Well, I did it! I finished CW Ops’ CW Academy, Level 1. I even got a certificate. I’ve made a few QSO’s and although I struggle to copy full sentences, the world of morse code / CW operation is now a whole lot less scary. This was a really enjoyable course, and I strongly recommend it to anyone starting out with morse code / CW operation.
|Activation Date: 21 October 2017|
|Transport: Hike||Distance: 1.25 miles|
|Elev. gain: 230ft||Time: 25-30 minutes|
|Rig(s): Yaesu FT-817, VX-2R||Band(s): 40m, 20m SSB, 2m FM|
|Antenna(s): Linked Dipole, 12.5-inch whip|
|Cell Service: Strong (T-Mobile)|
|Parking: Seaview Trailhead|
|Trailhead: Vollmer Peak|
|Route: Vollmer Peak Trail|
|Dogs: Yes||Toilet: Yes|
After attending the SOTA lunch at Pacificon, I wanted to go grab a quick/easy summit. Vollmer Peak has been on the list for a while. It’s a very short hike and it was relatively close to San Ramon, where lunch was. It’s not the most exciting summit, but it does have a couple of nice views.
|Activation Date: 14 October 2017|
|Transport: Hike||Distance: 22 miles|
|Elev. gain: 6200ft||Time: 12-16 hours|
|Rig(s): Yaesu FT-817||Band(s): 40m, 20m SSB|
|Antenna(s): End-fed half-wave|
|Cell Service: Marginal to moderate (T-Mobile)|
|Parking: Whitney Portal|
|Trailhead: Whitney Portal|
|Fees/Permits: $15 – lottery/quota system|
|Route: Mount Whitney Trail|
|Dogs: No||Toilet: Yes|
Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada, with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m). Last year, I summited it by doing it as a trail-run, getting the round trip done in 9 hours. This time, I wanted to experience it as a more traditional hike, with an overnight stay with friends along the trail before going up the summit. With the exception of losing my antenna to the mountain, it was practically a perfect trip.
I’ve been doing CW Academy for about 4 weeks now—I’m officially at the half-way point. We’ve got most of the letters/numbers, and we’re starting to move into prosigns and typical QSO lingo. Having recently gotten my end-fed antenna back up at my house, I saw a SOTA spot on 40 meters last night, Keith KR7RK on CW. I figured I’d give it a shot!
|Activation Date: 30 September 2017|
|Transport: Hike||Distance: 1.8 miles|
|Elev. gain: 300 feet||Time: 40 minutes|
|Rig(s): FT-817, VX-2R||Band(s): 2m, 70cm FM|
|Antenna(s): 12.5-inch flex whip|
|Cell Service: Excellent (T-Mobile)|
|Parking: Small lot at trailhead, or side of road|
|Trailhead: Fairmont Ridge Staging Area|
|Route: Fairmont Ridge, stay right of eucalyptus trees|
|Dogs: Yes (off-leash area)||Toilet: No|
Well, it finally happened: I forgot a critical component of my system. I hiked up to the activation zone, got my antenna nicely set up in a tall tree, hooked everything up and went to turn on the radio—no power!