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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Mount Umunhum, W6/CC-052

Activation Date: 20 September 2017
Transport: Hike Distance: 159 stairs
Elev. gain: 100 feet Time: 10 minutes
Rig(s): Yaesu VX-2R Band(s): 2m, 70cm FM
Antenna(s): 12.5 inch flex whip
Cell Service: Moderate (T-Mobile)
Parking: Summit Lot
Trailhead: N/A
Fees/Permits: None
Route: Walk up the stairs
Dogs: No  Toilet: Yes

Ever since moving to the SF Bay Area, I’ve wanted to explore this summit. When I first moved here about 10 years ago, I wondered what the big “cube” was on top of the mountain. After finding out what it was, and that it was closed to the public, I really wanted to go there. Having patiently waited years, the time finally came—it opened to the public on September 18th, 2017.

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North Peak W6/CC-051 and Mount Diablo W6/CC-045

Activation Date: 16 September 2017
Transport: Hike Distance: 3.8 miles
Elev. gain: 1600 feet Time: 1.5 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: Moderate (T-Mobile)
Parking: Side of road, at North Peak trail trailhead
Trailhead: North Peak
Fees/Permits: $10 vehicle day use
Route: North Peak trail, un-named ridge trail to Mt Diablo
Dogs: No  Toilet: Yes

There are lots of ways to save time on an activation. One of them is to hike quickly and/or run. I often do this just for the fun of it, but also to save time and keep in shape. There are also lots of ways to waste time on an activation, such as getting half of your 63-foot antenna wire into a completely tangled mess!

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Bailey Ridge, W6/NS-219

Activation Date: 2 September 2017
Transport: Drive/Hike Distance: 3.5-5 miles
Elev. gain: 500 feet Time: 1.5 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: None (T-Mobile), Marginal (Verizon)
Parking: Drive-up (high clearance), or side of road
Trailhead: Forest Route 6N45
Fees/Permits: None
Route: Forest Route 6N45
Dogs: Yes  Toilet: No

I was on a camping trip in nearby Calaveras Big Trees State Park and this looked like a fairly easy activation that would allow me to slip away for a couple of hours and have some SOTA fun.  That wasn’t quite on the mark—the road ended up being a little rougher than expected.

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Santa Rosalia Mountain, W6/CC-062

Activation Date: 26 August 2017
Transport: Hike Distance: 5.6 miles
Elev. gain: 850 feet 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: Marginal/None (T-Mobile)
Parking: Side of road, Highland Way and Buzzard Lagoon Rd
Trailhead: Buzzard Lagoon Rd
Fees/Permits: None
Route: Buzzard Lagoon Rd, Aptos Creek Fire Rd
Dogs: Not sure  Toilet: No

Hot, hot, hot!  Well, for the SF Bay Area, at least. I chose this as a relatively easy, nearby summit that I hadn’t done yet.  And with the hot weather in Silicon Valley, I figured I might have a chance of some cool ocean air, by getting closer to the ocean. Not so. I had decided to bring my 8-year-old son on this hike, after asking him if he’d like to go (and if he’d be happy working the radio with me, or finding something else to do for 30+ minutes).  He said he’d like to look at trees and bugs. OK!  I also asked my 6-year-old son if he’d like to go but he wasn’t initially interested. Come the morning of the hike, he changed his mind and they both wanted to go!

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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 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/NS-170, Black Buttes

Activation Date: 22 July 2017
Transport: Hike/Scramble Distance: 9.5 miles
Elev. gain: 1160ft Time: 4-5 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: Solid (T-Mobile)
Parking: Grouse Ridge Campground Area
Trailhead: Grouse Ridge Trail
Fees/Permits: None
Route: Grouse Ridge, Glacier Lake trails, cross-country
Dogs: Yes  Toilet: Maybe

Several years before I became a ham, when I first camped at Glacier Lake, this group of peaks called to me. I didn’t get around to climbing any of them that first time, but came back a couple of years later to camp at Glacier Lake, and decided to go for it. We chose the highest peak, since it had the most obvious approach, and it’s a short hike if you happen to already be camping at the lake. It’s a steep hike, followed by a scramble to the summit.

Once I started getting into Summits on the Air, it wasn’t long before I checked to see if this summit qualified. What a great excuse to go backpacking to Glacier Lake again!  Black Buttes became a must-do part of the itinerary for my backpacking trip with a group of friends, though I would end up being the only person in our group to do it.

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W6/CC-072, San Bruno Mountain and KFF-1196, San Bruno Mountain State Park

Activation Date: 15 July 2017
Transport: Hike Distance: 4 miles
Elev. gain: 1,300ft Time: 1.6 hours
Rig(s): FT-817, VX-2R Band(s): 40m SSB
Antenna(s): End-fed half-wave, 12.5 inch flex whip
Cell Service: Solid (T-Mobile)
Parking: Free roadside or ball field
Trailhead: Hillside Blvd, near school
Fees/Permits: None
Route: Fire Road 2, Ridge Trail
Dogs: No  Toilet: No

I’ve had my eye on San Bruno Mountain since long before I was a ham. Having worked at San Francisco International Airport back in 2007-2009, I wondered what it would be like to hike to the top and watch the big planes take off (it’s 5 miles away). I also noted all of the big transmission towers on the top, and figured it was probably closed to public access. It took Summits on the Air to give me enough reason to actually go do it.

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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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