W6/SC-352 – Mount Helix

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.


Date:17/11/2023 |  Summit:W6/SC-352 (Mount Helix) 

22:50W9SSN18MHzCWS53N R55N
22:51AE7AP18MHzCWS58N R55N
22:53N4KGY18MHzCWS51N R55N
22:577N1FRE18MHzCWS51N R45N
23:00JH1MXV18MHzCWS22N R41N
23:10W0JSL21MHzCWS58N R51N
23:11W5GDW21MHzCWS58N R54N
23:12JH1MXV21MHzCWS55N R52N
23:15WW7D21MHzCWS57N R54N
23:17JA1VVH21MHzCWS55N R52N

W6/CT-082 – Bare Mountain

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.


Total distance: 5.16 mi
Max elevation: 6475 ft
Total climbing: 1837 ft
Total time: 04:05:51
Download file: W6_CT_082.gpx

Date:10/11/2023 |  Summit:W6/CT-082 (Bare Mountain) 

21:00KD7DTS144MHzFMS22 R45 S2S W6/CT-266
21:01NT6E144MHzFMS44 R59
21:02KI6SLA144MHzFMS55 R55
21:18NN7O7MHzCWS58N R53N
21:19KF6HI7MHzCWS57N R57N
21:20K6EL7MHzCWS55N R57N S2S W6/NC-423
21:21WB6POT7MHzCWS57N R599
21:31N7EDK10MHzCWS32N R54N
21:32AI6XG10MHzCWS57N R58N
21:36WU7H10MHzCWS21N R55N S2S W7W/WH-194
21:37WW7D10MHzCWS21N R51N S2S W7W/WH-194
21:38K7MAS10MHzCWS52N R55N
21:40WA7JTM10MHzCWS57N R57N
21:41KN6DMO10MHzCWS57N R56N
21:51KN6KS144MHzFMS59 R59

W6/CT-080 – Buck Point

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.


Total distance: 1.68 mi
Max elevation: 6433 ft
Total climbing: 691 ft
Total time: 03:23:39
Download file: Buck_Point.gpx

Date:02/11/2023 |  Summit:W6/CT-080 (Buck Point) 

20:59N6XZN144MHzFMS59 R59
21:00K6NOV144MHzFMS55 R59
21:01KK6JM144MHzFMS54 R59
21:11N7EDK10MHzCWS22N R33N
21:13K6HPX10MHzCWS57N R56N
21:13WB6POT10MHzCWS57N R55N
21:15WU7H10MHzCWS52N R43N
21:21KN6TMT144MHzFMS59 R59
21:23WW7D14MHzCWS55N R52N
21:24W0MNA14MHzCWS56N R55N
21:25KT5X14MHzCWS51N R33N
21:26W0ERI14MHzCWS56N R55N
21:27K7TCU14MHzCWS55N R55N
21:28K7ATN14MHzCWS31N R55N
21:28W6TDX14MHzCWS55N R55N
21:30WB7BWZ14MHzCWS55N R57N
21:31KX0Y14MHzCWS55N R55N
The forest road
More forest road
This is where we attempted to start the accent – no way through.
This is close to the road – note the steepness. I think that’s Cucamonga Peak – W6/CT-006 in the background. I believe you can take the forest road – 1N34 – to a trailhead which should take you up there as an alternative to Ice house Canyon.
Kel scrambling
The top. Not much here.
Scrambling down.

W6/ND-285 – 3951

This was our second summit of the day, having just come from Mesa Benchmark. While most of the trails in the area are in pretty good shape, driving the trail to the bottom of this summit was pretty rough in some places. I was happy to have 4L in two spots, although, I sure you could just “send it” and it would have been fine. I’m assuming there is a better way than the path I took.

The hike starts out pretty steep, tapering off to a flat ridge before one last final climb to the top. It’s around 1/2 mile one way, but a tad over 500′ of elevation gain. I setup my broken antenna which only works on 20M and started calling CQ. Made several S2S contacts to Washington State and Colorado which is always a treat.

After exhausting the chasers and packing up everything, we headed down the hill the way we came, then headed back to our camp.


Total distance: 0.99 mi
Max elevation: 3950 ft
Total climbing: 551 ft
Total time: 01:39:48
Download file: W6-ND-285.gpx

Date:07/10/2023 |  Summit:W6/ND-285 (3951)

20:01KM6FXK144MHzFMS59 R59
20:12KI7DAD14MHzCWS55N R599
20:14W7UM14MHzCWS55N R55N S2S W0C/FR-085
20:14F4WBN14MHzCWS54N R599
20:15N7CHN14MHzCWS53N R54N
20:17WU7D14MHzCWS57N R57N S2S W7W/CW-065
20:18WW7D14MHzCWS57N R57N S2S W7W/CW-065
20:19KX0R14MHzCWS57N R55N S2S W0C/FR-174
20:21KT0A14MHzCWS55N R56N S2S W0D/BB-024
20:22K7AMM14MHzCWS57N R52N
20:22N7EDK14MHzCWS55N R599
20:23NM5SXM14MHzCWS57N R55N
20:24AC7MA14MHzCWS57N R55N
20:25N7SE14MHzCWS52N R53N
Summit crew
View from the top, our camp way out in the distance on the dry lake bed.

W6/ND-268 (Mesa Benchmark)

Kel, E.Bun, R. and I woke up in the morning on the dry lake bed. Hoping to beat some of the desert heat, we quickly ate a light breakfast and headed over to Mesa Benchmark. Distance is deceiving – We could easily see this one from where we were camped, however it took about 45 minutes to actually get there over the rough desert terrain.

I parked the truck in an area which had been used for shooting, close to the gentlest contours on a topo map and started heading up. There is no trail I could find. After about 20 minutes or so, there is a class 3 section which will take some care to navigate. Once past this section, it’s mostly flat, like a …..mesa!

At the top, we signed the register. I setup my EFHW driven by a Mountain Topper radio. I was getting extremely high SWR on 40, and 30 meters, so I was limited to 20M. Turns out my antenna was broken somewhere. Made one QSO with Buck down at the camp on 2M FM.

We decided to take a different roue on the way down. This involved a sketchy class 3 hike down to the desert floor, with a lot of potential for someone to get hurt. Thankfully, we all made it down without injury. Overall, this was a perfect morning hike! If you use my .gpx track, don’t go down the way we did!


Total distance: 1.19 mi
Max elevation: 4131 ft
Total climbing: 646 ft
Total time: 02:02:58
Download file: W6-ND-268.gpx

Date:07/10/2023 |  Summit:W6/ND-268 (Mesa Benchmark) 

16:46KM6FXK144MHzFMS56 R59
17:01WB7BWZ14MHzCWS55N R55N
17:03K6MW14MHzCWS51N R55N
17:04N7CHN14MHzCWS55N R54N
17:05AK5SD14MHzCWS33N R42N S2S W5O/OU-018
17:07KX0R14MHzCWS44N R44N S2S W0C/FR-174
17:10AI5DD14MHzCWS51N R52N
Morning hike crew
That bump is the final climb to the top
Class 3 up
Heading down – This was sketchy, for me.

W6/ND-284 – Opal Mountain

This was the second summit of the day, having just come from a short activation of Waterman Hills. By surprise, my wife and I ran into our pal Buck on the corner of Copper Canyon Road and Irwin Road. He had come up from San Diego to camp with us, however I didn’t expect him to arrive to early. That being said, I invited him to hike up to Opal Mountain with us. On the way to the trailhead we stopped in various locations to look at petroglyphs, Indian circles, and possible places to camp in the future. A bit over an hour through the desert trails, we got to the start. The hike up is pretty steep and rocky, but short. I didn’t find a summit register or a benchmark. Worked 20M CW and headed down pretty quickly. Back at the truck we drank some beers and headed over to a dry lake where we were meeting other friends to camp.


Total distance: 0.78 mi
Max elevation: 3939 ft
Total climbing: 461 ft
Total time: 01:41:24
Download file: W6-ND-284.gpx

Date:06/10/2023 |  Summit:W6/ND-284 (Opal Mountain)

23:13K7AMM14MHzCWS55N R55N
23:13WW7D14MHzCWS57N R57N
23:14N7CNH14MHzCWS53N R52N
23:17AK5SD14MHzCWS44N R31N S2S W5A/CS-020
23:18N4LAG14MHzCWS56N R42N
23:20W5ODS14MHzCWS57N R57N
23:20K2LT14MHzCWS22N R22N
23:21WU7H14MHzCWS58N R55N
23:22N7EDK14MHzCWS51N R55N
23:23W7SKH14MHzCWS33N R55N
23:23KE5AKL14MHzCWS57N R55N
23:24W7CBR14MHzCWS22N R33N
23:25N4GO14MHzCWS55N R32N
23:26AK7U14MHzCWS57N R53N
Buck putting on socks, Opal in the background.
Kel is way ahead of Buck and myself
Views at the top
An attempt to capture the grade of the hill with the camera