Mount Isabel, W6/NC-035

Activation Date: 31 December 2017
Transport: Hike Distance: 7.8 miles
Elev. gain: 2350 feet Time: 3-3.5 hours
Rig(s): LNR Precision MTR-3B, Radioddity GD-77 Band(s): 20, 40m CW, 2m FM
Antenna(s): End-fed half-wave (HF), 12-inch whip (VHF/UHF)
Cell Service: Marginal/None (T-Mobile)
Parking: Side of the road, near CalFire Smith Creek Fire Station
Trailhead: Joseph D. Grant County Park entrance, to left, behind Fire Station
Fees/Permits: None
Route: Along creek, then old ranch roads
Dogs: Yes (on leash)  Toilet: No

I wanted to get in one final SOTA activation for the year, and planned on doing it the week between Christmas and New Year’s eve, but had come down with a nasty cold. Even though I still had a cold, I decided I’d do it on the very last day of the year.  Having seen that Jeff, AA6XA discovered this hike could be done on public land, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get this one done.  It’s an exceedingly beautiful hike into an isolated part of the Diablo range.

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Peak 4850 – W6/SC-047

Activation Date: 18 November 2017
Transport: Hike Distance: 5.5 miles
Elev. gain: 1700ft Time: 3+ hours
Rig(s): MTR-3B Band(s): 30m CW
Antenna(s): End-fed half-wave
Cell Service: None (T-Mobile)
ParkingSide of road R11
Trailhead: Side of road R11
Fees/Permits: Multiple permits—see “Preparation and Permits”
Route: Jeep trail, use trail along ridge, turns into thick bushwhacking
Dogs: Yes (not recommended though)  Toilet: No

Having activated this peak once, I may not go back, unless I’m equipped with a machete or good pruning shears. This was the first of three summits in a day of activations with Jeff, AA6XA.  It’s a pretty straightforward hike followed by a nearly impassable chaparral-covered ridge.

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Mount Whitney, W6/SN-001

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.

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Red Lake Peak, W6/NS-062 and Stevens Peak, W6/NS-375

Activation Date: 5 August 2017
Transport: Run/Hike/Climb Distance: 10 miles
Elev. gain: 2750ft Time: 5 hours
Rig(s): FT-817, VX-2R Band(s): 40m, 20m SSB, 2m FM
Antenna(s): End-fed half-wave, 12.5 inch flex whip
Cell Service: Good (T-Mobile)
Parking: Big Meadow Tahoe Rim Trail Trailhead
Trailhead: Round Lake
Fees/Permits: None
Route: Tahoe Rim Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Off-Trail
Dogs: Yes  Toilet: No

While on a backpacking trip to Round Lake with friends, I wanted to see if I could squeeze in a little bit of summit action.  Originally, I was only going to attempt Stevens Peak, by heading up to a nearby ridge and approaching from the north. Upon doing some more research, I realized I could add a little bit of distance and grab both Red Lake Peak and Stevens Peak in one go.  I looked at several trip reports on—most of them consisted of a day hike to both peaks, approaching from the south. So I put together a hybrid of that approach and planned to get an early start on the second day of our backpacking trip, and do it trail-running style.

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