Hiking the Fire Break to Red Mountain (3996 ft, W6 CT-162) 19 May 2915

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


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.

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.

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?!

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.

The summit ridge

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

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

3500 foot ridge from where I was sitting

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


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

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

Up and onto the 3500 foot ridge again

Taking a break, view back to Red Mountain

The steep parts were quite tiring

Almost back to the Jeep!

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!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Hal,

    Sounds like the ascent to Frankish Peak.
    Great activation – the hike is the way –


    Martin WN6E

  2. rkliman says:

    This was clearly one of the hardest ones you have taken on. Thanks for completing the activation. Even more thanks for your write up as it will help all the others who will take on this summit.

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