Cuyamaca for deciGoat

I think I qualify as a SOTA dabbler. After 10 calendar years, I have managed deciGoat or 100 activation points. :slight_smile:

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? :slight_smile:

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. :slight_smile: 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. :slight_smile:


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. :slight_smile: 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.

Best regards,



Nice pictures and story. Fun is what it’s all about. The points don’t mean anything anyway. HV a MRY! - fred kt5x

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Very true.

Thanks for the SOTA QSOs in the past and hopefully more in the future.

Your trail running compact rig is still an example I point out to new SOTA folks. :slight_smile:

Enjoy your next deci! Each general was a soldier first.

Season’s greetings and 73, Markus

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Nice write-up Drew. I was just up there a couple of days after Thanksgiving for SOTA. Did Cuyamaca and had planned on doing Stonewall as well but the WX turned cold and windy. Temps dropped to around 38 degrees and thought it was going to snow as well. Hoofed it back down after about an hour up top and then ended up driving over to Los Pinos and drove up to the top of the lookout and activated that peak. I’ve done Cuyamaca a couple of time now and always in warmer WX - at least this time I didn’t come across any Rattlers! :wink:

Nice report!

To save you working out a name for every fraction of a goat for the next few years, from this day forth you shall be knows as a Demi-Goat

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I like it … I have now achieved 2.5 deciGoats, otherwise known as “one leg”

Happy holidays !


Drew, this is what it looked like the day I was up at the summit. Got really cold and windy. Thought the clouds rolling in looked pretty interesting. Had forgotten just how cold it can get down in Sunny San Diego :wink:

73, Todd KH2TJ

Drew, It’s only partially about the points. The real fun is the enjoyment and adventure of getting out into nature and making contacts over hundreds or thousands of miles with a peanut whistle radio and a wire thrown into a tree or over bushes. Keep on going and you will eventually hit that MG status and have a lot of fun doing it.

Gary A. - W0MNA


Weather can be interesting, especially with the microclimates. A thin marine layer coastal that pushes in or out to varying degrees. The desert side and that heat comes over when the wind is easterly. And the taller mountains can get extremely windy and wouldn’t want to be out in a winter storm up there, even in San Diego county.

So, definitely can be dangerously hot and dangerously cold. And all you have to do is drive a few miles to pick out a different temperature to your liking. :slight_smile:

Nice to not see rattlesnakes, but that happens. Have seen many other kinds of interesting snakes here. Posted that photo of a rosy boa constricting a just caught kangaroo rat here. I’ll have to dig out the photo of the Mountain Kingsnake I saw once on Stonewall. At first, I thought it was a toy, as no way a snake could be that brightly colored, but sure enough the snake moved on. Excuse me, Coast Mountain Kingsnake. And, yes, it is bright orange like a creamsicle. Coast Mountain Kingsnake - Lampropeltis multifasciata

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Oh, yes. The decigoat was very tongue in cheek. Have always enjoyed SOTA, even the skunked hikes (forgotten key, battery, whatever). I was going to joke about how do you eat a goat? One-tenth at a time. I do like the Goat Leg for 250 points. :slight_smile: The InstaPileups are always fun, too.

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Well done on getting the first “ton” up your belt Drew and thanks for a really interesting report. Many have dabbled their toes in the SOTA water and decided the water was not for them… many have not been back for another go at what is really a very enjoyable pastime.

I think the answer is a combination of the two. Operating out in the open air away from civilisation is something that is really special that has hooked many of us. For some the hike may be more important, for others the radio, but whatever is the prime driver, the enjoyment is there to be had. Maybe your next “ton” won’t take as long. :grinning:

73, Gerald