Moonlight Madness to Fox Benchmark (W6 CT-254) 5033 ft, 15 April 2017

Fox Benchmark (aka Fox Mountain) is one of the new mountains added to W6 SOTA in 2016. I had not been up it, though I passed by it on the way to Condor Peak in 2014.

https://halssota.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/the-one-day-of-the-condor-condor-peak-5440-ft-w6-ct-027-11-november-2014/

I wanted to get an early start and hike the first part by moonlight to avoid the heat on the way down. So I planned for 15 April: a waning gibbous moon would reach its highest point in the sky to the south at 0403 to provide good light.

I left the house at 0230. Reached the unmarked trail head at mile marker 4.50 in Big Tujunga Canyon and had coffee from the thermos flask, then set off at 0415. Crossed the road, turned on my head lamp, into the gully about 15 feet and then right onto the use trail through the brush. I had checked out the first part of the trail about two months ago to make sure it had not been damaged by the rains.  After 15 minutes a sharp left onto the main trail. Hiked by the bright moon light, and when in a moon shadow I would turn on my head lamp. Very enjoyable walk along the graded trail, temperature was 43F/9C which was ideal. As before on the Condor hike, took care on sections which were above steep drop offs. After an hour and twenty minutes or so the sky provided enough light. Crossed two little streams in Fusier Canyon, noticed a little poison oak, hope I avoided it.

Moon over Mt Lukens W6 CT-030.

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Well up the mountain before the 0622 sunrise.

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The trail briefly exits Fusier Canyon and overlooks White Oak Canyon and Big Tujunga Reservoir, then crosses back to Fusier higher up. And then managed to not miss the switchbacks like I did last time!

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Fox Mountain

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Reached my “3 hour point” before the start of the traverse around the south face of Fox. Had some water and a bite to eat. Then after this the trail ascends gently on its traverse.

View of Condor Peak as we come around the corner

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View up the west ridge of Fox. It is steep in places and the dirt is slippery, but it only takes 15 minutes.

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View of Condor Peak (W6 CT-027) and Iron Mountain (W6 CT-024) from the summit of Fox

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Set up the station for 2m FM and HF.

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Did not spend as much time as usual on HF; there were a lot of bugs flying around and even a tick which grossed me out! Time to hike with insect repellent.

Called on the Hughes Aircraft repeater, Brian AB6UI came back, he then pointed his 2m beam at me for a simplex contact and he spotted me on the SOTA page. Charles KM6CEM called me but he could not hear my reply.

2m FM: AB6UI N6EQ KD6CQS KX6A WA9STI

20m CW: N1GB W4HBK W5ODS VA6FUN K4MF NG0E N4DA

30m CW: WA7SB KG7VAK NU7A KH7AL

The subsidiary summit to the east

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The Benchmark. I saw in the register that some hikers the day before had hiked Fox, Condor and Iron, a long day

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A final 2m QSO with Scott WA9STI then I headed down. The descent from Fox to the saddle took only 5 minutes. Then the hiking is pretty quick because the trail is mostly nice gravel and well graded. Reminded me of a long version of the hike down Mt Lawlor or Strawberry Peak.

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In Fusier Canyon

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Then back down Vogel Canyon

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Last view of Fox, which is the peak peaking out just left of center at the back, not the one to the left

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Got back to the Jeep at 1230. Temperature was now 75F/23C

Stats: 6 miles (10km) each way, elevation gain 3000ft (900m). 4 hours up, 2 h 45 m down. Took six pints of water and drank four. Quite a strenuous hike, enough for me at my age!

73! Hal N6JZT

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