Two Meter Tour of the Tahoe Rim Trail (Aug 11-27)

Hi All!

Most of the years of my life, I have done a big backpacking or bicycle camping trip in the summer. I’m 51 years old so that amounts to going up and down the west coast of the United States multiple times. This past spring I got involved in amatuer radio, and recently I learned about Summits on the Air. It seems to be a natural fit for my interests; As a young man, I was a United States Marine Corps radio operator. 30+ years later, SOTA seems like a very enjoyable return to my roots! My backpacking trip for this summer is planned for August 11th to the 27th. I plan to hike around Lake Tahoe, in Northern California. 200+ miles with SOTA opportunities aplenty. I’m not following the Tahoe Rim Trail exactly but I do plan to put my foot down on every mile of the Tahoe Rim Trail.

My only radio at this point is a Yaesu FT-60 with a roll up J-pole, so I will need help from chasers in the Sacramento Valley, the Tahoe basin, and Nevada to successfully achieve activations.

Afternoon thunderstorms may affect my activation plans. I have been on a peak during a lightning storm and it scared the he** out of me. I’m not doing it again.

My approximate itinerary with all the summits looks like this:

Aug 11/12/13 - Donner Summit to Tahoe City
W6/NS-149 Mt. Lincoln 8 pts
W6/NS-121 Tinker Knob 8 pts
W6/NS-115 Granite Chief 8 pts
W6/NS-128 East Twin Peaks 8 pts

Aug 14/15/16 - Tahoe City to Mt Rose Highway
W6/NS-147 Mt Watson 8 pts
W6/NS-189 Gold Star Peak 8 pts
W7N//WC-001 Mt Rose 10 pts, or
W7N/WC-003 Tamarack Peak 8 pts

Aug 17/18/19 - Mt Rose Highway to Highway 207
W7N/WC - 005 - No name, elevation 9295 8 pts
W7WC - 008 - Herlan Peak 6 pts
W7/WC - 006 - No name 8728’ 6 pts
W7/TR - 014 - Duane Bliss Peak 6 pts
W7/TR - 007 - Genoa Peak 8 pts

Aug 20/21/22 Highway 207 to Highway 89
W6/NS - 061 - Monument Peak 8 pts unlikely unless I get motivated
W6/NS - 086 - No name 9614’ 8 pts maybe
W6/SN - 034 - Freel Peak 8 pts… Highly likely. 10,882’. Higher than 10 point peak Mt Rose. Highest peak in the Lake Tahoe basin. I may take an extra day here if thunderstorms prevent my success on my first try.
W6/NS - 084 - No name 9647’ - unlikely but possible.

Aug 23/24 - Highway 89 to Highway 50
W6/NS - 087 - Little Round Top 8 pts

Aug 25/26/27 - Highway 50 to Tahoe City
W6/NS - 068 - Dick’s Peak 8 pts
W6/NS - 154 - Lost Corner Mountain 8 pts
W6/NS - 128 - East Twin Peaks 8 pts (second shot at it)

If I get ahead of schedule, I may try to push all the way to Northstar and activate Mt Pluto. Resupply needs along the way will make getting ahead of schedule difficult though.


Semper FI Chris and welcome aboard. Former battery operated grunt here too! Sounds like a neat trip you have planned. Working 2M on the west side, with views into the Sac Valley area, 52 simplex should be ok as there’s a ton of ops down in the valley monitoring 52. For peaks that have coverage into the Reno area try 146.500 simplex. Reno locals tend to hang out there, and a few of them know of the SOTA program and will be there for you to get your 4 Q’s. Pluto sits in between Gold Star and Mt Watson, off of what the locals call the Mt Watson road. Not sure on the hiking route between Watson to Gold Star if you come close to the trailhead for Pluto. I’ve down all three off of Mt Watson road, and recall seeing quite a few hikers in the area near Gold Star. Not sure of my work sked that far in advance, but will try and keep an ear open for you during your trip. I’m 35 miles north of the lake, as the crow flies, so wouldn’t be able to hear you on simplex from my QTH, but can make arrangements to be over closer to the lake and do a bit of activating from some of the peaks north if I80. N6JFD and K1LB frequent this area as well - not sure if they carry 2M or not. I always have 52 simplex going in the background, and switch over to 50 simplex when in the Reno area. Good luck and hope to maybe get a chance to work you. Drop me a note at and I’ll shoot you my cell number in case you need any supplies, help, etc etc…73, Todd KH2TJ


Ambitious SOTA summit itinerary, OM!!

I am one of the shack sloths who monitor 146.520 FM (and QSO on it also) in the California foothills, and have chased several of those summits. From my home QTH, with the trusty phased array of 14 element beams, it should be no trouble at all. I can also help by arranging for some of my locals to be ready to chase as well.

As for your radio, that is a fine choice. Be sure to pick up one of the battery packs that accepts AA alkaline batteries for it. Just carry a spare set and you are good to go. They are also lighter than rechargeable packs.

As for your antenna, you will be disappointed. You would be much better off with one of the 1/2 wave telescoping antennas than that J-pole. The problem with J-poles is they have the same gain as a 1/2 wave dipole on transmit, but about -6 dB on receive. Too much to explain here, but that is just physics. You will be needing all the gain you can get on both transmit AND receive. If you don’t mind an additional purchase before your trip, pick up one of the Arrow brand backpack beams. They break down into a nice small, light package and will give you about 10 dB of real gain on both transmit and receive. Absolute must-have for any VHF-only SOTA activator, in my opinion.

Looking forward to spotting you! 73, and ZUT!

Oh, and as a Navy R.O., you might appreciate this-

As a member of the transmitter dept., that is where a lot of my spare time goes.

Ambitious, indeed! Hope you’ll consider HF at some point and increase your audience a couple orders of magnitude.

All Best, Ken K6HPX

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Thanks for the replies, gents! My wife is remodeling the kitchen before my hike. I am the laborer. Consequently I am exhausted tonight. I will re-read and digest everyone’s suggestions when I have my head in the game. I appreciate all the suggestions.


I really envy the people who have Elecraft KX3’s… super expensive though.

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I would really appreciate an explanation of this however long-winded, as would I’m sure a lot of other J-pole users on here !

73 de Paul G4MD

Hi Chris,

I expect to summit Mt.Whitney, W6/SN-001 on Aug. 12. Time is a guess at this point but hopefully mid morning before the threat of thunderstorms.
Hope to work you S2S on 146.520 or 446.00

Dean ~ K2JB

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Not so; the statement violates reciprocity; the antenna does not. There are non-reciprocal antennas, but ordinary antennas (such as a J-Pole) of ordinary materials are not among them.

That said, I agree that a backpack compatible and lightweight Yagi would be hard to beat for SOTA operations.

Respectfully, you are incorrect, Ken.

In a nutshell, when transmitting, a J-pole has sufficient currents fed out of phase to the “feedline” section at the bottom, and the top end (high impedance point) has one 1/2 wavelength element fed by one side of the balanced feedline. All good.

On receive, the signals hit the antenna and feedline IN phase. The balanced feedline section at the bottom does not work like a balanced feedline because currents on both sides are equal phase. Measured on an antenna test range, a J-pole has 6 dB gain less than a half wave dipole.

Been designing and building and installing antennas for AM/FM broadcast and SW for 34 years.


Hi Dean!
We have a nearly-clear line of sight if I am on Granite Chief, but we are 340KM apart. I am excited by the idea of S2S with the highest peak in the continental United States but I am not sure of my ability to hear through the noise.