We started this hike when it was 14 degrees Fahrenheit outside and that’s COLD for us So Cal boys. This was a unique hike for a variety of reasons to include meeting Kevin (W6RIP) for the first time and making contact with Tony (Check out his YouTube channel @K9ARV_Radio). Both Kevin and I made the QRP to QRP contact from here in So Cal to Tony in Florida! Pretty epic considering all the talk about poor sun spot cycle and band conditions!
Here is my five point trail report:
1- Parking / Road Conditions – The road to where I parked was a well maintained forest service road that is easy to find and use. The hop from 2N09 into the Holcomb Valley was smooth with some mud from the melting snow. There were several large puddles on the smaller forest road past the Wilbur Grave site and up to the area where I chose to park. 4WD not necessary unless more snow or rain causing slippery muddy trails, but I always prefer to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Either way, if you can only go so far then you can walk the rest of the way so you can leave your vehicle along the forest road in many areas that fit your comfort level.
2- Trail Conditions – On the way up we didn’t really find the trail we just kind of traversed “smartly” through the area semi-cross country. Once at the summit we saw the rock cairns and followed those down so the route on the west track in the map below marks the trail. When we went the patchy snow somewhat covered the trail and you had to really keep your eye out for the rock cairns on the way down to stay on the trail. If you lost the trail then it’s pretty easy to find your way out as long as you go downhill and left, or south to southwest.
3- VHF v HF – VHF was pretty tough here even with the roll up j-pole. I elected to operate on 20m only but was able to get a spot out on APRS2SOTA. Providing you had a crowd at the read to work you, or could drag some people from a repeater in the Big Bear or High Desert area over to simplex I’d strongly suggest being ready to operate on HF.
4- APRS & Cell- I was able to spot via cell phone wit Sprint, use Twitter to message Tony in FL, and get text messages I didn’t really want while on the peak. APRS also worked fine here.
5- Extra Info – This hike was along a semi-shady canyon up to the summit that had plenty of trees to use for antenna supports. The summit itself is kind of small but well within the activation zone are areas to setup. I’d use caution in the summer for snakes due to the rocky area and of course this is cougar country. Bears are known to be in the area but if you’re into SOTA then you should know some basic wildlife safety. The noise of your radio and you setting up will probably run all wildlife out of the area for a month so enjoy.