Sunday, July 22, 2018

Big Arm Point (W7M/LM-168) SOTA Activation


On Friday 16 March Kimber and I were making a trip to Missoula to pick up my daughter. I decided that it had been a while since I had the radio out and wanted to enjoy the good weather that we were having. I made a decision not to post an alert for this summit as I did not know if it would actually happen, depending on the road conditions.  I also  knew that I would have cell signal to self spot, I had been up on this summit 2 times prior. This summit is a drive up as there is TV and other misc. towers at the top and they keep it plowed most of the time. There is a Dozer at the bottom of the hill that I presume is there to keep the road open in the winter. Even though they keep this road plowed it can still be very bad at times and most of the winter would still probably require chains to get to the top. Mid winter I took the expedition up there with no chains and was in 4wd for the entire trip. There was a couple shady times that I would have preferred chains for traction. There are sections that warm up in the sun and create a sheet of ice that can cause you sliding towards the edge...which at time is very steep. In the summer about any car can make it to the top with some easy driving and maneuver around some larger rocks. I had my Subaru Impreza outback up there last summer. Today I was able to drive most of the way in 2 wheel drive but periodically put the Expedition in 4 wd in order to get a little more traction on the steep icy spots.

             






 





Cell Signal: 
I use Verizon and had great cell phone signal from the summit. 

Trail Conditions
This is a drive up and on a gravel road to the summit. I parked on the second to last switchback and walked the rest of the way to the summit. 

Fees:
This area requires a tribal use permit for non-tribal members. You can pick these up at the Walmart in Polson or at Ronan Sports and Western. 

APRS:
Did not use APRS today.

GPS Tracks:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2xiufzxtexvn5xr/Big%20arm%20point%20gpx%20file.gpx?dl=0

This link will take you too my driving tracks from where I parked to HWY 93. If there is an issue with the link let me know and I will try and figure it out. 


Driving Directions:
HWY 93 just north of Polson, MT will take you to where my GPS tracks start. Link above.

Summit information and resources used for planning

I use this free website to estimate distances of new trails.

Here is one of my secrets!!! Even if you don't do geocaching take a look at the map. If you manipulate it right up can see every summit out there. If there is a geocache at the top, there is a way to get there. Sometimes if you click on the cache it will even give detailed directions to get there and some good pictures.

Here is an example of some decent directions learned from a geocache. The information was out dated but much of the time it is not.

I link to this site from my blog and from my blog to this site. This site is great because it posts the necessary information straight to the Summit Page.

http://www.cqgma.net/mvs/index.php
Adventure Radio Map View - I like this map as a way to see the summits. It seems more user friendly with filters then the SOTA mapping software.

http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/interactive/html/map.html
NOHRSC Interactive Snow Information - This is a great tool to see where the snow levels are and what they have looked like in the past on certain dates.

http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/draw/
Put in a route in this site and it will give you a gps file for the information you provide. This works if you want to draw and upload a route into your GPS for use on the trail.



4590 (W7M/FN-235) SOTA Activation




My wife and I made the 5.8 mile R/T hike up to Point 4590. This is a great hike in the Kalispell area and gives way to great views as can be seen from below. There is also a trail that continues on down to the lake as seen from the map below.  The trail has been well maintained. We have been to the area now on two different occasions with not many people there. Today we ran into a group of two hikers and a mountain biker came to the top while we were up there. This is a fairly long hike for a 1 Point SOTA summit but if you are in it for more then SOTA it is a great choice. For those of you that do Geocaching there is also a geocache just off the trail and before the summit. The view from below in only about 30 ft off of the summit so is well within the activation area. The summit has a good amount of trees and there is not much of a view. This summit is probably not a good choice for those collecting points but it is a good hike with a great view...and worth the hike to be the first to activate.  













I tracked our hike with my Garmin on the way up. The GPX tracks can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ym8gatbu9kjgilm/Track_2018-07-21%20135244.gpx?dl=0
Forest Service Rd. 2924 Takes you to the Trailhead. You can drive most any vehicle to the TH during the summer months. There are a few rutted areas but I think that if you are careful that you can drive through them in any vehicle.

Driving GPS Tracks (Click Here)

I spent a good deal of time trying to Call and also tried 17m SSB, 20m CW, 40m SSB. With no luck. Not sure what was going on today.



Equipment:
Elecraft KX2 with KXPD2 and internal battery. MP1 Super Antenna, Kenwood TH-D72 for 2m and APRS.

Cell Signal(Verizon): 
I use had decent cell phone signal from the summit. I spotted a few times using SOTA Goat and was able to spot with out any issues. LTE/3G signal most of the time.

Trail Conditions
5.8 Miles on a well maintained single track trail. Shared with Horses, Bikers, and Hikers.

Fees:
None

APRS (Kenwood TH-D72):
I did my initial spot using APRS. I like to keep proficient in these uses. It was a good thing that I did it as it took some getting used to again. 

Driving Directions:
From Kalispell, Farm to Market Road, Tally lake Road, FR2924

Band Conditions:
I was not able to work near as many stations as I am used to. Band conditions were not that great but I was able to get a few contacts. Two of my normal contacts N4EX and W0MNA were not able to make the contact. I could here them fine but was not able to complete the contact on my end.

Summit information and resources used for planning

I use this app to estimate distances of new trails.

Here is one of my secrets!!! Even if you don't do geocaching take a look at the map. If you manipulate it right up can see every summit out there. If there is a geocache at the top, there is a way to get there. Sometimes if you click on the cache it will even give detailed directions to get there and some good pictures.

Here is an example of some decent directions learned from a geocache. The information was out dated but much of the time it is not.

http://www.cqgma.net/mvs/index.php
Adventure Radio Map View - I like this map as a way to see the summits. It seems more user friendly with filters then the SOTA mapping software.

http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/interactive/html/map.html
NOHRSC Interactive Snow Information - This is a great tool to see where the snow levels are and what they have looked like in the past on certain dates.

http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/draw/
Put in a route in this site and it will give you a gps file for the information you provide. This works if you want to draw and upload a route into your GPS for use on the trail.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"Frequency Mountain" W7W/SO-094 SOTA

On Sunday, 11 September Delma, Brookelyn, Makaila, Kimber and I went out for a hike. During the hike we did a little geocaching and also made a quick attempt at a local SOTA summit. The total hike was 7.86 miles but this included many quick stops and wanderings to find geocaches. As the trip shows below we started at 12: 54 in the afternoon and were walking for just over 5 hours. Walking with a 3 year old can be slow. There were many short stops along the way to look for caches, drink water, or just explore something in the woods. We all had a great time.


A long hike for the group but everyone seemed to have a great time. 


We have Geocached a lot in this area but this is the first time that we have made it all the way to the top. If you are into geocaching on fairly easy hikes then this is a great one.  As you can see there are many more reasons for us to get up in these woods again. We are thinking about pre positioning a vehicle on the other side and hiking all the way over the top. There is plenty of room for Caches on the other side. The kids had a blast!


A screen shot for the easy SOTA summit. I only managed one contact but we also only stayed on the summit for about 10 minutes. This is a great local summit and a fun place to get out and walk the dogs. We will definitely be back to this one for a full SOTA activation.


Thanks Eric for answering my CQ call.



It is all forest road on the way up. There is a gate at the bottom so you would need a key to get through. All this is Stimson Lumber land and apparently you can get a permit to drive on the roads because I periodically see vehicles on the roads. On this trip we did run into one care. On the right is one of the Geocaches that we found. 


In the picture it shows me with the rubber duck but I actually did put on the telescoping whip and gave it a couple calls with the Kenwood TH-d72a.


 Brookelyn and Colten checking out the loot in one of the Caches.


The kids made a killing today trading a bunch of stuff for some new cool toys. We will have to bring up some more cool stuff to trade up here the next time!




 One of them was up in a tree and required a little help, hid nearby, to get the cache down to hand level. 







We found a number of aliens in the woods today. Seemed to be an invasion of some kind!


On the way down, Delma got a head of the kids and I and had time to take a couple selphies. This is the longest hike we have done in a while and we will do it again soon to get a full activation.



Sunday, August 14, 2016

Mount Fremont (W7W/RS-005) SOTA Activation



On 13 August 2016 the family (Delma, Peyton, Brookelyn, Mikailla, Colten, and Kimber) and I headed out to Mount Rainier National Park with the intent of heading to Fremont Lookout. In this case the lookout is not actually located within the activation area of the summit. Another example of this is Jumpoff Mountain (W7W/MC-047) which also has the activation area a short distance from the lookout. We had originally planned to be out of the house early, but that did not happen. Kimber once again had a rough night sleeping and we all slept in until about 9ish. This meant that we were not getting out of the house until around 1030. With a stop by the store for some food and snacks for the road. Needless to say we were not actually on the road
until about 1130, which put us a Sunrise at about 1400. Anyone that has ever hiked with 5 kids knows that there is no way that we were going to make it to Fremont by my scheduled time of 1600, besides that we were going to walk right by the summit in route to the lookout and then return for the hike up to the true summit. My first contact on the summit was near 0100z time.

When we arrived at the summit I was relieved to find that there was plenty of room for the kids to do kid stuff without dad having to worry to much about them falling off of a cliff. There are still plenty of places for them to fall but there is also plenty of room for them to roam and bang rocks together making big rocks into small rocks! This seemed to be the fun of the day. Petyon went looking for a benchmark on the summit but was not able to find one. Delma started working the 2m call frequency and soon racked up 9 contacts in a relatively short time. I was setting up HF while trying to help Del log contacts on my phone. HF was fairly slow but I was still able to get some of my favorite chasers and a few new ones. I was a little worried that I would get a pretty good pileup if somehow the world found out that I was in a National Park. I really did not have the time to stick around to long so I am glad that did not happen. I worked 7 different chasers and then went down to 40 to try and work Phil in Oregon. We bounced around on frequencies and modes quiet a bit but I was never able to make the contact. I could hear Phil on 40m SSB but he was not able to pull my QRP signal out I do not believe. After trying to work Phil for a little bit the sun was starting to drop and it was starting to get a little chilly. Time to start heading back to the trailhead. We made it off the summit easily and gained the trail making the quick trip back to the car.

caltopo.com - 2.25 mile hike with 1,306 ft of elevation gain.

One note for this activation. The highpoint is neither at the lookout nor the named peak. Make sure that you are heading to the right spot or you will not be in the activation area.

This Graph was also designed and downloaded on caltopo.com I thought it was a pretty cool feature.

http://aprs.fi/#!mt=roadmap&z=11&call=a%2FKF7PXT&timerange=86400&tail=86400
One note...I noticed by looking at my APRS feed that my GPS signal was all over the place...many of my packets were no where near where I was or had been. If I had been all the places APRS said we were I think that we would still be out looking for the parking lot. I think that this is due to my GPS going into standby mode and then when the packet is sent it does not have enough time to get an accurate location. I will have to check on this for more accurate reporting.

****UPDATE: The position ambiguity setting is very important if you want people to know exactly where you are at. Put the setting to off....unless you don't want some serial killer to know where you are, or you are running from the law then it is best to put it at 4...or just turn off your APRS :)

APRS was working well from the van though. http://aprs.fi/#!mt=terrain&z=10&call=a%2FKF7PXT-5&timerange=86400&tail=86400



Other Small details

Today I used the FT817nd, MP1 SuperAntenna, and my Iphone for logging. Maybe not my lightest setup but it works great in almost every set of conditions. SuperAntenna seems to do well also...plus I don't need a tuner.

Weather was amazing. 75 degrees when we left the van and a great view of Mount Rainier the whole day. We even got a little breeze for most of the trip that kept everything tolerable.

Plenty of Mountain goats around, approximately 40 spotted the whole day, a few elk at the parking lot, and a few chipmunks on the trail.

Download GPS files here: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3473025 or here https://www.dropbox.com/s/6fhzywkrh35qo87/Mount%20Fremont.gpx?dl=0














Advertisement for SuperAntenna?


Kimber (3) was a little tired by the end of the day. Her legs seem to be bothering her and she was fighting a bit of a cold. She rode the dad limo for a good portion.

Thanks everyone for reading my blog and chasing Delma and I while we are on the summit. We had a great day!