Welcome! In addition to all the good advise already posted, I’ll add that there’s also a “happy hour” for both the eastern and western areas of the US for SOTA. Because it takes time to drive and hike, many activations end up taking place near the local-time noon hour. You certainly need to activate as your schedule and conditions dictate, but planning to hit the “happy hour” also helps you come into contact with the regular activator and chaser community. I’ll point the beam your way from WI!
We have a “red flag” warning on the North Bay hills (that includes St. Helena). During a recent “red flag” warning wind gusted to 62MPH on the St. Helena Summit! The “red flag” warning references the ability for a fire to easily/quickly become an out-of-control conflagration. Consider the remote possibility that you might need to our run a fire. Please be safe!