Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kratka Ridge W6/CT-014

It was a nice day for an activation on Kratka Ridge.  The temperature was in the low 70's and I had the mountain to myself.  The ski resort has been closed since the 2001-2002 season.  The distance to the top is relatively short, .82 miles, but a steep hike.  The elevation gain is nearly 750 feet.

I parked across the street from the ski lifts, as I thought I saw a "No Parking" sign in the area below the lifts. I didn't want to take any chances of getting a parking ticket.  I crossed the street and climbed about 50' to a flat area near the ski lifts.  I then followed a dirt road as it climbed to the top.

The road offers several views of the old ski lift.  It would be nice if it were operational again to take a ride to the top.

Roxy took a break on the way up and waited for me to catch up.  I didn't take her on my last couple treks due to the terrain and warm weather.  She was happy to go on this hike.

The ski lift goes nearly to the top of the ridge.  Looking at the lift, it was as if they just turned it off and walked away.  Being a huge fan of the television show, "The Walking Dead," I thought this would be a great place to film an episode.  The possibilities are endless for filming a zombie scene from here for the show.

At the end of the dirt road is a short path to the ridge.  I was on the ridge less than 15 seconds when Bob, KB6CIO, contacted me on 2 meters.  It was somewhat comical trying to have a conversation with Bob when I was out of breath.  

There are plenty of trees on the ridge to hang an antenna. Not knowing the area, I did bring my "Black Widow" in case there were not enough trees.  I had a few problems setting up my antenna.  I tied some rope to a rock and I kept missing the branch I wanted.  When I finally got the correct branches for both ends of the antenna, I began to raise the antenna and realized the trees were too close together.  I had to start over using other trees.

Roxy settled in for her nap as I worked the radio.

The downed tree made a great spot to set my equipment on.  There are several places on the ridge for setting up antennas and your equipment.  All locations on the ridge offer awesome views.

The views were real nice from the ridge.  I sat on the rocks in the second picture, overlooking deep canyons, while working 2 meters on my HT.

On my way down, I stopped and located the geocache on the mountain.  The last entry was from Bob, KB6CIO, nearly three months ago.  I learned from my trek to Mt. Lawlor last week, to look for the geocache AFTER the activation.  This cache had a "Pinky" ball in it.  Nearly 40 years ago, we used those for playing some serious hand ball when we were kids.  Roxy couldn't understand why I wouldn't throw the ball for her to chase as we do when I am at home.

I had a great time today on Kratka Ridge.  On the way home, I scouted out the road to Pacifico Mtn. for a future activation and stopped for one more geocache, finding a trackable geocoin.



40m - W7RV, N0OI, AA7DK, W7USA, K6EL

Thank you chasers!!!!!        

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mt. Lawlor W6/CT-089

Parking for Mt. Lawlor is at Redbox, a nice drive up the Angeles Crest Highway.  The hike is about 2.75 miles each way with an elevation gain of 1300'.  For those that like to geocache, there are a few caches along the way, beginning at Redbox.  I arrived at 6:20 am to get a jump on the heat.  It took me two hours to get to the peak.  That included ten minutes of time I spent retracing my steps when I thought I lost my GPS. After retracing my steps for about five minutes, I realized that the GPS had shifted across the chest strap on my backpack.  DUH!  I also spent 10-15 minutes on the way up searching for a geocache.  That was too much time spent looking for the cache when it was probably burned up in the "Station Fire."

The trail begins across the street and a little north from Redbox.   The beginning of the trail is well marked with a couple sign posts and directly behind you is a street sign indicating the distance to Glendale and Mt. Wilson.  The trail was in excellent condition.  I was the only one on the trail and it was an easy hike to the junction at 2.11 miles.  In fact, the hike was so easy compared to others in the San Gabriel mountains, I was beginning to feel guilty about not bringing Roxy.  She saw me loading up this morning and really wanted to go.

The junction offers some nice views of the surrounding area.  I recent;y purchased the 16' "Black Widow" and I wanted to test it out today.  It is a minimum of five pounds lighter than my Jackite.  I noticed the lighter pack weight and I felt really good when I reached the junction.  The .60 miles from the junction to the peak is a difficult hike with a a 725/ elevation gain, often climbing over rocks.  Roxy would have struggled with this section of trail.

Although the area has shown some good recovery from the 2009 fire, there is plenty of evidence that a fire roared through here.

It felt good to see the top of the mountain, as I was tired from that last section of trail from the junction.  Be sure and wear pants for this hike, as you walk through several patches of brush after the junction.

I have been using the 31' Jackite with good success.  I wanted to try something lighter for a couple higher elevation treks I have planned, so I wasn't sure how the 16' "Black Widow" would work out. I tried something new and connected the insulator at the "Black Widow" and sloped the antenna with the matchbox about five feet above the ground.  I wanted to test this to see if I could get by with less than the 50' of coax I pack.  It worked out well and I had most signal reports in the 5/5 range.  The added antenna length of the 40 meter appeared to not work out that well.

After I packed up, I realized I should have tossed some rope up in these trees and raise the matchbox end of the 40 meter antenna 25-30'.

After I finished with the activation, I looked around for the geocache.  It was last seen in 2009 before the fire.  The broken, porcelain disc is the only thing I could find at the geocache location.  I speculate the cache was destroyed in the fire.

Mt. Lawlor offered several views of neighboring SOTA peaks.  I liked this picture with Hoyt Mountain in the foreground and Mt. Lukens in the background.  Both are SOTA peaks.

On the hike down, I had to share the trail with three mountain bikers.  I was impressed they could ride on this narrow trail, as there is quite a drop off in some areas.  I also came across three groups of hikers going up.  They all said they were going to the more popular "Strawberry Peak."

A couple things I learned on this trip.  First, is to bring more water water during the summer months.  I finished my two pints with about 100 yards left on the trail (I had more in the car).  Second, spend less time looking for the geocache on the way up.  It cost me some time and energy on the way up stopping to check for the first geocache.

I had one Summit to Summit contact with KF5NBB from W5A/BR-002, Boat Mountain, in Arkansas.  I had the following contacts:



40m - KB6CIO

Thank you to all chasers and spotters!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Motorcycle Camping Trip - Geocaching

Teresa and I headed up the coast on the motorcycle for a few days, camping at Carpinteria State Beach and El Capitan Beach.  It was tough to leave the radio equipment at home, as we passed a few activation locations on our trip.  The weather was perfect and once we got north of Los Angeles, there wasn't much traffic.  In addition to some awesome riding, we stopped at a few geocaches along the way.  We  have a lot of fun together locating the caches.

Just north of Ventrua, we exited the 101 and rode on the Pacific Coast Highway.  We stopped for our first geocache at Emma Wood State Beach.  It was an easy find and a nice place to stretch.

The first night we camped at Carpinteria State Beach.  We have been camping here over 20 years.  Years ago, we started camping here with a tent and moved up to a travel trailer for many years.  Now that the boys are grown and on their own, Teresa and I are back to tent camping.  My younger son and I did a lot of backpacking when he was in scouts.  Fortunately, I saved all of my backpacking equipment, which fits nicely on the motorcycle.  The campground was full, as it always is during the summer.

After setting up camp and making some coffee, we set out to locate a couple geocaches along the beach.

One of the caches at Carpinteria was hidden inside of a hollowed out log.  The log is the type used for a hide-a-key. The log looked like a natural part of the vegetation in the area.


On day 2, we rode up to Santa Barbara, cut up the 154 to the Santa Ynez Valley and Solvang, before setting camp at El Capitan State Beach.  We stopped for lunch at the "Cold Spring Tavern,"  The tavern began as a rest stop in 1868.  I highly recommend a stop here if in the area.  Teresa made a four legged friend.  After lunch, we located the nearby geocache with a little work.  It was well hidden.

Back on the road from the Tavern, we stopped for a geocache at a location called "Suicide Tree."  It was sad to see several crosses set up as memorials to those who had taken their lives at these trees and the bridge.  As of 2011, 55 people had taken their lives by jumping off the Cold Springs Bridge.  Since a suicide barrier was built on the bridge in 2012, at least two people still committed suicide from the bridge.  Please call someone if you need help.

Night 2 found us setting up camp at El Capitan State Beach.  We once camped here nearly 20 years ago. Unlike Carpinteria, it is a walk down/up a hill.  Without small children this time, we didn't mind the walk and enjoyed the larger campsites.

After showers and coffee, we headed out for geocaching near the beach at El Captian.  It was a fun way to explore the area.

On day 3, we packed up and rode home after making breakfast.  We stopped in Fillmore for gas and coffee at Starbucks, before the final leg of our ride home.  We had a great time,  Although I have been on multi-day rides before, this is the first time Teresa came with me.  She really enjoyed it and wants to go again.  All is good!