Bailey Peak W6/CT-099

On 12-02-17 I activated Bailey Peak in the San Bernardino National Forest. Bailey Peak is basically a drive up summit along a gentle dirt fire road. You are provided with stellar views to the Inland Empire of Southern California and to the north into the high desert. My five point trail report are as follows:

1- Parking & road info – Parking is along forest road 2N47 just below the trail to the summit. Ample parking for probably 3 vehicles if necessary. You can make it to the parking spot in a high-clearance 2WD vehicle, preferably a truck or SUV unless there is incline weather warranting 4WD.

2- Trail conditions – The “trail” to the summit is very short, maybe .20 of a mile but fairly steep. You walk along an old fire break road and the summit is just a grassy high spot on the ridge with a few trees.

3- I was able to work the summit via VHF on a HT with a small antenna. A beam or or roll up j-pole would make the job easier. There is plenty of room and trees to setup a HF station if desired.

4- APRS and cell phones worked just fine for spotting and other unwanted cell distractions while activating.

5- You do not need a National Forest Adventure Pass for this area, but it’s a good idea to have one handy. This summit, like most of them, is very susceptible to wind so plan accordingly. I think this would be a fun summit to camp on and work HF all night since the truck was so close.

The Jobs Peak SOTA Challenge W6/CT-109

This was supposed to be a quick and easy drive up peak to bag a few points before heading home, but it wasn’t that simple. Sure it’s easy to get to, and it’s not a challenging hike by any means but I opted to be quick about my setup and it only delayed things more. I used just my VHF Yaesu VX8-DR HT with the small whip and it proved to be a challenge to get my contacts as quick as I wanted. Cody and Brie hung out in the truck while I played for a bit but for those who choose to follow my path and activate Job Peak I’d suggest a roll-up J-pole or beam antenna or anything better than the HT whip. HF is completely possibly here but might upset the neighbors. Here is my five-point summit report:

1- Parking & Road Conditions – It’s a paved road to the summit and there is a large dirt area to park. This has a high potential for snow when the season is present so be mindful of that. Additionally, you’re in somebody’s neighborhood so think about what you’d want from somebody if they came into your neighborhood to do the same. Noise and litter wouldn’t go far to help our cause.

2- Trail Conditions – There’s no trail really. You get out of your truck/car and walk like 50 yards or so on flat ground. This is a wheelchair friendly peak.

3- VHF & HF – I should have setup a better antenna for VHF but I still made it work.

4- APRS & Cell Service – Both worked

5- See above intro on the VHF struggles and my suggestions to overcome that if you choose to activate the peak.

The Pinnacles W6/CT-097

Since it was the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, I chose to #optoutside with quite a few other people. I didn’t buy new gear, and my trusty Osprey backpack was loaded with the bare essentials to include my HF ham radio kit; which stayed in my pack on this activation. Here is a written summary of my 5 SOTA points for the hike:

1- parking was along Highway 173 behind Lake Arrowhead and right next to the rifle range. There is a designated trail head and parking spot that any vehicle can easily drive up to unless there was heavy snow.

2- The trail is fairly well marked but does have a couple finger options to take that pretty much all lead to the visible mountain. Along the trail are soft sand patches, rocky slopes, and some heavy boulder hopping near the summit. There are no shade trees along the trail, but you can find some relief against some of the bigger rocks. I wouldn’t hike this in the summer as it would be rattlesnake haven.

3- I activated this peak on VHF via my Yaesu VX8-DR HT ham radio and a moderate antenna. An arrow beam or similar yagi style antenna would be great for this summit since setting up HF with a wire would be a bit tricky, especially on a busy day with other people. I got swarmed by people on my hike and it wasn’t worth the effort to setup HF, but other HF antenna options would be fun.

4- APRS and cell service were excellent. No problem self-spotting your activation via either mode.

5- I really like the little slope below the summit but I thought it was too far below the activation line. No need for the Forest Adventure Pass to park at the trail head and there is a good volume of traffic along Hwy 173 in case of emergencies.

Overall a real good hike for exercise as its a steady climb to the summit from the trail head. Bring lots of water, sunblock, and snack and enjoy the views out toward the north desert cities.

Point 2729 W6/CT-275

This wasn’t much of a hike, in fact it was a drive up peak on private property. I was lucky to have been given vehicle access and once on the peak I walked about 150 yards or so to the activation zone. In the spirit of Summits On The Air, or SOTA, which entails being on your own power to the summit, to include battery power for your ham radios (not vehicle battery power either) the short walk and easy activation made this a fun family outing.

I’m lucky to have been spotted on APRS by Charles KM6CEM and I was able to spot via cell phone on the SOTA Goat application. Made some quick contacts before jumping on a local repeater I frequent to pull a few of the guys over to the National simplex frequency for the full activation. Thanks to those who found me on 520 and for taking time to help me make it a successful activation. With help like that it’s very possible to use VHF HT only to make it work. A simple technician class ham radio license can open the SOTA doors so get out there and hike around.

Here’s my five-point trail report:

1- Parking and Road Conditions – If you can get access to the private property then it’s a drive up on a dirt road that is passable via a high-clearance vehicle. 4WD is not necessary but if there happened to be rain then the road may get slick. YMMV

2- Trail Conditions – It’s a drive up and then the walk is super easy to the summit under the power lines. I opted to activate just to the side of the power lines and not under them, still well within the activation zone.

3- VHF/HF – I worked all my contacts on VHF with a little help from Charles KM6CEM who spotted me and from people on my favorite repeater that I brought over to simplex. HF is possible as there is plenty of room for whatever contraption you’d like to setup. Be mindful of the power lines of course.

4- APRS & Cell Service – Both worked just fine.

5- Extra Info – It’s all about getting access to the private property.

Pacifico Mountain W6/CT-015

Pacifico Mountain was reached via a four mile hike into the forest on a closed dirt road. There were deer hunters walking around while we were doing our activation and as we traversed up and down the mountains. Tahyo lugged her water and small items in her backpack and we nearly crashed our drone while getting footage on the way up. Check out the video that shows the hike itself for a view of what this trail looks like.

Thanks to all the chasers who found me on the different frequencies and helped me activate the peak. I’ll be going back to this summit again as it has nice amenities, great cell service, picnic tables, a vault toilet system, trees, rocks, and plenty of views looking north toward the antelope valley.

If you like to operate qrp, enjoy hiking and backpacking, have your ham radio license, then I’d encourage you to check out SOTA or Summits On The Air at www.sota.org.uk for more information.

If you don’t have your ham radio license, then it’s easy to obtain and a testing location can be found on www.arrl.org.

Lastly, getting exercise by hiking is awesome, especially if you take your best friend or dog with you on the trail. Time spent alone in the woods is great, but time with those you love is even better.

Here’s the five-point trail report:

1- Parking & Road Conditions – The trail head is accessed via a paved road up the the gate of the closed road. There is a large turn out at the gate for parking in the dirt.

2- Trail Conditions – The trail is really a forest service road that has been closed down probably due to some avalanches causing large boulders to block vehicle access on the road. My son was able to push my granddaughter up the road in her stroller so maybe that gives you an idea on what to expect. Great views, shade spots, yet a fairly remote location.

3- VHF & HF options – Providing you are patient enough you would be able to work this summit on VHF only. I opted to setup HF while activating and made plenty of contacts on both bands.

4- APRS & Cell Coverage – I had 4G LTE cell coverage with both Sprint and Verizon. APRS worked great as well. No issues noted.

5- The summit is an abandoned camp ground with a vault toilet, picnic tables, and fire rings. The views into the high desert are epic. There was plenty of room on the summit for many activators, campers, etc. If you want to hang a wire in a tree that’s completely an option since the summit has excellent shade and tree coverage. I really liked this summit and I’ll be going back for sure one day.

Here’s the trail video showing this awesome place!

Estelle Mountain W6/CT-187

A nice little peak to activate SOTA (Summits On The Air) near Corona, California within the W6 activation zone. This video shows the drive via drone and GoPro for road conditions for your vehicle considerations. The hike itself can be whatever you want it to be from less than 100 yards or you can stop anywhere along the dirt road and hike up to the summit to activate. I am enjoying my last few days with my son Cody and my granddaughter Brie before they leave for Italy for a military deployment for the next three years.

Part two will be just the ham radio contacts.

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DJI Osmos Gimbal: http://amzn.to/2iHyoTp

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