For a year I have been thinking off and on about “The Volcano” aka “Don’t Do It Peak”. To get to this peak, first you have to descend into the San Gabriel Wilderness. Last time, I had come upon a 20 foot rock wall I did not want to go down:

SAM_0368

https://halssota.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/recon-down-the-gully-dont-do-it-peak-w6-ct-083-15-august-2014/

I was thinking that perhaps I could get around to the right if I tried again. I wasn’t in the mood for any long freeway driving or long hikes in the heat (we are having a heat wave), so I thought I would go look again at this. It involves a descent of the gully about 1000 feet, then of course back up which was about what I wanted to do. I would follow this with a nice breakfast at Newcomb’s Ranch. I took a 50 foot nylon rope, but no rappelling (abseiling) gear since I didn’t want to get that serious.

I left the car at 0545, and started the descent from the saddle at 0600. After 50 minutes or so, I got down to the 20 foot wall. Sure enough, after observing carefully on the right I found I could descend on that side with little trouble. Feeling pretty good, I continued on. After a few minutes I saw light through the brush up ahead and I am thinking “Good grief! Not again!”. There was another drop to descend, this time 50 or 60 feet (15-20 meters)!

In the middle of the gully the drop is shear
SAM_1521

To the right is a dry waterfall, looks vaguely possible but corkscrews back to the left and disappears under the steeper part of the cliff
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To the left there is a dirt and rock chute with a very steep start. Photo is of the bottom of the chute, looks steep and slippery to get there
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For me, the right and left routes would need a proper rope (100 feet+) and abseil gear. There are good trees for anchors at the top of both. I would also want to be prepared to Prusik back up – this entails using loops of rope with friction knots to climb back up the main rope. I think the left route would be the best bet.

Tim K6TW and Bryan N0BCB must have used their enthusiasm to get down without a rope one way or another! They did come back another way (that actually proved very hard!)

View of “The Volcano” W6 CT-083 from the top of the cliff. It has acquired this local name because it is cone shaped
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Triplet Rocks over on Twin Peaks ridge
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I observed I was at an elevation just below a “bench” on the peak, shown on the map by a square. My estimated position is marked by the target circle. Red dots mark the ascent of Tim and Bryan from their gpx file.
vulcangullytopo

I spent a while resting, thinking, and drinking water…eventually the mosquitoes drove me back up. By the way, at the top of this cliff I noticed a cigarette butt so maybe someone had come here for a smoke! Or maybe it had been washed down the gully….I had observed some boot marks in the gravel during my descent.

Climbing up, I climbed straight up the 20 foot rock wall; it is much easier to climb up than to climb down.

I decided to call this gully “Vulcan Gully” in honor of “The Volcano”
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Dry waterfall on the east wall of the gully
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And I ended this adventure with a great breakfast at Newcomb’s Ranch: 3 eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, toast and hash browns!

And perhaps I will keep exploring for this strange SOTA peak, we shall see…

73!
Hal
N6JZT

My third hike to Baden Powell, and second SOTA activation of this peak. As usual, went the “easy” way from Dawson Saddle at 7900 ft. On the drive up the Angeles Crest Highway, I stopped near Mt Wilson to see if I could spot any Perseid meteors. I saw one near the rising crescent moon.

Previous activation
https://halssota.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/mt-baden-powell-w6ct-004-9400-ft-16-august-2013/

Looking back to Mt Lewis across Dawson Saddle
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From a distance, I had seen a flag flying at the top, here it is. I set up the station in the trees on the other side of it
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2 meter station, j-pole hanging in an old tree. Worked very well, 2m FM QSOs as far as San Diego.
SAM_1446

2m FM: KM6CEM KG7CZH (Tom on loading dock in Compton, for trucking to Oregon) KJ6TOA NG6R W5LIF NA6MG K6CMG
20m CW: KG3W W7RV K4MF AE5B WA9STI W0MNA K4YA W0ERI VE7KBN W4DOW NE4TN KQ2RP W4KRN K4PIC KX0R KW6E K1JD
30m CW: K6TUY

Good to have summit to summit QSOs with KX0R in Colorado, and K1JD in New Mexico

Iron Mountain (W6 CT-056), center right. Activated once by Patrick KK6KUM, a long and strenuous hike
SAM_1444

Don’t jump!

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I was wearing trail runners instead of boots, stubbed my toe on the way down. Ouch!
9 miles all together.

73! Hal N6JZT

This seems to be my first summer activation of Throop Peak. Previous activations were in the winter and spring:

https://halssota.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/throop-peak-w6-ct-005-9138-ft-20-jan-2014/

https://halssota.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/throop-peak-9138-ft-w6ct-005-24-may-2013/

So just a few photos for today’s activation.

Started up at 0635 for a nice hike with sunny cool weather and little wind. One and a quarter hours to the top from Dawson Saddle.

There used to be a post at the summit to attach the mast to, but it is gone. Set up the mast in some rocks, the transceiver and morse key on a log. I attached the 2 meter j-pole about half way up the mast using some velcro. The 20 meter dipole at the top of the mast
SAM_1433

Lots of QSOs on 20m and 2m, a few on 30m. There are a lot of people listening on 2 meters nowadays, I think SOTA has something to do with that! A few years ago the simplex frequency seemed pretty dead.

2m FM: KB6WWI N6HEG NA6MG KM6CEM KB6CIO N6MDV NG6R K6MET AA6P NK6A W6TOD WA9STI KJ6TOA K6QCB
20m CW: N4MJ W0MNA KK1W KG3W W0ERI W4DOW K6TUY K4MF KC6SSE
30m CW: K6TUY N7CW KF5J

Strange plant, some kind of moss? It has flowers. Wish I knew what it is…
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Back down the trail, with Mt Lewis over across Dawson Saddle
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Stopped at Newcomb’s Ranch for coffee and pancakes on the way back. Yum!

73!
Hal
N6JZT

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. The USGS National Map digital elevation tool shows that the prominence of Magic Mountain is 4865-4240 = 525 feet (159 meters) and should by rights be a SOTA peak. However peaklist.org lists it as only a 480 ft prominence due to the granularity of the 40 ft contour intervals on the old paper topo maps, so by W6 SOTA rules it is not a SOTA peak. Magic Mountain has the misfortune to have surrounding contours at 4840 feet and 4360 feet. Also, the top has been so heavily excavated over the years for defense and industrial use I am sure it is hard to say what the summit elevation really is nowadays. Some day I would like to ride my bike up there to view the old rocket engine test cells used to test some of the Apollo lunar lander engines back in the day…
SAM_1418

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.
SAM_1421

And going down the ridge
SAM_1423

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)
SAM_1400

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
SAM_1404

Set up the 20m dipole and 2m j-pole. Got on 2m first
SAM_1405

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
SAM_1408

Here is one of the washouts of the trail. There were a few others.
SAM_1409

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
SAM_1391

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)
SAM_1393

Mt Lukens (W6 CT-030) and Hoyt Mountain (W6 CT-146)
SAM_1394

And the hike down
SAM_1396

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

SAM_1315

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!
SAM_1317

SAM_1318

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:
SAM_1319

SAM_1329

Climb across the stile
SAM_1320

Then a foot path through Foxglove flowers
SAM_1322

Then a 4×4 track. Took about 35 minutes to get to the top, starting near the church. Elevation gain about 175m, 600 feet.
SAM_1323

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

SAM_1325

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

SAM_1328

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. The arrow shows the footpath I took.

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.
SAM_1293

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
SAM_1297

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

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