I had some funny issues regarding access to Peak 3784 W6 CT-168. Here are the SOTA comments that I made and Dan NA6MG made online:

Access Problems Dec 2014 (this was after my Sierra Pelona hike)
The old access via Diamondback now has some firm No Trespassing signs. Went over to scope out the access via the west ridge, at sign 6808 Escondido Canyon Road (not fenced or signed NT). A nice young woman named Nellie stopped by and asked if she could help me, I explained SOTA to her…it turns out that that land is owned by her grandfather, and they live at the next property along the road to the southwest (with the white gate). She said grandfather would be home in an hour but I said I didn’t want to bother him right now. See Dan NA6MGs comment haha! All OK for the hike now!

UPDATE to access issue
Update on access via 6808 Escondido Canyon Road at mile marker 4.51. I made contact with the property owner of the parcel that is 2 lots to the south, Nellie’s grandfather. He told me that Nellie has been instructed to dupe anyone that she sees in the area into believing that her grandfather owns all the property in the adjacent lots to discourage them from entering. He told me there have been problems with drug users in the area. He also told me that he doesn’t own the adjacent properties and that nobody does. They are for sale. He says that lots of people hike and ride their horses up the trail that starts at 6808 E.C.R. He advised that I park there and go ahead and hike to the summit. So, I did…

Hahaha!

Dan also did a title search on the land and found it is listed as “Vacant”. I don’t know who “owns’ it; often land is taken over by the county when the owner no longer pays property taxes on it. I did see a real estate agent’s “for sale” sign on the vacant property immediately to the right of 6808 Escondido Canyon Road. Some time ago I googled California trespass law: what I found stated that you may not go on land that is fenced or has no trespassing signs spaced every third of a mile. This property has neither fencing nor signs.

Here is the start of the hike at 6808 Escondido Canyone Road. I parked about 50 yards over to the left
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Head up the track, then the ridge leads up to the summit in about a half hour
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Set up on the summit rocks
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Snow Benchmark (W6 CT-121) left center. Magic Mountain right.
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First on 20m, was able to spot via text on cell phone. Set up the 40m dipole extensions, but was getting RF feedback or something, the transceiver was going crazy. So I then set up for 30m as normal. I had tested the antenna at home on 40m with an antenna analyzer, but had not tested it with the HB1B. I was glad to get Dan on 30m so he got his SOTA complete on this one. I got a SOTA complete on this one today too.

20m CW: NG6R AE9F K4MF W0MNA W0ERI KG3W N4MJ W4KRN KB2JWD (FL)
30m CW: K9ZMD K0LAF NA6MG W7CNL NU7A K8TE

I heard W7RV on 30m but he couldn’t hear me. Conditions were odd with very deep QSB. Thanks to all chasers for hearing my weak signal!

Sierra Pelona (W6 CT-116) to the north. Across the 14 Freeway.
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And going down the ridge
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I then drove back over to Sand Canyon to do a drive up activation of W6 CT-158, Fernando 2 Benchmark aka Los Pinetos. My two previous activations are below, so I will only put in one new photo

https://halssota.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/los-pinetos-nike-hercules-site-w6ct-158-aka-fernando-2-benchmark-4020-ft-11-dec-2013/

https://halssota.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/vhf-activation-of-los-pinetos-nike-site-fm2-benchmark-w6-ct-158-4020-ft-28-july-2014/

The peak from Sand Canyon
SAM_1428

2m FM: W6TOD KD6QMS NA6MG KK6QMS
20m CW: W0RW K4MF NG6R WA6KYR K7ZO W0MNA W0WEI K0LAF N4EX W7CNL NS7P
30m CW: W7RV NA6MG

Again, thanks for hearing my weak HF signal!
I heard Charles KM6CEM 22 on 2m, he could not hear me.
The other stations on 2m were very strong, Dan was S9++ on my rubber duck antenna.

Weather was hot and sunny!
73!
Hal
N6JZT

I had wanted to hike Throop Peak, but we had some torrential rains about five days ago. This had caused mud slides, so the Angeles Crest Highway is closed above Islip Saddle. I have hiked Throop from islip Saddle before, but it is rather long and I wanted a moderate hike to start getting in shape again after the vacation. So decided to do Strawberry Peak.

My previous Strawberry Peak Activation is described here:
https://halssota.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/strawberry-peak-6164-ft-w6-ct-018-5-sept-2014/

Started at 0610.

Peak 4202, Hoyt Mountain, Mt Lukens, and Yerba Buena Ridge (R in the distance)
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The trail was washed away in places due to the rain. It was also rockier than normal. Saw two deer on the final ridge up Strawberry.

San Gabriel Peak and Mt Disappointment
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Set up the 20m dipole and 2m j-pole. Got on 2m first
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Jeff K6QCB spotted me on 2m, and Charles KM6CEM spotted me for HF

2m FM: WB6POJ KM6CEM K6QCB K6WSJ KR6RG NG6R N6KUZ
20m CW: W0MNA W0ERI WA6KYR K6TUY NA6MG K4MF N4EX KC6SSE N4MJ NU7A
30m CW: K6EL K6TUY WA6RWI W7CNL

Ate some cookies for breakfast during the activation, and drank a pint of water.

Saw this amazing horned toad on the way down. It is matched for the gray gravel. Apparently these animals can change their color patterns within a few minutes to match the terrain
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Here is one of the washouts of the trail. There were a few others.
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Took 2 hours and 10 minutes to do the 3 miles and 1600 feet elevation gain to the top. One hour 40 minutes down.

There is now a nice sign at the beginning of the trail across the road from the Red Box picnic area. Perhaps they have some additional funding for such things now!
SAM_1410

73!
Hal
N6JZT

I wanted to try the SOTAbeams Mountain Tuner back here in the states. It had worked pretty well in England. So I cut a 67 foot length of 22 gauge wire, and found that outside at home I could attain VSWR of 1.5 on 40m, and 2.5 on 20m. It works as a half wave dipole on 20m, and a full wave on 20m.

Since this would be a test, I chose the easily accessible Peak 4202 (“Firefighters’s Hill”): about an hour drive from the house, and 525 ft elevation gain for a half hour hike. I was also breaking in some new hiking boots! I call it Firefighters’ Hill since the crew from the fire station at the base of the hill often put on all there gear, grab a chainsaw, and hike or run up the hill for physical training.

Condor Peak in view on the way up
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Propagation predictions using VOACAP on 40m and 20m. Peak 4202 has 6000 ft mountains to the north and east, so take off angles below 10 degrees or so are not possible; hence the 20m propagation prediction is probably optimistic.
prop

It took about 45 minutes to get the antenna up; the hook at the top of the 13 foot mast kept getting pulled out by the tension in the antenna wire. This was frustrating as the regular dipole only takes 5 minutes or so. I think a 25 foot mast would work much better. I set up the mast down the hill on a scrub bush. I managed to anchor the tuner using string tied around some rocks at the surface nearer to the summit. The wire ran NW to SE. For much of its length the wire was only a few feet above the ground. I used a counterpoise about 2 meters long. I have seen Dan set up his EFHW; he uses a taller mast, and uses a braced trekking pole to anchor the feed end. .
SAM_1392

I tuned the tuner for highest noise on 40m, and Dan NA6MG spotted me (we had been coordinating on 2m FM). After some good QSOs on 40m, switched to 20m and again tuned for highest noise. Made some good QSOs on 20m, though signals were weaker than usual, perhaps due to the QTH surrounded by mountains, lower antenna than normal, or both.

40m CW: W7RV NG6R NA6MG KH2TJ K8TE K6EL
20m CW: W0MNA N7WM W0ERI N4EX K4MF VE2JCW WB5USB NE4TN K0LAF K7FO K6HWD in Hollywood
2m FM: NA6MG N6HEG KB6WWI WB6POJ KE6QBV

Later, back at home, the RBN showed that the antenna had been working well, particularly on 40m. The 40m RBN skimmers are between 350 and 620 miles away (560 to 1000 km). The 20m skimmer is 1700 miles away (2700 km)
rbn

Condor Peak (W6 CT-027)
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Mt Lukens (W6 CT-030) and Hoyt Mountain (W6 CT-146)
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And the hike down
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So a successful experiment with an end fed antenna, of course with a few teething pains!

73!
Hal
N6JZT

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. This is an approach from the north. Up Ryall Road to Crooked Lane

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Along Crooked Lane to Goodens Hill, up to and along Taylors Lane. NOTE use Bing Maps, Google Maps labels Goodens Hill as Lower Street which is wrong!
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Taylors Lane meets up with /Pitman’s Lane/Loscombes Well Road. According to the map there are two footpaths to choose, the first unmarked one seemed to go close to a house so I took the next one a couple hundred yards further east which was well sign posted:
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Climb across the stile
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Then a foot path through Foxglove flowers
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Then a 4×4 track. Took about 35 minutes to get to the top, starting near the church. Elevation gain about 175m, 600 feet.
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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

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SAM_1326

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.

Beautiful purple gorse in bloom

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73! Hal N6JZT

PS Parking!

I looked to find parking spots

You could park here at the intersection of Crooked Lane and Goodens Hill across from the white house, the resident of the white house parks here so if you do leave him some room,,,

SAM_1353

A great spot is 100 yards up along Goodens Hill from the white house, and on the right, I would park here (Lat 50.749124, Long -2.855155), marked “P” on the map below

SAM_1354

map2

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

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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
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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
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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

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Today, I set up at a more comfortable place a little below the summit
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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
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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!
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Decided to take the jeep road down, for a change
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Not much water in the reservoir near the ski area
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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

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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.
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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?!
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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.
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The summit ridge
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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
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Set up here. You can see a fire break continuing east along the ridge out to San Francisquito Canyon
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3500 foot ridge from where I was sitting
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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
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Warm Springs Mountain to the west (W6 CT-159)
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Up and onto the 3500 foot ridge again
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Taking a break, view back to Red Mountain
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The steep parts were quite tiring
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Almost back to the Jeep!
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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

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