I want to apologize to any chasers yesterday that may have been looking for me on W6/CT-051, -053, and -054. I was nowhere near my alert times, I added a different peak than was planned for my second activation, self-spotting was tricky, and my time on the summits was short. I know the saying “the acvitator is king” but you chasers do a lot to make our jobs easier and I feel bad when I don’t give you a fighting chance. If you came looking for me yesterday based on a spot and I was already QRT, I sincerely apologize.
The original plan was to camp in the mountains just north of Big Bear Lake in Southern California and activate between 3 and 5 summits in the area. I carried a Wouxun HT running APRS and the LNR FX-4 for SSB HF. My girlfriend an I planned to hike up and run down most of the summits, making a ~20 mile day out of it.
We were both tired from a busy week, so we slept in until 6:30am and didn’t make it to the summit of Peak 8336 (W6/CT until around 8:45am - almost 2 hours after my alert. I was able to spot via APRS (SMS to SOTA didn’t work) and tried 17m to avoid the Field Day craziness. After 10 min of CQ-ing, I switched to 40m and made a few field day station contacts, then one VHF FM contact to a field day station. With 4 in the log, we packed up and moved on. The run back to the car put us at 4mi round trip for that summit.
Rather than going straight to the alerted peaks, we decided to bag Gold Mountain (W6/CT-053) next instead. 3.6mi and a bunch of bushwhacking later, we arrived at the summit. By then it was noon, and the temps had climbed to the mid 80s with very little breeze to cool us down. I had spotty 3G cell reception and saw that K6YOA had been on El Cajon Mountain 20min prior on 20m, but either couldn’t hear him, or he had wrapped up already. 40m would have been a more probably success anyway, but he had finished on that band nearly an hour before. I was able to spot via web and tried 17m first with no luck, calling CQ for about 10 minutes. I then shifted to 20m and called for a little while, but I suspect everyone was radioed out from Field Day and got nothing there as well. I called out on 146.52 and found KN6CCW looking for me. After wrapping up my contact with him, I found a HAM who was packing up from field day. He graciously handed the mic to two others there to quickly round out my 4 contacts.
Our trek back to the car took a less bush-whacky route that added a few extra miles. Round trip up Gold Mountain was just under 9mi. We both ran out of water in the last couple of miles. It was hot!
Bertha Peak (W6/CT-054) was up next. The topo made it look like a short, steep 1.25mi hike up. It’s actually about 2mi if you take the PCT up to the last fire road junction before climbing the steep fire road to the antenna arrays on the summit. We were climbing this stretch in the hottest part of the day and it was crushing our motivation to do another summit after this one. In the final 100yds to the summit, we both agreed that this would be our last for the day.
I attempted to spot via APRS unsuccessfully, but was able to spot via web. This time I started on 40m and W6RIC came back to me from Ridgecrest, CA to make my first contact from that summit. At the same time, I was monitoring 146.52 and heard KN6CCW calling. I made contact with him, and with K6QCB before getting back to the HF and calling a bit more on 40m. With no takers, I switch up to 20m where NS7P found me and spotted for me. Unfortunately, a group came up on 14.3425 and squashed my little signal. Phil called a few times trying to tell them the frequency was in use, but they either couldn’t hear him or ignored him. Rather than trying to find another frequency and spotting again, I sent an updated spot indicating I was going QRT, only to notice that K0LAF had been looking for me and found the interfering conversation going on. I should have switched to a clear frequency and re-spotted, but I was worked and just wanted to get down the mountain by that point. Sorry for bailing.
I’ll be on some 13,000’+ peaks in the Sierra Nevada every weekend next month so watch for alerts and spots. Because of the difficulty of access, activations may be short, but I’ll do my best to give both 20m and 40m a bit of time.