Granite Benchmark is one of the medium-size peaks near Bouquet Reservoir. It does not get activated very much, being rather far north of Los Angeles; for me a drive of about 100 miles. I would be the fifth SOTA activator of the mountain.
I drove via Little Tujunga and Sand Canyons. This road had been closed for about a year after the Sand Fire of 2016 and I wanted to check it out. Along the road is the turnoff to the unpaved Mendenhall Ridge Road leading to Iron Mountain, and the Santa Clara Divide Road leading to Magic Mountain. The latter had an “Area Closed” sign on it, the former did not have any closure signs on it, though as usual the gate was shut to prevent vehicles from going up.
Above Bouquet Reservoir, in the dark, I missed the turn off to forest road 6N04 (Leona Divide Road) from the main road. Hard to see it in the dark! Returned, then drove carefully up this dirt road about two and a half miles to the large parking area near the powerline road to the summit. My new Subaru Outback handled the road well, though luckily it was not deeply rutted
Beginning the hike up the powerline road. It follows a rolling ridge about a mile and a half to the summit. Elevation gain is about 400 feet. Took about 40 minutes to the top
Looking back to the forest road 6N04 and Bouquet Reservoir
The road ends about 100 yards from the true summit, so pushed through chaparral to get there from the last power pylon
The weather was mild, windless and sunny, perfect for SOTA. I had anticipated QRN from the power lines as reported by other activators. As it was, the noise was low on 20m, S2/3 on 30m, and S8 on 40m. Conditions were good, working DJ5AV on 20m, EA2LU called me but we were unable to complete a QSO.
Leona Valley and Portal Ridge to the north. Portal has been activated by Dan, NA6MG.
The powerline road along the rolling ridge
Granite 3 benchmark, placed in 1938. I also found Granite 1 benchmark, placed in 1932
Took half an hour to hike down. Here, nearing the 6N04 road that I drove up in the dark
The track up the hill is a motorcycle trail!
My 2017 Outback I bought with 7000 miles on it. Got it in January, this was my first drive with it on unpaved roads It did well and has good ground clearance.
Down the road
This is the start of the road 6N04, right at the Angeles National Forest sign. You can also park on the other side of the main road if you want to hike all the way.
So it was a good test of the new Subaru, a mild hike, and a good ham radio operation.
73! Hal N6JZT