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  


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