Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunset Peak W6/CT-022

This was an easy drive to the trail head this morning,  It took us less than an hour to reach the parking area, including a stop to grab a cup of coffee.  Mt. Baldy Road is less windy than Angeles Crest Highway, which I often drive for SOTA activations.  Parking is on Glendora Ridge Road, a short distance from Mt. Baldy Road.  The GPS coordinates for parking are  34° 13.684'N 117° 40.212'W. The red line on the photo is the route via the dirt road, just over 3.5 miles, the route we took.  The yellow line is the fire break that follows the ridge.  Although much shorter at 1.5 miles, it is very steep.  I used the geocahces along the route for the waypoints to mark the trail.

After arriving at the parking area, we walked around the easily seen yellow gate and started our hike. The other option was to take the steep fire break to the left.

The dirt road is easy to follow, in good shape, and offers some nice views to the west.

As we approached Sunset Peak, we had the option of leaving the dirt road or going up the steep trail. As we are using our SOTA hikes for training to hike Mt. Whitney, we chose to stay on the dirt road to add the extra distance.

It took us 1:50 to get to the top with several breaks to take pictures and find the geocaches.  It was a much easier hike than last week at Pt. 4460 W6/CT-144.  CT-144 was totally open with bare mountains, while this had stunning views, trees, and  a gradual incline of 1300'.  As I began to set up, Teresa settled in to read a book.

As I set up, Roxy settled in for a nap after the hike.  I used the tree to provide some shade as I made the activation.

More nice views from the peak including Mt. San Antonio W6/CT- 003 (first photo).  Although hazy in the basin below, you can make out downtown Los Angeles in the last photo.

Before leaving, I signed the summit log.


Thank you to all chasers for the contacts!  I was unable to find an open frequency without QRM on the 20m band.  There was a contest taking place and the band was packed.


10m - NA6MG, N4EX, KAIR

40m - W7RV

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Pt. 4460 W6/CT-144

Timing is everything.  I have wanted to hike Pt. 4460 for quite a while.  However, with total exposure on the hike, I knew I couldn't do it during the hot months.  Also, with the work on the electrical towers Monday - Saturday, I knew I could only do this hike on a Sunday.  The hike is just over three miles each way with about a 1400' elevation gain,   My wife wants to train to climb Mt. Whitney in September, so this is the first SOTA activation where I had her company.  We drove over the mountains from the 210 fwy, via Big Tujunga Cyn Rd., Angeles Forest Hwy, to Aliso Cyn Rd.  It took us about an hour to get to the parking spot from the house, including a stop at 7-11 for coffee on the way.  The GPS coordinates for parking are 34° 26.533'N  118° 8.866'W.  The yellow line is where we shaved .18 miles off the hike by following a faint trail.  The coordinates where we left the dirt road to follow the faint trail are  34° 27.272'N  118° 7.688'W.

After parking, we loaded up and walked past the yellow gate, following the dirt road all the way up.  At GPS coordinate 34° 27.138'N 118° 7.774'W, we came to an intersection and turned left.  Going straight would have taken us to Angeles Forest Hwy, below Mt. Emma Road, about two miles away.  I scouted the dirt road about two months ago near Angeles Forest Hwy.  You can drive it from that location, but I felt uneasy, as I drove past some beat up mobile homes with "no trespassing" signs, feeling like I was in the movie "Deliverance."

As we walked past the numerous electrical towers that followed the road, I felt like I was listening to a Rice Krispies commercial as we constantly had the sound of "Snap, Crackle, Pop," from the wires above.  Pt. 4460 is in the distance above the towers.

The road would have been impassible on foot during the work week due to the construction.

Below is the faint trail we took to shave off .18 miles on the way up and back.

As we rounded a bend in the road, we came across an "Andy Gump" porta-potty on the side of the road, with a steep drop off the side of the road.

The last 1/4 mile is steep, with no trail.  We took our time, as I am always concerned about rattlesnakes in these areas.

Arriving on top, I could see the lone post, just as Hal, N6JZT, had reported from his activation.  I used the post to attach the black widow pole.

I found a good spot to set up my station with nice views in all directions.

Roxy wasn't too happy about my wife using her as a pillow as they both tried to take a nap.

View of Mt Emma W6/CT-029.

Parker Mtn W6/CT-153

Roxy took a swim break on the way back.  The water was dirty, but she didn't care.

There was a lot of QSB on the bands today.  I had a "Summit to Summit" activation with George, WB5USB, who was in New Mexico on Gray Hill, W5N/MG-033.  Thank you to all chasers for the contacts!

10m - AE9Q, K4MF, KK4EUN, W3WGW


40m - W7RV, NK6A, N6JZT, AA7DK, N6JT, K6TUY

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ralston Peak W6/CT-134

I have had my eye on Ralston Peak since my start with SOTA.  Much of it had to do with timing, as I knew it would be hot in the summer months.  I also spent a lot of time figuring out how to hike to the peak, as there is no actual trail.  I drove north on the 15 Fwy, exiting on the 138 and driving west for a couple of miles to Lone Pine Canyon Rd. ( N 34 18.097 W 117 30.702 ) I took Long Pine to Swarthout Canyon Rd I turned left on Swarthout and followed the dirt road to the parking area ( N 34 17.915 W 117 30.4840 )

It was a cool day in the low 50's when I started the hike.  This was perfect weather for this hike as the start is extremely steep with over 350' of elevation gain over the first tenth of a mile.  In the photo below, I climbed the hill on the left, below going towards the right (east) to Ralston Peak.  The hike is just under a mile, mostly steep, uphill.  The photo does not do the hike justice.  It took Roxy and I 1:18 to get to the peak.  I found waypoints to reach Ralston Peak on ( Ralston Peak Waypoints )  After climbing the first hill, there is a small trail that leads east to Ralston in the middle, right of the photo.

After cresting the first hill, I headed east towards Ralston.  This next section had me looking into the sun and I was glad I didn't forget my sunglasses.  I forgot my hiking poles at home and I sure could have used them on this hike.  These next two photos show Ralston from the first hill.

There is a slight decline after climbing the first hill before climbing back uphill.  While taking a break on this next uphill section, I spoke with Scott, WA9STI, on 2m who was about 30 miles away in Beaumont.  He was enroute to an activation in Joshua Tree National Park.  The last tenth of a mile or so required some light bushwhacking.

We arrived at the peak and I made contact with Scott again on 2m.  There were some really nice views from the peak.  The bottom photo, to the west of Ralston, is Circle Mtn W6/CT-071.

The peak is fairly flat and there are plenty of places to set up the station.  I found this forest boundary pole that I used to support the "blackwidow" pole.

I sloped the antenna north to south.


While I was working the radio, Roxy was taking a nap after the tough hike.

I found the well hidden geocache on top of Ralston.

On the way back down, I took a different route, as I didn't want to go down that steep hill.  I left the trail at N 34° 18.119 W 117° 30.248 and followed a faint trail to the dry stream bed and worked my way to the west around the first hill, where I picked up a dirt road that I followed back to the parking area.  The first picture shows the faint trail, some pipeline markers I followed, to the dirt road. Although the total mileage was 1.45 on this route, it was much easier on the knees and took me 45 minutes.  If I ever do this peak again, I would take this route on the ascent.

It is always nice to see the truck when I return from a hike.  As I made my final approach to my truck, there was a hiker standing nearby that was looking for the PCT to hike a section.  He mentioned that he was in the area yesterday and saw two rattlesnakes.  If you take this hike, brink plently of water and keep your eyes and ears open for rattlesnakes.  They are all over this area.

Thank you to all chasers!  I made the following contacts:

2m -  WA9STI, K6QCB



40m - W7RV