I am new to SOTA, planning my first summit in mid-July (final date TBD). The XYL and I will be visiting friends in Pagosa Springs CO for a week, and I found W0C/SJ-142, Oak Brush Hill near where we will be staying.
To access this summit, I will drive on forest road 649 that leads to a FM radio station transmitter site, where I am planning to park my vehicle, then it’s about 9/10 of a mile hike to the summit. I will be taking my X6100 transceiver and an end feed wire antenna. Plan to operate on 40/20/15 meters SSB and CW until the batteries die, approx. 2 hours of operation.
My question is:
It appears this summit has never been active before. Wonder why? Someone told me it maybe because there is no public access. Before I make the journey, is there a way to determine if I will be allowed access to the summit?
Looking a google maps, both satellite and topo, it appears the climb should not be an issue.
Hi, Thomas, and welcome to the world of SOTA.
A quick look on CalTopo.com comfirms that Oak Brush Hill is part of the San Juan national forest. There may be forest closures due to fires and recovery periods. Summits to the west appear to be on tribal land and most likely require permission to access.
I’ll bet there are folks who know the area on here who can comment on gates and whether they are open or closed. Also on other mapping and nav apps.
I took a glance at my Gaia maps. The USFS Visitor layer shows what I think are seasonal locked gates for the 649 rd? (V shaped gates). It also looks like a locked gate prior to the Comm site. Hopefully you will get some local input, but I think you could be on to a FA for your first activation. Good Luck!
p.s. It wouldn’t hurt to give the Pagosa Ranger District office a call and see what type of intel they might provide.
SOTA will give you a lot of radio fun, also a lot of fun navigating in forests and such. We are all hooked, you will be too - if your first activation goes well.
I was curious about the summit you referenced, I looked on the maps at the terrain and so forth. By the look of the maps, the access road to the two radio locations is almost the lowest grade of road; the symbols for good roads are solid lines, poorer roads are dashed but the higher parts of that one are dotted! You don’t describe what kind of vehicle you will use to get to the point where you’ll start walking. It may need to have 4 wheel drive with good articulation if the “dotted road” isn’t in good condition.
The contour lines make it look pretty steep there.
Take care and be prepared to change your plans if things aren’t what you expect.
You might want to read this thread on this reflector too. Could be some tips there to note.
Choosing you first SOTA summit - SOTLAS filter to search for "popular" summits?
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA
Hello Thomas NE7X!
Excited to see you are looking to activate your first summit! Looks like there aren’t that many activated summits in that area, but WOC/SJ-155 has been activated 5 times (relatively close to the summit you mentioned) and might have more information to reach summit. There were some summit pictures at the sotlas link below, and looks like a lookout so should be good marked trail or trailhead.
You might not have any issues trying to activate a summit for the first time, and sometimes that’s the only option people have. I tried activating a few summits for the first time, and ran into access issues…and other adventures, until I choose a more popular summit for my first activation. (-:
Have a great time on your first summit! 73, James WA7JNJ