I think I qualify as a SOTA dabbler. After 10 calendar years, I have managed deciGoat or 100 activation points.
Yesterday, headed out to Rancho Cuyamaca State Park with dog and with intent to do Stonewall, W6/SC-029. Ah, but dogs are only allowed on the paved service road to the summit of Cuyamaca, W6/CC-014. So, that’s what we did.
There had been a bit of snow a week earlier. Temps hadn’t warmed up too fast after the storm, so there was lots of snow especially higher up and in the shade. Anything with enough hours of sun during the day was free of snow. Despite a bit of melt, snow was at least a decimeter deep in places.
On the service road itself, due to the popularity, there was a lot of packed snow, and in places with some sun exposure, a lot of ice. Fortunately, the lower half was dry, and there was plenty of dry patches until the last pitch which is more shaded. And, with care, all of the ice was avoidable.
Snow pack and ice patches for the upper section of the way up
Due to past fires, on this hike, only the campground at the bottom and near and along the summit ridge have trees.
Near the summit, so some trees and more snow
Due to recent precipitation, the air was quite clear and visibility excellent. More heavily snow covered peaks were visible to the north, desert to the east, and San Diego and the ocean to the west.
View from Cuyamaca: scrub and dead trees then a reservoir, an old mine, and a meadow that is quite nice in the spring then more SOTA summits and the desert
This is one of my least favorite hikes in San Diego. (Don’t get me wrong; Cuyamaca state park is wonderful.) One way is 1636 ft in 2.78 miles. That’s 11% gradient. Normally that’s OK, as trails tend to have a lot of stairstep, but this is paved. Yuck. Needless to say I was feeling it in the calves and that little band of muscle on the shin you never think about. There are a couple of places one could go to condition for this in the metro area, but why?
Stonewall: very popular; nice place to take kids, as it’s rock and pointy on top, and so feels like a real mountain
No luck on 2m FM. Combination of weekday factor and the cheap radio suffering from commercial gear? Switched to a KX3 and a 10 m wire with 5 m counterpoise. The wire could have been elevated better, but then again, it was going to be good enough to work stations.
No luck on 10 m phone. Nor 10 m CW despite getting spotted with a ridiculously loud signal report from a (new?) RBN station nearby.
On to 15 m CW where the pileup ensued. W0ERI and W0MNA I picked out of the pileup first. And WW7D and NE4TN to finish 4 and cross into the lofty heights of deciGoat status. Also worked K0LAF, NU7A, and apparently with good ears, JH1MXV. Hmm. Even though it was only a couple of hours after noon, it was only a couple of hours before dark, so westerly DX on 15 m made sense. That exhausted the pileup, so switched to 20 m CW and worked two more: KX6I S2S on W6/SC-365 and KX0Y.
I packed it up at that point and headed down. The snow melt was already refreezing in places on the road. Nothing like some unscheduled ballet. Nice day out. Again, SOTA is an excuse to hike or play radio, not sure which.
My first summit in 2013 is a popular SOTA starter and is a backyard summit: W6/SC-338. I’ve activated it 6 times now. 3 years with zero activations. Hmm. Must have been distracted. And now with 36 activations as of yesterday am totalling 102 points. It’s definitely not Mountain Goat level activating, but it’s great fun nonetheless.