We are staying at the foot of Hardown Hill in the town of Whitchurch Canonicorum. The first evening, I hiked to the summit to check out an operating site, there was a good one at a bench on the top. Set off the next morning with the HFgear, a nice walk along country lanes, then a foot path through Foxglove flowers then a 4×4 track. Took about 35 minutes to get to the top, starting near the church. Elevation gain about 175m, 600 feet.

My photos are still in the camera, will add them next week. Here is a stock photo courtesy of wikipedia commons, Hardown Hill in the distance.

Path_at_the_top_of_Golden_Cap_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1146049
Set up on the bench, antenna system a efhw with a Mountain Tuner and Minipole from SOTAbeams. I had tested this with my HB1B in St Albans, I had been picked up by a Finish RBN skimmer so I knew it worked. Just as advertised, you just adjust the capacitor for maximum receive noise and it works!

CQ on 20m, quick QSOs with two Czech stations on 14.062, then a Russian station. Called CQ for a while with no more takers, some digital interference started up so shifted to 14.0595. This was much better with 8 more chasers in Hungary, Germany, Poland and Spain.

20m CW: OK2PDT OK1DVM RA1QEA HA4TJ DL8DXL DL3HXX EA2LU EA2DT SP9AMH DL2HWI EA2GM

Thank you all for a great activation! It was particularly nice to work EA2LU since I have worked him from California, I think I have also worked EA2DT from California too.

73! Hal N6JZT

Staying in St, Albans, we have now rented a car, so took a drive over to Wendover Woods near Tring. Only took FM gear since I did not want to bore my family with CW HF…

Carefully (grimly?) driving on the left side of the road
haldriving

This is a drive up hill, there is a nice cafe at the top where we first had lunch

With my son Stephen. 2m HT and SOTAbeams multi-function dipole antenna
halstephen

With my wife Miriam
halmiriam

Worked Wayne 2E0WDJ from the parking lot, he was in Bedford maybe 30 miles away. My call sign: M/N6JZT/P

We took a nice walk through the forest for an hour. The top is nearly flat and the activation zone is very large.
Walking

I made one more contact, with Derrick G4SWY in Bushey Heath
Hal HT

There is a 2500 year old Celtic fort there in the forest, we walked beside the embankment they made so long ago
fort

Back at the cafe for coffee
owl

A very nice day, warm and some sun and a nice walk through the emerald forest. Only 2 QSOs but that’s what I expected on 2m, so not at all disappointed. Will probably activate again in 2 weeks with HF.
emeraldforest

73! Hal N6JZT

Thought I would would hike two peaks that I had never been to before: Mt Markham and Mt Lowe. They do not have prominences of 500 ft, so they are not official SOTA peaks. Markham has a prominence of about 434 ft (131m), Lowe a prominence of about 287 ft (87m). They are near Occidental Peak, Mt. Wilson, San Gabriel Peak, and Mt Disappointment. So they are some of the nearer peaks to my house and not a long drive. I planned to take my 2 meter radio, but not HF, as I would not be spotting on the SOTA site.

Mt Lowe is quite historic: Professor Thaddeus Lowe built a railway within 1100 vertical feet of the summit in about 1893. It terminated at “Ye Alpine Tavern”, which unfortunately burned down in 1936, so you can no longer get a beer there if you are hiking! The scenic railway was abandoned after torrential rains in 1938.

View of Mt Lowe (L) and Mt Markham (R), from a previous hike to Occidental Peak.
100_2413

Started the hike at 0615, took an hour to get to the top of Mt Markham from Eaton Saddle. There was quite a lot of Poodle Dog bush on the ridge up the peak. So I went slowly to avoid brushing against it.

View of Mt Wilson from Mt Markham
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The flat summit. All the Poodle Dog creeped me out so i didn’t stay too long!
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Radio set up with Mt Lowe in the background.
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Made the following QSOs on 2m: Charles KM6CEM, Dave KJ6TOA San Diego, Scott WA9STI, Roy KR6RG San Diego, Bob KB6CIO, Eric N6HEG, Ray WA6NVL San Diego, Charles WB6MIO. San Diego stations were about 120 miles (200 km) away.

Then down the ridge of Markham and over to Mt Lowe. Took half an hour.
SAM_1296

The trail was nicely graded and only had a little Poodle Dog near it, so it was much more pleasant than Mt Markham
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At the summit, a nice bench, and sighting tubes to the nearby mountains. These are left over from the railway era, as is a steel flagpole.
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History of Mt Lowe

SAM_1298

Made a lot of nice 2m FM QSOs
Clifford KK6QMS, Anthony KB6WWI, KM6CEM, WA6NVL, N6HEG, Walter KK6CJA, KB6CIO, KR6RG, Pearson KK6HRS, KJ6TOA, Dave WB6POJ, Time KE6QBV, Mark KJ6EOE, Phill N0KE heading back to Colorado, Dave N2FLT, Mark WX7MB

Mt Lowe is certainly much nicer than Markham. Mt Lowe is a great view point. I am sure I will visit Mt Lowe again but probably not Mt Markham for a while; too much Poodle Dog on Markham.

San Gabriel Peak (W6 CT-019), Mt Markham, and Occidental Peak (W6 CT-098).
SAM_1308

A nice hike down, took just over half an hour to get back to the Mt Wilson Road. Then I took a short drive to Skyline Park at Mt Wilson, where I had a Clif Bar and some coffee. The weather was hot and still today, about 80F (26C) at the end of the hike. The first hike where it feels like summer!

73!
Hal
N6JZT

I was thinking of doing the long way again, from Islip Saddle, but decided to be lazy and did the direct route up to Windy Gap from the Angeles Crest Highway, then up to the summit; only an hour and 10 minutes.
20 minutes to windy gap from the road, up the steep use trail

Above Windy Gap. A beautiful sunny day, temperature about 60F (16C)
SAM_1279

Near the top I saw two big horn rams! Yes, those horns are big! They ambled off before I managed to take a photo.

View south. Monrovia Peak (W6 CT-028) on the sky line, unactivated Peak 4654 (W6 CT-127) the rocky peak in the middle ground
SAM_1280

Set up the 20m dipole and hung the 2m j-pole in a tree. Quickly worked WA7JTM on W7A AE-009 summit to summit on 20m, then went to 2m for 20 minutes. Later K7JFD s2s on W7A AP-006.
SAM_1281

isliplog12_6_15

Worked some 2m now and then while I was also operating HF. After finishing on HF, hung the j-pole on the mast and got a better signal down to San Diego; worked my former colleague Ray WA6NVL; he and I retired on the same day at the same time almost 4 years ago. We processed out together! That was a good day!

View from the operating site after the gear was packed away
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Throop Peak (W6 CT-005) to the east
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And a quick hike down
SAM_1285

Like last week, ran into some PCT hikers who wanted a short lift up the road to bypass the restricted area; this time three hikers. Dropped them off at Buckhorn campground so they could get some extra water.

Later, at mile marker 29 a few miles above La Canada, passed by an accident site where two cars had collided. The drivers seemed to be OK. When I got to cell phone range I started to call 911 but just then some emergency vehicles came by, so I terminated the call. Someone else had called before me, so that was OK.

73!
Hal N6JZT

Again, one of my favorites. Above the Angeles Crest Highway. Started the hike at 0630 up the west trail: the shady side in the morning. Dan NA6MG was planning on being on Mt Islip (W6 CT-010), a few miles away to the south.

LA Basin covered by the marine layer again
SAM_1267

Nice hike up, worked Dan for the first time when I was about half an hour from the top. He was already at the summit of Islip.

First a 2m summit to summit QSO with Dan. Then spent half an hour putzing about trying to get a site out of the light wind. I am getting too picky! Finally set up here
SAM_1270

I set up the 20m dipole, and hung the 2m j-pole in a tree so I could work both at the same time if needed.
The j-pole is so much better than the rubber duck on the HT, I really enjoy 2m SOTA now!

20m CW: N4EX N7AMA K8TE K7TQ NK6A K7ZO W0MNA K0LAF W0ERI NA6MGNS7P K9FO
30m CW: W7RV AE9F
2m FM: NA6MG WA6FMZ KN6KS KM6CEM N6HEG KJ6NAL KJ6TOA (San Diego) KK6UDI WB6POJ KE6QBV

Was the first simplex contact for Dan KK6UDI. I could hear Sandy’s KJ6NAL grandchild playing in the background!
30m was weaker than usual. Tom W7RV usually 599 but was 579 with QSB lower today.

View to the east
SAM_1271

Walking through the sky. Mt Islip where Dan was is right
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Mt Waterman (W6 CT-012) with ski runs visible
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When I got down to the Angeles Crest Highway I drove a short distance to an area with picnic tables, and had a cheese sandwich, potato chips, and a coke. Took this picture of Twin Peaks (W6 CT-064) 7761 ft, and the cone-shaped “Don’t Do It Peak” (aka The Volcano) W6 CT-083 6340 ft.

SAM_1276

After lunch, a young woman flagged me down at the Mt Williamson trailhead as I was passing by. She asked me to give her a lift to Cloudburst Summit so she could avoid the part of the Pacific Crest Trail that had been detoured for environmental reasons (to protect the yellow legged frog). Her name was Serena and she was heading for Canada. I briefed her on the Poodle Dog bush near Mt Pacifico and Mt Gleason, and showed her on her maps how to avoid these regions by taking the USFS roads instead of the PCT. She was very grateful for this information! Dropped her off at the PCT crossing a couple of miles beyond Cloudburst, good luck Serena!

Later as I drove down I descended through the cloud layer which was 2000 feet thick.

73! Hal N6JZT

Mt. Waterman is one of my favorites; a moderate hike of about 6 miles total, 1200 ft or so elevation gain, and very pretty terrain through pines, cedar and boulders. Started at 0620…nice to start in the light and not at dawn for a change!

Previous activations:

https://halssota.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/mt-waterman-28-december-2012/

https://halssota.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/mt-waterman-18-january-2013/

https://halssota.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/hike-to-mt-waterman-8038-ft-w6ct-012-10-may-2014/

https://halssota.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/mt-waterman-w6-ct-012-8038-ft-9-dec-2014/

Smith Mountain (W6 CT-120), LA Basin covered in the so-called “Marine Layer” from the Pacific Ocean

SAM_1247

Today, I set up at a more comfortable place a little below the summit
SAM_1248

Hung the slim jim j-pole for 2m on a tree branch, and the dipole on the mast. Started on 2m with Charles KM6CEM 59+.

2m FM: KM6CEM KB6CIO KN6CCW NA6MG KK6HRS N6PRX KD6CQS N6HEG W6UKE K6CMG K6QCB
20m CW: W0MNA W0ERI KG3W K4MF N4MJ W4DOW N4EX K0LAF NS7P K8TE KK1W NF1R W3ATT N8DEA WS0TA (S2S W5N PW 020)
30m CW: N7EDK NM5S

Welcome new chaser Eric N6HEG!

The (almost) inaccessible triplet rocks on Twin Peaks, through the telephoto
SAM_1250

Wearing my wool shirt, was warm enough in the sun and temp in the mid 50s (12C) I did not really need it today. Beautiful weather!
SAM_1251

Decided to take the jeep road down, for a change
SAM_1252

Not much water in the reservoir near the ski area
SAM_1253

Chatted with Todd at the ski area (top of Chair 1) They will be opening for mountain biking and “disc (i.e. frisbee) golf” in a couple of weeks. Saw his tabby cat “Squeak”…he told me his other tabby “Pip” had sadly passed away.

Nice walk down the jeep road
SAM_1254

As usual, 1 3/4 hours up, 1 hour down.

73!
Hal
N6JZT

I had been looking at Red Mountain on the map off and on for a year or so; I had written it off as inaccessible, probably covered in dense chaparral. It had never been activated for SOTA. A week ago I looked at the satellite map and saw that a giant fire break had been cut to the summit, probably during the Powerhouse fire of 2013. I also found a video on Youtube of four hikers who had climbed Grass Mountain, Tule Ridge, and Red Mountain all in one day! I alerted for Red, then got an email from Dan NA6MG; he had been planning to do Red Mountain too, but had a bad knee so decided not to!

The start of the fire break is north off of Dry Gulch Road, about 0.6 miles east of Lake Hughes Road. You can also get there from San Francisquito Road. Set off from home around 0340. After arriving in the dark, had some coffee, set off when it was light enough at 0520. The temperature was cool, about 46F (8C). No wind.

View back down the fire break. Dry Gulch Road runs along the bottom of the canyon

SAM_1210

View up the fire break. Many sections were very steep. I found the steepness demoralizing! You first get to humps at 2700 feet and then 3000 feet.
SAM_1211

On the subsidiary summits at about 3500 ft; the “3500 foot ridge”. Almost gave up here; looking through the haze into the sun made it look a long way off. I figured it was an optical illusion so thought I would continue to see how things went.
SAM_1213

Looking back to the fire break and 3500 foot ridge. Lots of up and down! Amazing how they brought the bulldozers through here to ram through this fire break. When I was a kid, I wanted to have a job like that, how come I couldn’t be a bulldozer driver plowing giant fire breaks??!! What happened?!
SAM_1217

Went up this steep track, got to the ridge shortly. At the top, bushes and boulders obscured the track, so I made some arrows in the dirt and made a stone duck so I could find my way back down.
SAM_1216

The summit ridge
SAM_1218

Summit is nearly flat. this pile of rocks is on the west end. I didn’t set up here because of the Poodle Dog bush, growing after the fire
SAM_1221

Set up here. You can see a fire break continuing east along the ridge out to San Francisquito Canyon
SAM_1223

3500 foot ridge from where I was sitting
SAM_1225

First got on 2m and made a QSO. Then 20m and 30m, only operated HF for half an hour since I was feeling so beat up from the ascent, and knew the steepness of the descent would beat me up some more.

2m FM: N6TKP Rick, out for a hike about 20 miles away to the south

20m CW: N4EX NM5S K8TE K4MF K7NEW W0MNA W0ERI NA6MG NE4TN NU7A WH6LE AC1Z KH6/NF1R

30m CW: W7RV W7USA

Heard Bob K6TUY call ??? on 30m but he could not hear me.

Headed down the ridge, found my markings to locate the start of the steep track down. Then up and down along the large fire break. Whoever bulldozed it must have had fun! I wished the bulldozer was there to give me a ride down!

View back to the saddle….doesn’t look too far in this light
SAM_1230

Warm Springs Mountain to the west (W6 CT-159)
SAM_1229

Up and onto the 3500 foot ridge again
SAM_1232

Taking a break, view back to Red Mountain
SAM_1235

The steep parts were quite tiring
SAM_1239

Almost back to the Jeep!
SAM_1241

Feeling spent when I got back to the start!. 2 hours 35 minutes up, 2 hours down. 2400 feet elevation gain up, 400 feet on return. Just over 3 miles each way. I had also alerted for Burn Benchmark (W6 CT-136), but canceled when I got to where my cell phone started to work; I was too tired for another activation!

73!
Hal
N6JZT

Thought I would ride Mt Lukens the “long” way this time: 7 miles (11km) and 3000 ft (900m) elevation gain from the USFS fire station on Angeles Crest Highway, just a few miles above La Canada. The start of the ride is only a 45 minute drive from my house, whcih is why I wanted to do it. I get tired of driving so much!

Actually, for the previous week I had been planning on hiking and activating Liebre Mountain (W6 CT-095), a 90 mile drive. But on Monday my wife made me assemble some IKEA furniture so I was too tired to do a long drive! And switched to Lukens instead…by a funny coincidence I got an email from Dan NA6MG inviting me to do Burnt Peak and Liebre Mountain but I couldn’t face the drive at this point!

Previous activation along Grizzly Flats Road described here:
https://halssota.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/mt-lukens-w6-ct-030-5066-feet-on-a-new-mountain-bike-21-feb-2014/
Started the ride at 0500. After half an hour arriving at a bench and view point over the city

SAM_1179d

Not yet arrived at the Grizzly Flat Road intersection…press on along the ridge
SAM_1185d

When I started the clouds were further down in the LA Basin, now creeping up towards the mountains
SAM_1186d

Mountain shadow on the clouds below
SAM_1187d

A pretty day, cool with a light wind
SAM_1188d

Communications towers on the top of Mt. Lukens in sight
SAM_1190d

Set up the radio, first the j pole on 2m and worked Dan NA6MG on Burnt Peak, W6 CT-093, then Charles KM6CEM. Enabled the 10 dB attenuator in the HT to reduce the intermod from the comm towers.
SAM_1192d

2m FM: NA6MG KM6CEM W6TOD KK6HRS KE6HRV NK6A K6SYW
20m CW: N0TK/M W0MNA N4EX W0ERI WB5USB NS7P K7NEW N9KW KH2TJ N4MJ W4MPS KO7X K9ZMD NA6MG NU7A WG8Y WG0AT W7/DL6AP/P (S2S W7W/NO-163)
30m CW: W7RV K8TE N7EDK W7/DL6AP/P

Iron Mountain #2 (W6 CT-024) left of center on skyline ridge, the big mass of Condor Peak (W6 CT-027) center and just across the valley
SAM_1195d

Clouds higher now
SAM_1196d

Towers on summit
SAM_1197d

Heading down
SAM_1198d

Pretty section of the ride
SAM_1204d

I guess I am at cloud level now
SAM_1205d

Ride through spring flowers
SAM_1207d

Sign post at the start, just above the USFS station
SAM_1208d

Took three and a quarter hours up, mostly pushing the bike when the road was too steep for me. One hour down. Seven miles each way, 3000 ft elevation gain

73!
Hal N6JZT

Previous activations are described here:

https://halssota.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/mt-pacifico-by-mountain-bike-7124-ft-w6ct-015-3-may-2014/

and

https://halssota.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/pacifico-mountain-7200-feet-w6ct-015-cool-morning-and-baked-on-the-descent-25-july-2013/

This was another mountain bike ride. I found that Sulphur Springs Road to the trail head is being resurfaced, more about this later…most of the resurfacing has been completed.

Started at 0630 and had a nice ride up, took one and three quarters hours, the final mile mostly pushing up the steeper road to the top.

Mt Gleason (W6 CT-017) in the background
SAM_1161d

2 meter set up with j-pole on the mast. It was colder than I thought it would be so I wore three layers under a windproof jacket, luckily I was sheltered from the light wind.
SAM_1162d

Worked Charles KM6CEM on 2m, then KB6WWI. Then set up for HF. Didn’t seem to get out as well as usual on HF, maybe my antenna was too close to the pine tree.

2m FM: KM6CEM KB6WWI N6MKW (S2S on Smith Mtn CT-120)) NA6MG K6TW KK6RHP KR6RG
20m CW: NE4TN NS7P K4MF N7CW NA6MG N9KW VE2JCW NM5S K7ZO NK6A K6TUY WA9STI KG3W WG0AT NU7A
30m CW: W7RV WB5USB K6TUY

For my latter 2m QSOs, moved up to the summit rocks with the j-pole to get better line of sight to the LA basin to the south. Worked Dan NA6MG, Tim K6TW in my home city of Torrance, and Roy KR6RG near the Mexican border; I had worked him from Mt Baldy last summer, and also from my garage(!) QTH the other day. Roy has a 17 foot vertical for 2m and is up a couple hundred feet.
SAM_1163d

Headed down, the easy part on the bike!
SAM_1167d

Pleasant View Ridge and Pallett Benchmark (W6 CT-058)
SAM_1165d

SAM_1171d

Got back to the Jeep and headed back along the road…almost to the Angeles Crest Highway and: the road crew was resurfacing Sulphur Springs Road. The roller drive asked that I go back to a dirt road to get back out to the ACH. He gave me directions, but suggested I stop at the Angeles Crest Christian camp to get better directions. So I did!

Angeles Crest Christian Camp
SAM_1172d

Here I found Brian in the office, and he kindly directed me to USFS road 3N14. This was back further almost to where I began my ride up Pacifico on 3N17. The road was easy to find, nice to see a road that is open and not  closed by a gate! The road was narrow and scenic, not too rough and could be done by any two wheel drive vehicle.

The sign says “Road Narrows”
SAM_1173d

Looking across the valley to Pacifico
SAM_1176d

The 3N14 road finally comes out through the Chilao visitors center/picnic area, after passing by the Chilao USFS ranger station

73!
Hal N6JZT

There are five SOTA Peaks near Bouquet Reservoir: Bee (CT-169), Jupiter (CT-140), Grass Mtn (CT-130), Burn (CT-136) and Granite (CT-132). Did Bee Peak last time, so thought I would do a couple more. Usually I only like to do one activation, but Jupiter Mountain is a short hike (1.5 miles each way, 1200 ft elevation gain) and Grass Mountain is a drive up so OK for two this time.

Up Spunky Canyon Road to the saddle, the trail begins opposite USFS road 6N09, also known as Spunky Edison Road! Start the hike here, after 300 feet or so there is a fork; I took the left which is the steep moto trail to the top. I believe the right fork is less steep and leads around west to a saddle between Jupiter and West Jupiter. Then you would reach the top by following the ridge back east.

SAM_1124a

Steep! Too steep for my mountain bike today.
SAM_1129a

Bouquet Reservoir down below. Took 50 minutes to get to the top.
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There is now a nice little bench at the summit. Attached the mast and operated here.
SAM_1131a

Operated 20m and 30m
20m CW: KT5X N7KRN N7WM WG0AT W4DOW N4EX AC1Z W0MNA W0ERI WD9F KK1W N0EVH NN9K AE7AP N4MJ WB5USB K4MF W3ATT KG3W NA6MG N9KW W3DX
30m CW: W7RV W7JET W7USA

Now on to Grass Mountain!
SAM_1132a

On the way down
SAM_1138a

Spunky Edison Road 6N09. You could take this up to a saddle, then follow 6N04 west (L)  for Burn Benchmark (CT-136) and then a short walk to the top. Not sure if you need 4 wheel drive or not for 6N09.
SAM_1140a

Drove down and through the nice little town of Green Valley, right at the junction and then up to the saddle where USFS road 6N04 crosses the main road. West goes up Grass Mountain, East is the way to Burn.
SAM_1141a

Three miles on the narrow dirt road to the top. The drop off is steep in most places, I was nervous since I am not used to driving roads like this. OK walking and on the bike!
SAM_1143a

You come to a fork and go left on 6N05 to the top.

The top is grassy with pine trees and a comm site. A guy was camping under the shade of the trees. So it was pretty quiet; I believe people come to fly radio controlled gliders up here.
SAM_1144a

Looking over to Jupiter (L) and West Jupiter (R)
SAM_1145a

Again worked 20m and 30m CW:
20m CW: WB5USB KT5X W7RV W7USA K7ZO NS7P W7CNL N7KRN N9KW AE7AP N7WM N4MJ N4EX K4MF KG3W
30m CW: K6EL (S2S) NA6MG K6TUY K5SSR KC6SSE

Now heading down
SAM_1147a

SAM_1148a

Mind the drop off!
SAM_1152a

73!
Hal
N6JZT

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