Friday, September 12, 2014

Cerro Noroeste W6/SC-001

I am still recovering from a strained calf muscle and wanted to do an activation today.  As I can only do limited hiking, I needed to find a summit that I could drive most of the way.  With high temperatures in the LA basin, Cerro Noroeste at 8300 feet, seemed liked the perfect summit.  I left my house at 5AM and was at Forest Road 9N27 at about 6:30 AM.  From the 5 fwy, exit Frazier Mountain and drive towards Pine Mountain Club.  Turn left at Forest Road 9N27 (N 34 51 666 W 119 12 575), about three miles past Pine Mountain Club.  Follow the nicely paved road to the end at Campo Alto Campground.

As I got to the Forest Road very early, I did some geocaching along 9N27, picking up twelve geocaches.  The top picture was within 100 feet of my activation site and contained an arrowhead.  The bottom picture, the largest of the caches I found, was placed by a Boy Scout troop.  As one of my sons is an Eagle Scout, I had to find this one.  Brought back a lot of good memories of camping and backpacking with him.

Shortly after entering the Forest Road, I came to an open gate.  I was happy to see it was open.  If you come up during the winter, I would call the Ranger Station to make sure the gate is open.  At the top is Camp-O-Alto.  There is no charge to camp, but you do need an Adventure Pass.

There are several camp sites with tables in the activation zone.  There are also clean restrooms (clean by remote campground standards).  I was surprised that on a Friday, there was only one family camping.  There was orange tape across the top of each fire pit, prohibiting fires, due to the extreme fire danger.

There are plenty of trees in the area that will support an antenna.  I used the tree to the left of the table to support the matchbox end of my End Fed half wave antenna.  I used a tree to the north to support the other end.  My rock throwing is getting better and I had the antenna up in no time.  I used two antennas today, a 20m and a 40m.

By the time I finished setting up, Roxy was already settling in for her nap.  There was no verizon coverage, so I spotted myself via APRS from my HT.  I knew conditions were going to be difficult today and I was a little concerned when no one answered my CQ.  After a few minutes, Gary, W0MNA, came on the air and had me at 2/2 from Kansas,   Chasers began to trickle in and I was relieved when I had four contacts.  There was a lot of noise on 20m.  40m was better and I made a Summit to Summit with WN6E, Martin, who was on Betha Peak, W6/CT-054.  I did try 2m with no luck.    I am a member of the PAPA System and we can hit repeaters in most areas from the border to north of Santa Barbara.  I usually try to hit a repeater when I am out just in case of emergency.  No luck on the PAPA System, but I was able to make the Catalina Repeater.

There were some nice forest views from my activation site.  I was enjoying the cooler weather and in no rush to go home where it would be hot.

As I was packing up, Roxy was ready to go home.

As I headed down the hill, I stopped by this deserted ski lodge to check for a geocache.  After a lot of work, I found the cache.  It was fun exploring this place.

The drive up towards Cerro Noroeste provided some nice views of the surrounding mountains.

When out on a SOTA adventure, always be aware of the extreme fire danger in our mountains.

Although conditions were difficult today, I had a great time on Cerro Noroeste.  I am looking forward to coming back for a camping trip.  Thank you to all chasers and spotters!



Summit to Summit - WN6E 40m - Bertha Peak, W6/CT-054

Friday, September 5, 2014

Frazier Mtn. W6/CC-003

I strained my calf muscle a few weeks ago and haven't been able to get out for any exercise or SOTA activations due to the pain.  I decided to go to Frazier Mtn, as I knew I could drive to the top of the mountain.  It was an easy drive from the Crescenta Valley.  I took the 5 north to Frazier Mtn Park Rd., to Lockwood Valley Rd., to Frazier Mtn Rd., which becomes Forest Rte 8N04.  The roads are well marked and it is an easy drive.  I was at Frazier Mtn Road in about an hour from my house.

I got an early start so I decided to do some geocaching.  There were 15 geocaches on Forest Rte 8N04 from Lockwood Valley Road to Frazier Mtn.  I was able to find each cache.  Along the way I saw a nice sized bobcat.  By the time I stopped and got the camera ready, he was gone.  I also saw a deer on the road and several quail.

The first two miles of the road is paved.  There are a few potholes before you reach the campground.  After the campground, the road turns to hard packed dirt.  A little rough in spots, but I had no problem with my 2-wheel drive Toyota.  At six miles, there is a fork in the road.  A clearly marked sign indicates to turn right to Frazier Mtn Lookout.

 On the drive up, there were some nice views of the Lockwood Valley.

After the activation, I had a good time exploring the mountain.  I was hoping I could go inside the old lookout tower, but there was a gate at the top of the stairs.  While I was walking around, an older gentleman in camouflage rode up on an ATV.  He was out bow hunting and said he had been chasing a buck in the area.

There are plenty of trees in the area to support the antenna.  Although I am still hobbling a bit, I felt good that for a change, I threw my rock over the correct branches on the first attempt.

I found this old wall that provided a good spot for my station.  I brought a small cooler this trip that I used as a chair.  The location also had some nice views.  As soon as I arrived at the mountain, I was contacted on 2m by Hal, N6JZT, for a summit to summit activation.  He was on Strawberry Peak (W6/CT-018) in the Angeles National Forest.

On the other side of the wall, it looked like someone made a memorial.  There was a rock cross and a planted tree.

As I began to work the radio, Roxy found a nice shaded spot between the trees and settled in for her nap.

It was a nice morning on Frazier Mtn.  and to have the opportunity to get out for an activation, even though I can't hike this week.  Hopefully, I will be ready to hike next week.  On the way home, I exited the 5 fwy in Gorman and attempted to access Lebec Benchmark, W6/CT-122.  I traversed a couple of dirt roads before I was within a 1/4 mile from the top and I came across a fence with a gate and a posted "No Tresspassing" sign.  I turned around and headed for home.

I made the following contacts on Frazier Mtn.:

2m - N6JZT - Summit to Summit W6/CT-018 Strawberry Peak



Thank you to all chasers and spotters!