This was the second summit E and I climbed for the 2024 So.Cal Winter SOTA Fest. We parked the truck in a small box canyon and scrambled up a wash to a ridge line, at which point it became a class 2 hike, eventually leveling out flat again. The top is large and flat, so plenty of room for antennas. Worked 40M and 2M only as it was pretty windy and the temperature was dropping quickly as the day was coming to an end. We scrambled down a different way which was kinda sketchy. I recommend the ridge route over just going straight down. Back at the truck we headed over to the camp to meet the others crawling around the hills in the area. The weather forecast predicted the temps in the low 30’s with strong wind. E and I noped out of that situation, got a hotel room in Barstow, and had a nice dinner at a pretty good Mexican restaurant.
This is the first summit of four E and I completed for Winter SOTA Fest 2024. Until my activation, this was only activated once in 2012 – 12 years earlier. I’m not sure why. Hiking around this was really fun, the rocks were interesting, and it wasn’t that hard of a climb. I’d definitely some back to this one. Worked 7 and 14m CW. After packing up we chose to hike a different way down, through a wash with large boulders to make it a loop.
This was the second summit of the day for So.Cal Winter SOTA Fest, having just finished up Su Casa Benchmark to the north. I missed a open clearing to park off the narrow dirt road and couldn’t turn around after realizing my mistake, so I ended up parking a bit further away. After slathering on sunscreen, E and I started hiking up the summit, following a track provided by Kevin, the event organizer. After getting through a wash and dry waterfall we started the steeper climb up out of a box canyon. I kept thinking of my great uncle, Jack, who lost a leg in WWII. He would always joke that the lack of a leg was an advantage when walking sideways across a hill. I think he might have been comfortable than me because most of this hike is side-hilling. The summit was super windy, so I only worked 40M and 2M. On the way down, we took a much better route as we had gone through a sketchy area on the way up.
I activated this summit with E. for So.Cal Winter SOTA Fest 2024. Having worked Kevin on this same peak the day before on two meters, it became an attractive target to get a complete in the log. This is basically a drive up, but the last bit is steep and washed out. The trail stops on a ridge where there isn’t much room to turn around. You probably want 4×4. If I were to do this again, I would park at the end of the easy two-track road when it starts making it’s way up a hill and just hike – It’s not that far. You will know what I’m talking about when you get there.
It was pretty windy getting out of the truck on the ridge, but surprisingly it was pretty calm at the summit. I worked high bands with the 817 and a vertical, and worked 2M for locals and other Winter SOTA Fest operators who were also crawling around on hills in the area. After exhausting the chasers, E. and I headed over to Daggett Ridge.
This was a nice, relatively easy hike up; I didn’t know there was a communications site at the top, so I was a bit surprised. While setting up my 817 Kel and I watched para-gliders fly back and fourth gaining altitude until they were out of sight. There was a cold wind blowing at the summit, so the para-gliders must have been extra cold with their extra altitude. Worked the high bands, heard my 2M radio squawk which turned out to be another SOTA station up in Los Angeles. We hiked down the same way and got on the freeway North to try and beat some commuter traffic back to L.A.
This summit is right off I5 by the San Clemente Denny’s, the one with the neon sign. Access is easy – park in the cul-de-sac at the end of Del Dios and walk up the obvious path, then turn right. If you pass an old AT&T long lines tower you went the wrong way. Most of this is paved. The true summit is just off the paved path. At the top I setup my Yaesu 817 and worked high bands. Japan was booming in with good signal reports both ways. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I crossed the UTC time threshold, so this ended up being two activations on separate days. As the sun set, I packed up and headed back to the car.
Kel and I woke up at our hotel in Point Loma, grabbed some breakfast and headed to Cowles Mountain. It was obvious at the trailhead that this is a popular place to hike. We had to pace ourselves, otherwise the potential for getting stuck directly behind a slower group hiking several abreast unaware of their surroundings was real. At the top were several groups relaxing and chatting. Because of all the people, I used high band (shorter) antennas to keep myself out of the way. After working two bands, I packed up and headed to the next summit. I’m not sure I’ll do this one again.
Kel and I made a completely random trip down to San Diego to eat seafood, drink beers, and visit some summits. Before checking into our room in Point Loma, we headed east on Mission Valley Freeway, exiting on Fuerte Drive. From there, the GPS guided us to the top. We parked on the side of the road and walked around the amphitheater before finding the very top. I brought my Yaesu 817 to work high bands with a short antenna. I don’t think there would be a good spot for a full length EFHW without getting in the way, but maybe I didn’t explore the area enough. A security guard was curious what I was doing and after explaining, concluded I wasn’t a threat haha. After 30 minutes or so, I packed everything down and we headed back to the coast.
Kel and I started this trip from Mill Creek Summit at the intersection of Pacifico Mountain Road (3N17) and Angels Forest Highway. From there we took a Subaru all the way down Pacifico Mountain Road, past Alder saddle to Little Rock Canyon Road and stopped at a locked gate. I was surprised to see several hunting groups here meeting up to head out of the forest after a long night. It’s deer season, but the hunters I spoke to said they didn’t see any deer this year.
No time was wasted after arriving at the trailhead so we quickly started hiking down 5N04 to a fire break that runs up to Bare Mountain. This is on the left side of the forest road by a water culvert. See the attached .gpx for more details. The hike is steep with several false summits. There is no tree cover or shade of any type so the name of this summit is appropriate. For me, hiking this in the summer would be uncomfortable. At the top, I worked 40m, 30m, and 2m, with 4 S2S QSOs. The return trip was the same as the accent. I don’t know why it took me so long to visit this mountain; I really enjoyed everything about it and will be back next year to activate again.
I read that 1N34 was open for deer hunting season which means there is access to Buck Point. I started out by driving out from Los Angeles to the 15, getting off on Sierra Avenue, then continuing straight until Lytle Creek road. From here, there is a forest gate on the left which might be open. When we got there, it looked closed from the road, but upon further inspection, it was unlocked and slightly ajar – so perhaps wind blew it closed, or a hunter closed it to keep others out? Either way, my wife pushed it open and we drove through.
It’s a long way up a forest road, which gets narrower and rockier the further you travel. There are several switchbacks and not very many opportunities for two way traffic. About three quarters of the way there is a large commercial communications site. This is where the nice part of the forest road ends. You need to continue further down the road which is overgrown, rocky, and sorta steep. You will not make this in a 2wd car. I would be very uncomfortable in a 2wd high clearance vehicle. Your paint will get pinstriped from the woody brush.
Near our target, we parked the truck in an small clearing where the topo map lines of the summit seemed gentle, slathered on some sunscreen and attempted to find any kind of trail that would lead us to the top. I had read this was overgrown, so I brought some garden clippers to help maintain the trail. This effort was abandoned after 30 minutes of fighting through dense vegetation and making no gain in elevation. We turned around and went back to the truck to come up with another plan.
Leaving the truck we continued down the forest road on foot to a gps location AJ6KZ said was the trailhead in his write up about Buck Point. (34.21503, -117.53971). From the road, there was no obvious trail or carins in sight, but I shimmied myself up the steep embankment and scrambled up a field of loose rocks anyways. Kel followed. From here I saw a carin, then two, then areas where there was an obvious trail, which was very overgrown to the point it wasn’t visible in some places. We moved slowly, using garden clippers to open the trail back up for others after us.
Finally making it to the top, there is a seismic monitoring station, powered by a small solar array with a microwave data back-haul. There wasn’t enough room at the top to stretch out 40M worth or antenna, so I only worked 30m, 20m CW, 2m FM for the locals. After exhausting the chasers we headed back down which took no time at all. The sketchiest bit was the last 10 feet or to get back to the forest road.
Walking back to the truck I talked with Kel about how I wish I had worn long pants, as I was badly scraped and bleeding from all the thorny plants up there. Later that night I started getting blisters on my legs which erupted in yellow goo the following days – so in addition to the thorny plants guarding the summit, I also got into something poisonous even though I didn’t notice any poodle dog bush. Maybe it was something else? Either way, the effort was totally worth it, however, I don’t see myself making this trip again.