Rockets, a Rattlesnake, and Magic Mountain (W6 CT-255) 4860 ft, 14 May 2016

I had wanted to visit Magic Mountain for a long time because of its association with the early “Space Age”. In the 1950s it was the site for the Nike Ajax integrated fire control radars of the “Lang Site”. When this was decommissioned, it was the site of a rocket engine test facility for the Marquardt Corporation. Back in the day, Marquardt was a major player in aerospace, with expertise in ramjets and small rocket engines. Marquardt provided the reaction control system (i.e. directional control thrusters) for the Apollo spacecraft which went to the moon. The engines were tested on Magic Mountain!

An artists conception of the Magic Mountain test facility, dating from 1964

MagicMtnTestFacility

The newspaper is here, it is worth a read. It is called “Space News Roundup”!

NASAnews_64-02-19

So I anticipated an interesting trip. The summit of Magic Mountain is approached via the Santa Clara Divide Road, at Bear Divide at the top of Little Tujunga and Sand Canyons. Here, the road to Los Pinetos W6 CT-158 heads west, and a few hundred feet north the road to Magic Mountain heads east. The road to Magic Mountain is closed to the general public (unlike the road to Los Pinetos); it has a locked gate at the start. It is paved and I rode my bike. I started the ride at 0540, about 15 minutes before sun rise. I pushed the bike for the first 5 minutes, then was able to ride for the next hour; it was not too steep.

The valley was covered in clouds but it was clear and cool up here

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Looking back along the ride. There are a couple of short down hill sections during the first hour

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After the second down hill, the road steepened and I pushed for the next 40 minutes.

Pretty flowers, with a nice scent. The bees came out later when it was warmer and enjoyed these flowers

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Transmission towers on the summit are in view

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After pushing, I was able to ride again when the road got less steep. I reached the junction of the spur road to the summit at the two hour point. Summit is left, road to right continues to Snow Benchmark, Mt Gleason, and even to Mt Pacifico!

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I pushed the final 15 minutes up the steep road. The whole ride/walk is 7 miles, 2300 feet gain.

Water tanks are visible, remnants of the space age

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This is one of the two rocket engine test stands. During test, water from the tanks was sprayed into the exhaust to cool the concrete structure. The rocket engine exhaust was expelled below the test stand through the side.

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Set up at the top not far from the radio transmission buildings.

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Comparing reality with the previous artist’s picture, it looks to me like the labs and control room were put at the summit, and there are only two rocket test cells; the lower one specifically for the Lunar Module engines was never built. I assume they were tested on the other test stands to save money.

Started on 2 meters, made many contacts; Dan NA6Mg spotted me. Unfortunately Charles KM6CEM could not hear my 5 watts, though I could hear him on his higher power home station.

20m was also good; Jerry NG6R spotted me.

2m FM: K6PKO KK6MZF NA6MG KX6A N6WMG KB6WWI WC6Q W6PNG s2s  NG6R N6HEG KM6LN KJ6IIR

20m CW: WW7D N8BB N4EX W0MNA KA5PVB W0ERI NS7P W5ODS KX0R K4MF KG3W WG0AT K6HPX W4KRN W4DOW N4MJ W7RV WH6LE s2s

30m CW: W0RT

As I was wrapping up with KM6LN I heard an unfamiliar swishing sound to my left. Then working Mike KJ6IIR in Acton I looked over when the swishing sound happened again and there was a Rattlesnake heading for a bush!  I guess it was 10 feet away. The swishing sound was the sound of its rattle. So it was time to go, and I packed up carefully! This was the first Rattler I have seen during my SOTA hikes and bike rides. I will now be more aware in the future!

Rattlesnake decided it was best to go under a bush; we both were wary of each other. This photo was taken through the telephoto, 10 feet away not up close!

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Peak 4054 W6 CT-156 to the north, not accessible

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Snow Benchmark W6 CT-121 to the east along the road another 4 miles

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Then a nice ride down, which took 45 minutes. Passed three cars/pickup trucks and half a dozen bicycles coming up during my ride down. Obviously some people have keys to open the gate so watch out for vehicles!

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Los Pinetos W6 CT-158 to the west

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I enjoyed today’s outing very much; a great bike ride with interesting space history, a rattler, and great ham radio!

73! Hal N6JZT

 

 

 

 

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Very nice and informative SOTA story. Thanks Hal.
    73

    WN6E

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