First activation of a drive up on field day 2020

First, I have a flickr gallery here if you want to see photos of my trip:

I was packing up when a massive rainstorm swept into my neighborhood, I went to the garage with my son to video it and a funny thing happened:

It’s always good to start a trip off with a good laugh.

I left a little later than I wanted to because I worked on a mounting system for my 2m/70cm antenna. Andrew, KD5ZZK, saw a photo and called it my Sanford & Son setup. I was kinda proud of it… until later. Here, judge for yourself:

I headed towards the mountains and my old FTM400 just would not lock onto any GPS satellites to squawk my location on aprs until I got over the front range. You can see that on my aprs track here:
I think I am going to sell my 400 and buy an upgraded 400xdr since it has a better GPS rx’er.

If you haven’t been to Colorado before, this road over Kenosha Pass is absolutely stunning. The unveiling of 14,000’ mountains before you as you move from valley to pass to valley will have you feasting on magnificence and beauty that I think inspired us all to get into SOTA.

If you come to this summit from Gunnison, CO I would suggest filling up there before heading out. There are no more gas stations after you go through Gunnison.

Alpine Rd is a named road off of 149. Here’s a suggestion, use google maps to navigate there and download the offline maps for that area before you head out. I did this and it made navigation much easier since there is no cell service after leaving Gunnison until you get to the summit.
Here is the GPS location of the turn:
There is some exposure on this road with some incredible views:

Alpine Rd is a well maintained forest road two track that any passenger car could navigate. The turn off of Alpine Rd is a Rt turn at this sign:
GPS location:
This road, 867, is a two track that is maintained but not as well as Alpine Rd and I would suggest a SUV or higher clearance vehicle than a passenger car but a slow and cautious driver could make this road if very careful IMO. There is a lot of logging operations along this road that could change conditions at any time due to their heavy machinery and the frequency of afternoon showers.

Once you get to this location: (this photo was taken on the way back from the summit 2 track to 867. GPS coordinates:
The summit 2 track is high clearance 4x4 only, so park there and hike up if you don’t have an offroad vehicle. Here is video showing what it’s like to drive this summit 2 track:

I got to the summit after sunset and set up camp in the dark:
The next morning (Saturday morning) I woke up to this view:

Here’s my camp setup: and and my field day/SOTA radio summit shack:

The plan was to run 1B for field day but I ended up only doing a SOTA activation using my 991a radio, a Bioenno battery, and a KX3 Helper end fed antenna thrown into the pine tree next to my station.

I started breakfast and then turned on the radio to find an empty slice of band pie. The 991a has a nice bandscope that allows for easy viewing of the activity around your tuned frequency.
I put out a spot on 20m and immediately had a nice pre-field day start time pile-up. I’ve uploaded my logs so if you got me, you’re in the database. I needed to get back to my bacon so I put out a last call and got another in the log before getting to breakfast.

I realized I had forgotten to bring plates and silverware. Add that to the checklist for the next trip! Oops I also forgot sunscreen and now I’m sitting here typing this with some serious heat radiating off of my neck, arms, and face! I did bring a big hat but it didn’t always stay on in the summit winds.

I did get a bit sick later in the day from either the bacon grease I cooked my eggs in or the medicine I took, or maybe a combo of both with the campsite elevation of 11,500’: but due to that, I didn’t operate much more and just relaxed and enjoyed my summit campsite.

I felt better the next morning and got a couple more contacts, one on 18Mhz (NE4TN) and another on 21Mhz (N4EX).

I packed up and thought I’d try another unactivated summit on the way back to Gunnison, Tolvar Peak.

It is 100% a high clearance 4x4 road that you need to attempt only before the rains (and get off before it rains) with lockers and preferably sway bar disconnect or just park at the 149c road to the two track turn and hike up. I looked at the shortest path up the front of the mountain and even though there’s a two track going straight up the face, I didn’t feel comfortable trying that so I went around the back and ended up backing down from that:

Somewhere along the way my Sanford & Son antenna mount died and my antenna broke. Pic is in my album.

Some of you might be asking, why doesn’t he just hike up? Check out this album which shows some of the things I’m still working on getting back to normal:


Looks like you chose a really nice field day peak even if you didn’t participate in field day. I know from experience not to go from 500 feet (My home elevation) to 11,500 in a day or two or I get sick for sure.