New Adventures on Smith Mountain (W6 CT-120) 5111 ft, 16 September 2016

Last hiked Smith Mountain two years ago.

Set off up the freeways in the dark, I really hate driving on freeways…the 110 to the 91 to the 605 to the 210…that is how we talk in Los Angeles! Took about an hour and a quarter driving from Torrance to get up to the trail head on Highway 39 above Azusa. There was a full moon which was nice, and set off before sun rise at about 0540. Used the headlamp now and then, but by 0600 I did not need it anymore.

The trail to the saddle is 3 miles, and is well graded. It weaves around spurs, in and out of canyons and gets to feel kind of tedious.

Sun arriving on Smith Mountain


Total time to the top was 2 hours 15 minutes, 3.5 miles, 1800 ft elevation gain. On the way up, I was thinking about  W6 CT-127 which rises out of Bear Canyon, it looks like a big lump. So I thought I could call it “The Lump”. Then I remembered a baseball player from the 50s and 60s, with kind of an odd name that I had seen on his baseball card: Jerry Lumpe. So for now I will refer to it as Lumpe Peak!

Lumpe Peak (W6 CT-127), left of center. Virtually inaccessible due to steep terrain and thick chaparral.


Jerry Lumpe (Wikipedia, public domain)


While I was setting up for HF, the mast kept tilting over since the short scrub bushes at the top are not very good for support. So it took longer to set up then I wanted.

Dan NA6MG called on 2m, then talked with Charles KM6CEM followed by Jerry NG6R and Mike KX6A. A couple of stations on 40m (Tom W7RV is almost always very strong). Then 20m…I was flummoxed by one station whose call confused me, so I must have asked for three repeats…it was Bert F6HKA in France! I had thought he was KF6HA or something because his signal was so strong.That was some nice totally unexpected DX! And just before I was shutting down on 30m, KX0R called me summit-to-summit from Colorado. During our QSO, he told me N0TA was also on the summit, on 20m. I went there but he was too weak to work, QSB from So no copy to S1.


40m CW: W7RV N6PKT


10m CW: KX0R

Mt. Williamson in the distance


Headed down. It was quite hot now, particularly in the “reflector ovens” of the canyons. So on the graded trail I kept up a fast pace to make it down that part in an hour; I did not want to dawdle in the heat.

Looking back to Smith


And the path down


On my way down, I stood aside to let two teams of inmate firefighters pass. I greeted then “good morning!”.  Each team consisted of about 11 men in orange coveralls labeled “prisoner”, carrying hoes and chain saws. Each team was led by an LA County fire fighter. They were all young men. They were there to help clear brush along the trail today. Not much later I heard one of them get to work with a chain saw on the other side of the canyon.

Fire team across the canyon going up


Smith Mountain and LA County fire trucks


I decided to drive 8 miles up the road to the Crystal Lake Cafe for lunch. I had never been there before. I found that there is a very large USFS camp ground there. At the cafe I had a chili cheese dog and a Pepsi. It was pretty good. The cafe also has a small store selling stuff for camping, and the owner also has three or four cabins for rent. Seems like a nice place to return to some day.


Then a drive down the canyon, followed by nerve-wracking freeway driving back home.

73! Hal N6JZT


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