I’ve passed by this summit several times but never made the effort to activate it. The trail up is pretty obvious, just follow it along the ridge line up to the top. It’s pretty steep with loose soil in some sections so be careful. Also, watch out for snakes! Worked 20M, 40M with 5 S2S contacts. Not bad! From here I continued on and activated W6/CT-167, which is nearby.
This was my second summit of the day, activating W6/CT-265 earlier. Whatever you do, don’t use my GPS tracks to find your way up to this peak. I was 100% off making the ascent, however, I think I was mostly correct going back down to the start on Aliso Canyon Road.
Kel, Esther, Lars, and myself setoff on bicycles to reach the summit of Magic Mountain, which was used by the Marquardt Corporation as a rocket engine test facility. At the top, there are modern radio towers, and two large tanks which held water to cool the rocket engines under test on the pads below. The ride started near Bear Divide, off Little Tujunga Canyon Road, and follows the Santa Clara Truck Trail. Immediately you’re presented with an 8% ~ 11% grade, which lasts for around 2 miles. After a few hundred feet of slight downhill, you get right back to a steep grade for another 4 miles or so. Around mile 6, the paved road will make a sharp left turn through a gate, which leads up to the summit. We found intense winds and cold air at the top which made our time at the summit short. I worked 17M, and 40M. UHF/ VHF might be tough up here without filters due to the proximity to the big radio towers.
This is the second time I’ve activated Josephine Peak. I rode bicycles up with my wife, E, and Lars. Cold weather and brutal winds kept me off the HF bands as the antenna mast wouldn’t have stood up. Worked 2M FM and 10M SSB. Not much has changed up there, see my previous activation report here for more info.
My pal E.Bun had been taking about hiking Ice House Canyon for a few weeks. This is a pretty popular hiking destination in Southern California which I really knew nothing about, as I have only been in that part of the San Gabriels once, maybe 15 years ago. After some research, I thought to myself “Oh, there are SOTA summits up there? I’m in!”. It’s a longer hike than I normally enjoy, and since it’s popular, you need to be at the trailhead ridiculously early or risk missing out on a parking space. I only brought an HT, with the idea that I could do a UHF only activation. Since this is a popular summit, I didn’t want wires everywhere. I enjoyed the additional bonus of a lighter pack.
I was awake at 4:30AM, at the trailhead just before 6AM. The parking lot was filling up like an In-N-Out burger drive thru. Groups pf people were gathering at the bottom, ready to hike. The majority of people were not wearing masks, which in the middle of the Corona Virus outbreak, really bothers me – to the point where I was reconsidering the trip. We started on the trail just after 6AM just after first light. E.Bun was hiking fast, full steam ahead, and I needed to shed my jacket after about 15 minutes. Around about 4 miles of constant uphill, we reached Ice House Saddle, where several large, unmasked groups were congregating there. We found a nice spot away from everyone upwind, on a small hill in the sun to take a short break and figure out what we were going to do.
One large group split off and headed to Timber Mountain. “Not going there”. Another large group split off to Ontario Peak. “Not going there either”. The only option left was Cucamonga, which we didn’t see any large groups heading up so of we hiked! This trail was much less traveled than Ice House which made me feel a lot better. Additionally, it was much more scenic and a bit more technical. Eventually the trail turned to ice on the north side of the mountain – when the trail winds around to the south side, one could imagine it’s the middle of summer. A short trek through ‘deep’ snow and we made it to the summit, well, almost. The actual summit was full of maskless people taking photos with the summit sign for their Instagram account. We stoped a bit further east, away from everyone.
We both took some time to relax and enjoy the views, eat lunch, and chat about the hike up. E.Bun went to meditate. I pulled out the HT, spotted myself on 446.000 via APRS and started calling CQ. I worked 15 stations on 70cm in about 30 minutes, which honestly surprised me. Satisfied with the contacts I made, and knowing there was a long hike down to the trailhead, we packed up and started heading down. This is where it got annoying. The trail is narrow and most hikers coming up were not wearing masks. You need to come really close to another person to pass, otherwise you’re just going to stand there all day. Other places, large maskless groups were occupying the narrow trail, giving very little room to pass.
We made it back to the trailhead around 3:30. I are a burrito and drank half a quart of water at the car. I’m not sure I’ll do this trail again on a weekend, even after everyone gets vaccinated. Way too many people – hopefully we didn’t catch Corona Virus, please be respectful and wear a mask when around other on our trails.
Mt. Emma had been on my radar for awhile, but the lower elevation and lack of shade pushed this down my list until cooler months arrived. My wife and I wanted to get out of the house, so this was a perfect spontaneous activity on a cool November day. Start on Mt. Emma road – there is a small parking area directly across from the trailhead, and a small sign lets you know you’re at the right place. At first the trail winds through chaparral up the first hill. After about 10 minutes of hiking, you will discover the trail was replaced with a recent fire break, most likely in response to the Bobcat Fire. Follow the fire break all the way up to the summit. It’s quite steep, my GPS reported a 15% ~ 30% grade. At the top, I found the summit marker, but no benchmark. Maybe it was destroyed by a land clearing machine? I also observed red fire retardant on the ground, the kind dropped form aircraft. Interestingly, it appeared that this was dropped before the land was cleared. I setup a long wire antenna into my Yaesu 817, self spotted via APRS. Made a few contacts on 20M, tried 17M with no luck, then moved to 40M and made several more with one summit to summit. I look forward to activating this again in a years time to see how the plants recover. Maybe I should plant a native tree up there?
Iron Mountain is one of those summits in Southern California which hasn’t been activated too many times, and for a good reason. It’s a long hike, or in my case, a long, hard bicycle ride. I started at Dillon Divide full of energy ready to tackle the summit around 11am, but quickly found this bike ride to be laborious, not because of the distance or the uphill grade, but because the road was covered in rocks ranging in size from a softball, to large marbles. Trying to put any kind of effort into the rear wheel resulted in a tire without traction. In the worst spots on the trail, the front wheel was bobbing around left and right, looking for traction as well! Needless to say, I had to push the bike up most of the way.
Fallen trees and rock slides along the way made this hike with a bike more difficult. After a few hours of climbing over fallen trees, through deep gravel – wanting to give up and turn around, I made it to the bottom of the summit. Of course, I didn’t do any research on how to actually get to the top so I spent some time looking at contour maps to find the least steep route. This turned out to be an old fire break, which was quite over grown and not really visible. At the top, the benchmark was easy to find. I signed the summit log, which was last signed in May.
Daylight was running out quickly, so I setup my station as fast as I could and made enough HF contacts to qualify the summit, switching over to VHF for additional contacts while breaking down the long wire antenna. As the sun started to dip below the horizon, I started the hike down to my bike, which I left near the road up. It was twilight, but the bike I was riding has a dynamo front wheel that generates light. Going downhill was somewhat easier than going up. You see, I’m riding a bike with somewhat skinny tires and brakes that don’t work well at all. This trip would have been better on a different bike! About a quarter of the way down, it was pitch black. Ten miles plus endless switchbacks and large rock dodging, in addition to severely cramped hands and not enough light required laser focused concentration, but I made it down safely, with all my gear – tired, beat up, cold and hungry. All in all, this was pretty tough and I can’t wait to do it again.
Forest road 3N17 is open, so I decided to activate Iron Mountain again, but from from the other direction; Mount Gleason area. I drove my SOTA mobile about as far as I was comfortable, ending up just to the side of Lightning Point campground. You could drive another mile or so down the narrow dirt road until you reach a locked gate. From here, you hike down to the summit! I think this is a first for me. The trail is mostly exposed, so bring extra water.
I’ve been looking for more summits which are accessible by dual sport motorcycle, and the western edge of the Angeles National Forest seems to have a few from what I can gather via internet research. I just need to ride around the area and see how accessible they are. This summit is just off BPL Road, which I believe, is private. However, the roads are in the forest, which is open. It shouldn’t be an issue to use the land so off I went. Near the summit, I parked the moto off the side of the road and followed the ridge line up to the top. An inverted triangle post was used to hold a QRP Guys end fed tuner, with 41′ of wire stretched out to a collapsible fishing pole. I worked 20M, 40M, and 2M. One summit to summit contact on FM. There are a few more 2 and 4 point summits in the area, which I hope to activate soon.