W6/SD-128 – Daggett Ridge

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.


Total distance: 3.93 mi
Max elevation: 4090 ft
Total climbing: 1640 ft
Total time: 03:43:29
Download file: Daggett_Ridge_W6_SD_128.gpx

Date:13/01/2024 |  Summit:W6/SD-128 (Daggett Ridge)

21:33K6STR144MHzFMS59 R59 S2S W6/SD-010
21:34W6LOR144MHzFMS59 R59 S2S W6/SD-010
21:37KN6FNY144MHzFMS59 R59
21:38KD7DTS144MHzFMS55 R55 S2S W6/CT-015
21:48NW7E7MHzCWS52N R53N
21:49NT6E7MHzCWS599 R55N
21:50K6YK7MHzCWS55N R57N
21:51WA6KYR7MHzCWS57N R55N
21:52WB7ULD7MHzCWS56N R53N
21:54KD7DTS7MHzCWS55N R55N S2S W6/CT-015
21:55W6TDX7MHzCWS53N R53N
21:56KN6OMN7MHzCWS58N R599
21:57N6AN7MHzCWS52N R54N S2S W6/CT-225
21:57WB6POT7MHzCWS599 R599
21:58K6MAA7MHzCWS57N R53N
22:00W6KME7MHzCWS599 R599
22:07KN6FNY144MHzFMS59 R59 S2S W6/SD-060
22:07KN6RDC144MHzFMS59 R59 S2S W6/SD-060
22:16N6XZN144MHzFMS55 R55 S2S W6/SD-442

W6/SD-116 – Su Casa Benchmark

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.


Date:13/01/2024 |  Summit:W6/SD-116 (Su Casa Benchmark) 

18:06KN6FNY144MHzFMS59 R59 S2S W6/SD-049
18:18W0MNA28MHzCWS59 R59
18:18W0ERI28MHzCWS59 R59
18:19KC3RT28MHzCWS44N R33N
18:21KC1MXB28MHzCWS55N R54N
18:23KF9D28MHzCWS58N R55N
18:33N4LAG18MHzCWS42N R55N
18:34WU0A18MHzCWS55N R54N
18:35AC7P18MHzCWS42N R55N
18:36WW7D18MHzCWS55N R57N
18:38WB2FUV18MHzCWS51N R33N
18:41WB8BHN18MHzCWS515 R51N
18:44KN6RDC144MHzFMS59 R59
18:45W6LOR144MHzFMS59 R59
18:47K6STR144MHzFMS59 R59

W6/SC-338 – Black Mountain

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.


Total distance: 4.01 mi
Max elevation: 1547 ft
Total climbing: 770 ft
Total time: 02:12:52
Download file: W6_SC_338_Black_Mountain.gpx

Date:18/11/2023 |  Summit:W6/SC-338 (Black Mountain)

21:07W9SSN24MHzCWS599 R599
21:08W0MNA24MHzCWS599 R599
21:09W0ERI24MHzCWS599 R599
21:09K0LAF24MHzCWS58N R55N
21:13WW7D24MHzCWS33N R33N S2S W7W/SK-172
21:15WU7H24MHzCWS44N R53N S2S W7W/SK-172
21:23W6LOR144MHzFMS55N R55N S2S W6/CT-242
21:23K6STR144MHzFMS51N R55N S2S W6/CT-242
21:307N1FRE18MHzCWS31N R31N
21:30K6CPR18MHzCWS599 R53N CO
21:32N4LAG18MHzCWS55N R54N
21:43WG0AT18MHzCWS55N R57N

W6/SC-460 – 906

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.


Total distance: 1.06 mi
Max elevation: 865 ft
Total climbing: 146 ft
Total time: 01:13:54
Download file: W6_SC_460_906.gpx

Date:18/11/2023 |  Summit:W6/SC-460 (906) 

23:40JP3DGT/328MHzCWS41N R41N S2S JA/HG-250
23:44LW2DO28MHzCWS57N R55N
23:49JF1OVA28MHzCWS55N R44N
23:507N1FRE28MHzCWS57N R52N
23:58JH7IOT21MHzCWS57N R51N

Date:19/11/2023 |  Summit:W6/SC-460 (906) 

00:03JG0AWE21MHzCWS33N R55N
00:06WU7H21MHzCWS33N R33N S2S W7W/RS-088
00:07ZL1TM21MHzCWS55N R52N
00:08JA1VVH21MHzCWS55N R52N
00:15K5XS18MHzCWS599 R52N
True summit is past this bench.

W6/SC-335 – Cowles Mountain

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.


Total distance: 1.52 mi
Max elevation: 1568 ft
Total climbing: 885 ft
Total time: 00:45:11
Download file: W6_SC_335_Cowles_Mountain.gpx

Date:18/11/2023 |  Summit:W6/SC-335 (Cowles Mountain) 

18:08KU4R28MHzCWS55N R53N
18:10LW2DO28MHzCWS52N R52N
18:11W9SSN28MHzCWS599 R599
18:22F4WBN18MHzCWS55N R599
18:23N0DNF18MHzCWS55N R44N
18:23N4LAG18MHzCWS55N R53N
18:24W0MNA18MHzCWS58N R57N
18:25W0ERI18MHzCWS58N R57N
18:26K6CPR18MHzCWS58N R599 CO
18:28KX0R18MHzCWS57N R57N S2S W0C/FR-205
18:29KK2B18MHzCWS51N R31N

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.