed by Bob Burd which was mostly empty, I signed with my call and placed the register back. I hiked down a different, easier way. Back at the PCT temperatures dropped so many through hikers were back on the trail. Back at the truck, I packed everything up and headed back to Los Angeles. What a great weekend out in the desert!
This summit is in Joshua Tree National Park, so it qualifies for POTA in addition to SOTA if you’re into that kinda thing. I woke up early in the morning and headed out to JTNP to try and beat the heat of summer. While this hike isn’t very long, the wet winter was kind to various plants which were eager to seed. Of course, these seeds are scratchy and pokey, and moving through this knee high stuff was enough to cover my shoes and socks. Writing this blog post out two months later, I think those socks still have seeds stuck in them from this trip. Anyways, at the top was a nice flat area to setup an antenna and relax while operating. Worked 40M, 30M, and 20M CW before heading down. An easy, fun summit to bag, in an interesting area of JTNP.
This was a fun one for me. After hitting up a few easy summits with summer bonus points in the Crestline area, I kinda wanted to camp before heading home to Los Angeles. Saddleback Butte caught my eye because there are camping facilities right by the trailhead – the idea was to head up to the summit just after dusk and activate, come back to camp, sleep, then head home in the morning. The hike up was easy, sandy in some parts and calm with a slight breeze. It took about an hour to get to the top, where I was greeted with extremely high winds, so high my antenna mast broke at the fattest, bottom piece. It was impossible to get any kind wire up in the air. I ended up with my 20M wire segment blowing like a flag over a ledge. After calling for about 20 minutes on CW, which I knew wouldn’t work at this hour – I gave up, packed my battered equipment down and went back to camp. I didn’t sleep well because the campground is situated near a busy road; trucks and motorcycles kept me awake. At first light, I headed back up to the summit where is was much calmer than the night before. I worked 20, 30, 40M CW. After I exhausted all the chasers I headed back to camp before the summer desert heat took hold. I’d do this one again, but I’m not sure I’d camp there again.