In the quest to find an unactivated peak to brink on the air, the Koerber Benchmark jumped up high on my list. The peak is located a little over an hour north of San Francisco just outside of the town of Occidental and next to the Russian River. Investigating Peak-Bagger reports, it was clear that the property is not public and the land is owned by the Mendocino Redwood Company, a logging company. I called the company to learn if it would be possible to get permission to hike onto the land. After a few attempts I was able to get through the the head of Forestry at the company who informed me that a mountain biking club, the “Gianni Cycling Association” had an exclusive right to access to the land and all access would have to pass through them, although the club has a long wait list to join, and he wasn’t encouraging.
So it was with some skepticism that I emailed the Gianni cycling club requesting permission. I was very pleasantly surprised when Tom, who I believe is one of the founders called me back and agreed to try to help us out to get access. He connected us with Eric (KN6KDR) who is a club member and operator. A club member is required as an escort for guest access to the site along with liability waivers.
Eric met us in the morning at a small pull-out near the (imposing and rather unwelcoming) entrance on willow creek road about 5 miles west of the small (and very picturesque) town of occidental.
After passing through the gate we followed a fire/logging through a mixed re-growth forest road for about 1km before leaving the road and moving onto a single track mountain bike trail. This trail gets us close to the summit, but the last 100 yards was moving off-trail through a fairly open lower forest canopy.
At the summit itself there was quite a nice clearing where we set up and EFHW running north/south.
We threw one end over a tree branch and set up an ebay-fishing-pole mast for the other end. We set up our Xeigu 5105 and got on the air!
WW7D was our first chasers, up in Washington, followed by W0MNA in Kansas and WU7H who have been frequent chasers. You guys have been a great way to get an activation started calling in within minutes of the first spot. K6EL also called in, we’ve had a summit to summit with him on each of our last three summits. We worked Oregon, Oklahoma, Washington, Idaho, and Colorado including 3 S2S.
After lunch we tried to work a few distant POTA pileups (Wisconsin, Indianapolis, Texas and North Carolina) but couldn’t get through.
So we wrapped up our activation and Eric took us on a small tour including the so called “sound of music” meadow, with a beautiful view looking out over the willow creek watershed. We came across a number of club members out doing trail and site maintenance, and it’s clear they take real pride in the beautiful property.
Ultimately it was a great day to get out and activate. Special thanks again to the Club and Eric for their hospitality making the activation possible. I’m hoping we’ll get Eric active in SOTA in the future!