There is something about the lower elevation summits along highway 14 that I really like, and while I’m not sure exactly what that thing is, 4300 has it. I started this hike from Aliso Canyon Road and followed the transmission line service road under a support tower and started hiking up cross country style as there was no trail. After a false summit, I made it to the top where it was quite windy. I was able to find a place to sit next to a thick bush which provided some relief from the wind, and a burned tree provided good support for the vertical antenna. There was good cell service, so I spotted myself on 30M. While calling CQ, I noticed some strange noises from the receiver, thinking nothing of it, I continued calling but got no replies… I figured I would try another band. Changing bands require a switch to flipped at the feed point, which adds a loading coil for whatever band was selected. To my surprise, the loading coil for 30m was sitting on the ground – no wonder the radio wasn’t working! The good news was I could still activate on 20M, as this antenna design resinated well there without coils. Made one S2S. On the hike down I picked up a faint use trail and followed it back to the service road. What a great day!
Cerro Noroeste is a super accessible summit and campground near Pine Mountain Club/ Frazier Mountain. At the entrance there you will find an iron ranger asking for a $10 day use fee. I parked down the road and displayed my forest service pass on my rear view mirror and hiked 5 minutes to the summit instead of taking a camping spot. Lots of trees available to string up an antenna. Worked 20m, 30m, 40m, cw, 2m s2s with K6STR and W6LOR on San Emigdio Mountain, just one peak over!
At the time of this activation, the Angeles National Forest was closed due to fires, so my SOTA efforts move to the Santa Monica Mountains. Saddle Peak is a 2 point summit and is well hiked by locals. An quick mile up, and a mile down makes this an easy summit to bag, but please note there isn’t much shade. At the summit, paragliders were starting their flights to the beach in Malibu. Worked 20M SSB/ CW and 30M CW.
The forests in California have all been closed to reduce the potential for fire, which means, tons of SOTA summits in W6 are off limits, however, there are tons of desert summits on BLM land which also qualify for a summer bonus. Looking at a map, I decided to hike Bell Mountain, and Little Bell Mountain, 2 points each with 3 bonus points. I left Los Angeles around 8am and headed to Apple Valley, then made my way to the trailhead via a dirt road. The hike was well defined with a bit of scrambling, which I found quite enjoyable. At the top, you will find a post flying an American flag cemented into the ground. Here there was a swarm of seemingly angry flying ants. Because if this I set my station up off to the side, adjacent to a small rock outcropping which offered a tiny bit of relief from the blazing sun. Worked KK6FR on 1.2GHz, then again on 70cm C4FM. Put spots out on 20m SSB, 40m SB and 30m CW. As the day proceeded I lost all my shade, which was my cue to start hiking down. Thanks for all the chasers!
I started hiking up to 3690 just before sunset. The area where I was parked is used for target practice, as evident by discarded household items riddled with bullet holes and spent shells littering the ground. Hopefully, nobody would show up and start shooting at the hillside I was climbing up. or coming down. At the top, I was greeted with a beautiful sunset and warm desert winds. I setup my antenna mast in a pile of rocks and spotted myself on 40m SSB. No takers at all. Spotted myself on 40m CW, no luck there either. As it got dark, my mast fell over in the wind. Digging through my pack, it seems I forgot my headlight! Unable to fix the antenna system in the dark, I turned to the HT. Made two QSOs on 70cm simplex, C4FM digital. Moved to 2M FM and was greeted by KN6EZE, who called out on a local repeater asking people to chase me on simplex. Made enough contacts to qualify this summit. Thanks Mike! I packed up the radios and hiked down with a small light. I think it would be rad to camp up here on a warm summer night, maybe next year!
This summit is just outside of Mammoth Lakes and worth the journey if you’re in the area. I started out from my campsite off Owens River Road, and meandered through various forest roads on the moto to get as close to 8126 as I could. There are quite a bit of small spur trails in this area and my GPS isn’t granular enough to navigate the correct intersections, which meant, I needed to travel down a spur a few 100 feet before the GPS would indicate which road I was actually on. Often times, I was wrong and had to turn around. Eventually, I got as close to the summit as I could. A large tree blocked a road which goes to the top. I stopped here and hiked the rest of the way up a short, but steep, rocky and rutted path. At the top, there was little shade, and it was hot. Worked 20m and 40m SSB, and had a S2S with N6MKW on 2m, who found and returned an antenna I lost on Mt. Pacifico in the San Gabriels. Thanks again!
Dry Creek Knoll is just outside Mammoth Lakes and, a pretty easy summit to bag if you’re in the area. This could be a drive up, but I don’t think a sedan would make it. I took Mammoth Scenic Loop from Hwy 395, then took one of the several off-highway roads and meandered up to the top by loosely following my GPS. Once near the summit, I parked the moto off the side of the road and hiked the rest of the way. At the very top is a small rock pile, which wasn’t a great place to setup my vertical and spread out the radials. I ended up setting up slightly off to the side of these rocks. Worked 20m, 40m SSB, and 30m CW. One S2S to Washington State on 20m.
Snow Benchmark is just off 3N17, which was closed for 11 years to motorized traffic. I was planing on riding a mountain bike to this summit from Sand Canyon, but the forest service opened the road which allowed me to drive my van right below the summit. From there, it’s 1/2 mile round trip hike. Worked 2m FM, 20m SSB, and 10m CW, three s2s contacts.
From North Shore Drive near Fawnskin, take 2N09 to roughly 34.28215, -116.91535 – near a gate. I parked my van here and rode a mountain bike most of the way, pushing where it got too steep, or the rocks were too loose to get any meaningful traction. At the top were two radio shelters and various towers. I setup just outside the fence of the highest building. Hearing activity on 2M, I puled out the HT and made a few contacts there, all of whom were camping with the SOTA group. Quickly made several additional contacts on 40m, then packed down the equipment and headed on down the hill before it got too dark.
7940 is the second summit I activated for the SoCal Sota Fest up in Big Bear. After waking up at camp, I headed across the Holcomb Valley via 3N16 and parked the van just off the side of the road when I was close enough to the summit. I heard this would be easy to cycle, so brought my mountain bike and started climbing up. The road was recently graded and somewhat hard packed in some areas, so it was a pretty easy ride. Turns out this whole area is a strip mine, and these roads were graded for mining efforts. Other than a few parked earth moving machines, there was no actual mining activity, or official personal around at all. When I got to the the highest point I could find, I still wasn’t at the actual summit according to the GPS map; the actual summit had turned into a giant pit! Across this large pit, I could see two other stations in an area with some flora left, I think it was N1CLC and KX6I? After working a few stations on 2M, and SSB, two other hams came up to the summit, AE6NH and KG6MWQ, who setup a 4 element yagi for 2M. My HT picked up at least one packet from the APRS digipeater in Goldfield, NV, they pointed their beam that way. Worked 20m, 40m SSB, 30m CW and 2m FM. I packed my station up and blasted down the hill on the MTB. Excited to be in the shade with an ice cold drink from my cooler, I realized my GPS was not with me anymore, so I hiked all the way back up to the summit looking for it. Luckily I found it on the ground, a short distance from the gate.