Thursday, October 1, 2015

Recent Activations Out West

I've been very busy lately with a variety of seemingly important things and I thought it was about time to write a little. In the past few weeks I've had the rare opportunity, in combination with a couple of business trips to do a few SOTA activations in California and Utah. A few words about those.


I was in Northern California, of all tough places to be, Napa. While having a look at the nearby summits I discovered that all the nearby summits were 1 or 2 pointers. Should be easy right. Well not so much. One of the inequities of SOTA, albeit well understood, is that elevation is the major determinant of point value, not length of climb or difficulty. Although all of that tends to even out over time if you do enough summits. I used my MTR II configured for 17M, 20M and 30M. I brought my LNR Trail friendly 40/20m antenna and a T1 Elecraft Tuner. The tuner failed, so I could only operate on 20m exclusively.

Mt. Diablo

This is a video from Mt. Diablo, W6/CC-045, near Walnut Creek, CA. While only a two pointer it is a substantial mountain rising up from near sea level to 3,800 ft. ASL. It is a drive up, so easy enough from an activation point of view and the views are excellent.
Sulphur Springs Mountain
This summit, W6/NC-406, is accessed through a local golf community named Hidden Brooke. Access is not forbidden and there is a nice trail to the top. The vertical gain is a little over 1,000 ft. over about 1.5 miles and it is a one pointer. Below a  short video from the top.
There is no doubt that you earn the one point. While the hike is not hard, I've had much easier hikes for many more points. Nice views from the top.
Pt. 970
This summit, W6/NC-422, can be done in tandem with Sulphur Springs Mountain, which I did. It is a more substantial hike with a 5.0 mile round trip. Not a difficult hike, it has a nice trail to the summit, but again you earn the one point. I got nice workout and I got to play radio on top.
My activations in Utah were at much higher elevations than the Northern California Coast. The two activations that I did were near Park City which sits around 7,000 ft. ASL. My wife accompanied me on these activations and we had some wonderful weather to hike in.
Scott Hill
The summit, W7U/SL-008, sits at 10,118 ft. ASL and is an 8 pointer. The hike is along nice trail/road. The road is closed to private traffic and on even numbered days the mountain bikers are out in force. However that's not a problem as everyone is courteous and respectful. This would be my 100th unique summit to activate in the SOTA program which is a nice milestone to cross. The hike is a 4 mile round trip and the final ascent to the summit is steep and you will like have to set-up in quite a steep pitch. Views are wonderful.

View from Scott Hill
Scott Hill in the Distance

Quarry Mountain

This summit, W7U/NU-067, is not the most scenic and the trail winds through a lot of scrub brush. There is a little more cover on top and so some shade to set up the station. It is a 2 mile round trip and is a 6 pointer. It was my second activation on a day that netted 14 points. Below is a short video from the summit.

So, my trip out west showed me some more of the variety that makes SOTA such a rewarding and enjoyable pursuit. A few more points and a few more summits and another memorable experience.

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