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 PeakBagger.com—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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W6/NC-182, Willson Peak, and KFF-1161, Henry W. Coe State Park

Activation Date: 29 July 2017
Transport: Hike/Run Distance: 8.3 miles
Elev. gain: 2100ft Time: 2.1 hours
Rig(s): FT-817, VX-2R Band(s): 40m, 20m SSB
Antenna(s): End-fed half-wave, 12.5 inch flex whip
Cell Service: Moderate (T-Mobile)
Parking: End of road
TrailheadEnd of Gilroy Hot Springs Road
Fees/Permits: None
Route: Timm Trail, Steer Ridge Road
Dogs: No  Toilet: Yes

This summit was originally planned to be part of a 2-summit trip along with Wasno Ridge. After forgetting one of my water bottles, that trip turned into a single-summit trip (it was a hot day!).  I wanted to come back and get Willson Peak, and also get some more WWFF/POTA contacts for Henry W. Coe State Park.  So this return trip was made.  And what a great morning for a run!

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W6/NC-174, Wasno Ridge and KFF-1161, Henry Coe State Park

Activation Date: 8 July 2017
Transport: Hike/Run Distance: 7 miles
Elev. gain: 2000ft Time: 2 hours
Rig(s): FT-817, VX-2R Band(s): 40m, 20m SSB
Antenna(s): End-fed half-wave, 12.5 inch flex whip
Cell Service: Barely (T-Mobile)
Parking: Free roadside
Trailhead: End of Gilroy Hot Springs Road
Fees/Permits: None
Route: Grizzly Gulch, Rock Tower trails going up; Jackson, Anza trails going down
Dogs: No  Toilet: Yes

This is my first full combined SOTA/POTA activation. Wasno Ridge sits inside Henry Coe State Park, WWFF/POTA designator KFF-1161.

This trip was meant to be a loop, inspired by AA6XA’s trip report for Wasno Ridge and Willson Peak. This would be one of my trail-running trips.  However, I forgot one of my water bottles and decided it would be safest to just do Wasno Ridge.  The temperature was forecast to rise sharply and I didn’t want to mess with potentially life-threatening heat issues.  My planned route would take me up the shorter, steeper way to Wasno Ridge.

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W6/NC-367, 1502

Activation Date: 2 July 2017
Transport: Run Distance: 7.5 miles
Elev. gain: 1,270ft Time: 1.5 hours
Rig(s): FT-817, VX-2R Band(s): 40m, 20m SSB, 2m FM
Antenna(s): End-fed half-wave, 12.5inch whip
Cell Service: Solid (T-Mobile)
Parking: Free, dirt parking lot
Trailhead: Bear Ranch Parking Lot
Fees/Permits: None for this entrance
Route: Willow Springs, Harvey Bear, and Ed Willson trails
Dogs: Yes  Toilet: Yes, trailhead/parking lot

Yes, even early July can be cold. This is what I found out, doing this early-morning trail run in San Martin (between the cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy). When conditions are right, a nice marine layer moves in to this part of the valley, bringing plenty of moisture and cool air up from the south. The conditions were right this morning! In this case, the marine layer was sitting at around 500 feet above sea level, which meant I’d be ascending into the clouds to activate W6/NC-367 (unnamed peak 1502). Continue reading →

Trail Running SOTA with Yaesu FT-817

I like running, hiking, summits, and ham radio. Well, lots of other things, too. But this is about those four things.  Since I started doing SOTA, I’ve wanted to try to put together an HF summit activation kit for use on trail runs.  I’ve done a a few SOTA activations while trail running, but it had always been with just a hand-held radio—usually my tiny Yaesu VX-2R with a 12-inch ultra-flexible whip antenna, or an MFJ “Long Ranger” telescoping antenna.

On most of my activations, I’ve used a SOTABeams “Band Hopper” with my FT-817.  It’s a resonant dipole for 40 and 20 meters, with a nice convenient bag, stakes, guy lines and 1:1 balun.  It’s a very nice antenna, easy to set up. But it’s a bit on the heavy side compared to an end-fed half-wave (EFHW) antenna. And not quite as easy to throw into a tree. Continue reading →

W6/NC-516, Maguire Peaks

Activation Date: 22 June 2017
Transport: Run/Hike Distance: 5.6 miles
Elev. gain: 1,400ft Time: 1.5 hours
Rig(s): FT-817 Band(s): 40m, 20m SSB
Antenna(s): Home-brew end-fed half-wave
Cell Service: Decent (T-Mobile)
Parking: Free, on side of road, near trailhead
Trailhead: Main Maguire Peaks trailhead, on Welch Road
Fees/Permits: Park fee, $5. Welch Rd permit, free. Not needed on weekdays.
Route: Maguire Peaks Trail, Maguire Peaks Loop Trail, Use Trail
Dogs: Yes, $2 fee on weekends  Toilet: No

I’ve done Maguire Peaks twice. Last time I did it has a normal hike (rather than a run). That was toward the end of last year. That trip was cold-ish (around 45F). This trip was the opposite.  Much of the southwestern United States is in the midst of a nasty heat wave. This includes Northern California. So I started early. Continue reading →

W6/NC-268, Rocky Ridge — The Hard Way

Activation Date: 17 June 2017
Transport: Run/Hike Distance: 10.5mi
Elev. gain: 2,700ft Time: 3 hours
Rig(s): FT-817 Band(s): 40m, 20m SSB
Antenna(s): Home-brew end-fed half-wave
Cell Service: Spotty (T-Mobile)
Parking: Free in paved lot at trailhead
Trailhead: Rancho Laguna Park – east side of park
Fees/Permits: EBMUD trail permit—I bought the 12-month permit
Route: Rancho Laguna Trail to Rocky Ridge Trail
Dogs: No Toilet: Near trailhead

I had originally planned on activating an as-yet unactivated summit this weekend. However, upon doing further research, I discovered there wasn’t a way to get to that summit on land open to the public. Perhaps I’ll write something about that in another post.  I still needed a summit require a 10-mile (or so) run with a decent amount of elevation, continuing my training for an upcoming trail race. So I hastily planned this interesting-looking summit an hour away from my house. Continue reading →

W6/SC-261, Pinyon Peak (failed)

Activation Date: 27 May 2017
Transport: Run/Hike Distance: 7.8 miles
Elev. gain: 2,200ft Time: 2.2 hours
Rig(s): VX-2R Band(s): 2m FM
Antenna(s): MFJ Long-ranger
Cell Service: Marginal (T-Mobile)
Parking: Free
Trailhead: Carmel Valley Ranch, Oak Pl Ln
Fees/Permits: None
Route: Huff n’ Puff, Snively’s Ridge trails
Dogs: Yes  Toilet: No

Pinyon Peak is an as-yet unactivated peak. I was in the area for the weekend, so it was calling to me. I decided to do this one as a trail run, since I needed to do one for training/exercise, and because the other route to Pinyon Peak looked a lot steeper.  My friends and family thought I was crazy for wanting to get up early to go run up hills when there were perfectly good beach trails nearby. What can I say? I’m a mountain man.

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