28-July-2011, Mount Bailey, W7/CS-004
We had talked about doing Mount Thielsen W7/CS-002 today, but it is a long walk to Thielsen (11 to 12 miles round trip) and the last 80 feet is a scramble with exposure. So we opt to do Mount Bailey instead. I have decided I am carrying more battery than I need, so today I leave the 2500 mAH pack at camp.
For this outing we have 7 people in our party. Our group consists of my wife and I, my brother and his three daughters, and Lori, a friend of ours who came to join us for a few days. We want to start part way up the mountain rather than at the normal trailhead. This requires traveling up a 4 wheel drive road and in this case over snow. This cuts off 2.2 miles of trail each way. My brother has a jeep with wide tires which allows it to mostly float on top of the snow. Lori also has a jeep, but it is heavier and doesn’t have the wide tires. We start out with both jeeps until we arrive at the first snow bank. Lori makes it through the snow bank, but we can see more and deeper snow just ahead, so her jeep is parked and we all squeeze into the one jeep. There are a couple of intersections where we have to choose the correct road. We make the correct choices and soon arrive at the signed trailhead.
Our hike for today has 2310 feet of elevation gain and is 2.7 miles one way. There are mosquitoes that bother use at camp, but there are more of them and they are more ferocious at the beginning of the trail. We hope that as we climb up the mountain the mosquitoes will quit bothering us. They have not been a problem on the other peaks. The trail is obvious at first, but soon there is quite a bit of snow which makes following the trail more difficult. There are blaze marks on the trees and it is a cross country ski trail in winter, so there are blue diamonds on trees that mark the trail as well. We arrive at a place where the trees are smaller and fewer and we cannot find the next blue diamond or any blaze marks and the trail is under snow. Fortunately at this point the mosquitoes are no longer a problem.
We know where the summit is and we know about where the trail goes. So we head up mostly following a ridge. As we climb up on snow and volcanic rock the toe of the sole on one of Lori’s boots comes loose. We stop and try to fix it with a strap I have for attaching my antenna pole to a post and some tape. We don’t have any good tape and the strap always comes loose. As we keep going up the ridge the sole on the Lori’s other boot falls off. We should probably turn around, but Lori keeps pushing on, not wanting to disappoint any of us. Soon, the sole also falls off the second boot. The leather upper part of her boot is still attached to the foot bed of the boot. It’s just that the soles are now missing.
By now we are near the false summit. We contour around the south face of the slope and arrive at the east side of a crater or bowl. This is the contour circle I saw on the map. But from the map it is not clear it is a crater. The west side of the crater is full of snow. We work our way around the south side of the crater and find the trail on the west side. Some of our party are getting hungry so we stop for lunch. We are relatively close to camp so I have been using low power (0.5 watts) on the handheld to communicate with my dad at camp. Even though we are now on the south west slope of the mountain and camp is due east he can still hear me fine on low power. We are at about 8000 feet and he is at 5200 feet and 4 to 5 miles away.
After lunch we continue up onto the summit ridge. There are a few humming birds flying around. We are surprised to see them up here. The first part of the ridge is small lava rock. Farther along the ridge is a rock spine. The trail goes along the west side of the spine on loose soil and small rock. We arrive at the window in the rock spine. As you look through the window you can see Mount Thielsen and Diamond Lake framed by the window. The trail continues along the west side of the ridge. There is a band of snow that has melted away from the rock spine and so there is room to walk between the snow and the spine. Then we come to a place where the snow has not melted back. We could try and go below the snow but then we would be on steeper looser ground. We find a way to climb up on the rock and get around the problem area. We then come to an area where we can climb up the rock spine and on to the final summit ridge. Soon we are on the summit.
I call my dad to let him know we have made it, and he is the first contact in the log. While I set up the dipole for 20m everyone else lays down around the summit and rests. I call at length on 14.285 and 14.3425 but get no contacts. By now my wife has figured out that I do not want to leave the summit until I have at least 4 contacts. Today she is carrying her radio and she and Lori begin their decent. She calls me on the radio and asks when she becomes a valid contact. I tell her to call me when she reaches the window. That way I will know she has made it safely past the iffy parts of the trail (she will also be well out of the activation zone). I am not sure my mother was thrilled to overhear this conversation about the trail her sons, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters are walking on.
I switch to 50.125 and call CQ but still get no response. My wife calls on 146.52 from the window. She is the second entry in the log. Time is running on and it is time to be leaving. I brought the 2m beam with me, but I don’t want to take the time to get it mounted on the pole. I put the dual band whip on the 817 and call CQ on 146.52. I get a couple more contacts. One of those contacts suggests 50.125. Since I am set up for that already, we go there and make a contact on 6 meters. Contact summary for Mount Bailey, 4 contacts on 146.52 MHz FM, 1 contact on 50.125 MHz SSB.
I pack up and begin the decent. When we get past the window and onto the lava rock ridge I call camp and ask if they can see us standing on the ridge waving. They are using binoculars but do not see us at first. I direct them on where to look and then they are able to see us. My wife and Lori have followed the trail until it disappeared under the snow. She calls us to say that they are waiting for us to catch up with them before they continue.
Lori is going slow because of no soles on her boots which gives her very poor traction. Each time she comes to snow she stops to put bags over the toes of her boots. The leather upper is coming loose from the foot bed near the toe on one of her boots. Soon the bags begin to wear out and Lori quits putting them on. Now snow is getting into her boot when she walks. Fortunately it is a warm sunny day and also Lori’s wool socks help keep her feet from getting too cold.
We don’t retrace our steps exactly and eventually we come out on a ridge. I marked the jeep on the GPS so I get it out and turn it on. We are a little over a mile away but as we work our way down the ridge we come to a place where we can see the way ahead is getting steeper. We contour to the east in an attempt to find a better route and we find the trail. There is a reason why the trail goes where it does. We return to the jeep without incident. Lori’s boots held together enough to get out before coming completely apart.