Thursday, December 25, 2014

W7W/SO-081 SOTA Activation and other Capital State Forest SOTA information and other useful SOTA information / links

Here is a selfie of us both on the TTR50.  Colten is driving
for me!
I have been planning to activate W7W/SO-081 for some time. I have conducted a recon of the trailhead and been by it many times. I decided since Christmas eve this year was supposed to be nice and I was  supposed to be off early from work that I would take my son Colten up there and try to attack this one. Capital forest is a place that I have been going for years and there are plenty of roads and trails to ride motorcycles, horses, mountain bikes or whatever you may want to do up there. They have the trails well seperated for horses and motorized vehicles. This would be a great opportunity to let Colten ride his motorcycle and me to knock out a SOTA summit. I knew that this was going to be a long trip in at about 4.7 miles one way. My original plan was to ride my bike and let my son follow behing but I knew that I was not going to have enough daylight for that. We put a gallon of gas in the motorcycle and headed off to the TH (about 10 miles from the house). Colten did very well with the motorcycle but we were both riding on the Yamaha TTR50 to make up a little time that I had lost when I got off work later then expected. The TTR50 pulls us both up the hill pretty well but I was worried about the small gas tank and the added weight. I wish that I could have got a picture of us both on this little motorcycle, with training wheels! It would have been a site to see. Colten and I took turns driving up the hill and I was able to teach him some things about using the brakes etc. I dressed Colten pretty warm but I was starting to notice the chill coming on as we were moving up into the fog and clouds. The summit was close to 32 degrees. I quickly set up my roll up J-pole antenna and tried to give Doug, KY7S, a call on 146.52 as I knew that he would be waiting for me. With no response I sent him a text and told him that I was monitoring. Soon after I heard him across the radio. I tried to respond 2 or 3 times with no luck. I was now wishing that I had brought my arrow antenna...it is in the bag now Doug! I quickly deployed the random wire and counter poise into the KX1 and start out on 20m. I am able to get a spot out using SOTA Goat and quickly hear W7RV calling me. This is followed by a few more calls among them being my most loyal chasers W0MNA and ERI. Thanks Marth and Gary. I know that AE9F and NU6T were also in there. Thanks Dan and Rich from CA! I then quickly switched to 40 because the pileup was small and the weather was cold! I had no contacts on 40 and for some reason my spot did not go through to alert chasers. Sorry about the fast activation. This is pretty normal for me with the kids, work, late days, cold / wet weather etc. I hope to one day be retired, in fair weather, and missing the kids sitting on a summit! There are many more Southern Olympic 1, 2, and 4 pointers that are likely to be activated this winter.

Yes I am disappointed with myself for not staying another 5 minutes and giving all the chasers double points! I thought I had one more hour and was not until I was working on this that I realized that I was only a couple more minutes. Sorry! I will pay better attention next time!


Here is some information on the summits that I have activated in Capital State Forest over the last few months, all but one of these (Larch Mountain) were previously unactivated:

The red is where I have walked / biked / or used a motorcycle. Yellow is drivable in about any vehicle with a little bit of clearance. As long as you have not destroyed your vehicle and made it completely unusable by lowering it you should be fine. Minus 081 all these are easily approachable and you could probably knock out 067. 073, 078, 114, and 106 in a day and come away with 8 points. 081 you will have to add about 9.5 miles to your day as it is a long hike in along a gravel road. Get lucky and the gates could be open!
This one is very near my house with some nice trails / roads to get out on. Not a Scenic summit with no view from the summit. Nice cleared out area to activate. There is a lot of off road vehicle sign back here and nothing to say that you could not ride a ATV back here.
Here is my information from W7W/SO-103. Probably easiest to come in from the West off of the highway. Road was quite muddy the days I was up there from all the logging traffic. 


Rig Setup - Elecraft KX1with KXB3080 30/80 meter module, and KXAT1 Internal tuner, 41' Random Wire sloping to 16' fishing pole with 16' counter poise, 6x AA batteries in KX1 (1 watt), KXPD1 Plug in keyer paddle for KX1. I also had with me 2x 9 volt batteries for backup. I have found that these will put out about 1.5 watts if I use them. I like the simplicity of using the AA batteries in the radio! Oh and a TTR50 Yamaha motorcycle which helped me to the summit...but now the final approach:) I think that it is about time that I get a 4-wheeler. Sure do like the looks of those Yamaha Grizzlies!

GPS Tracks (Everytrail) Not actual trip this time but a accurate depiction of the route taken: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3060175


Here are some links / tools that I use to help me out with my activations. I know that I post these often but I continue to add to the list:

http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/draw/ - This is a link that you can draw a track on a map and then download the gpx file to use in your gps. This will also give you distance for factoring into your activation

http://www.qwj.de/ - I am sure that others use the Adventure MapView for other Radio related but I like the additional map types that this has over the NA SOTA mapping.

http://www.runningmap.com/beta/ - Here is another option for checking distance.

NOHRSC Interactive Snow Map - Here in the northwest it is nice to know what the snow levels are looking like. I like to use this when heading to the higher summits.

http://www.nwhiker.com/HikeEval.html - Most of us are pretty good at guaging how tough a hike is going to be but this is a neat little tool to evaluate distance and elevation gain and give you an idea for how steep it will be.

http://www.geocaching.com/ - I have said this before but I like to use these maps. Try going to Play --> View Geocache maps. Use the default Mapquest OSM map and you can see the summits on there. If you see a named summit with a geocache on the top of it check it out in the SOTA database. If there is a geocache on the top then there probably is a way to the summit. Check the cache page as sometimes it gives you directions.

Google Earth - I recently have started to use this and like to draw routes and check out elevation profiles etc. The manipulation of maps with google earth is pretty cool. I am just starting to learn google earth and I know that I have a lot to learn.

http://www.sotamaps.org/ - Of course you can forget about SOTA maps. I like the filters the best on here. Also if you are spending the day chasing, which I don't do much of anymore, you can see the summits that are spotting recently.

http://www.everytrail.com/ - I used to like this more when the app worked on my iphone. It would update my whole trip onto the computer and have a cool layout to see pictures elevation etc. This all went away with an update but the website still works. This is a good place where I can upload my gps tracks for all to download though.

http://peakbagger.com/Default.aspx - Great website but usually only has the more popular bagger peaks and some of these are very difficult climbs...but others are very easy. Downloadable gps tracks from many users also. I look here to see if descriptions / tracks are available.

http://www.wta.org/ - A great site for hikes in Washington state! I like to read the most recent trip reports here and see if it is something that may interest me. Get good local and recent information on trails.

http://www.heywhatsthat.com/profiler.html - Interested in a line of site for possible VHF S2S. Check here and see what it says!

http://www.pnwsota.org/ - If you do a PNW... or in the area SOTA upload a blog here and it will automatically populate to the SOTA summit page! or look here for some information on what has been done in the area recently.

Ok I am sure that I am missing some things but hopefully this list will help someone out with something that they were looking for...

I have a question for those that make it this far in the blog; How can I upload my GPS tracks to the SOTA mapping page. I see that it is possible but it just wont work for me.

If you find this information informative please leave me a message. I like to hear who is looking at my blogs...if you are going to be in my neck of the woods shoot me an email and let me know. I may join you or try to have the HT ready for a contact. Thanks again for reading.

Thanks Chasers!




Friday, December 19, 2014

Copper Mountain (W7W/SO-009) Attempted SOTA

On Saturday 13 December I headed out to try my hand at a six point unactivated summit in the southern Olympic range. I was excited to try and bag this summit after 1 DEC and get the 3 point bonus. My plan was to head out of the house at about 0600 but my weekends are important in that I try to catch up on sleep which I have missed out on during the week. So 0830 it was up and out the door. I was at the trail head at 0930 and hiking at 0945. The trail is clearly marked that it is very steep; 4400 feet in 2.8 miles if I remember correctly. It is every bit of it also! The trail is easy to follow and I made my way up to the saddle heading towards Wagonwheel lake and then caught the main spur to the summit. I was monitoring 146.52 the whole way in hopes that I would here Doug KY7S or Mark K7NEW on one of their activations. If the trail was steep, the ridge was even steeper. I continued to put one foot in front of the other but there came a time that I realized that I was just not going to make it. I sat down and enjoyed the view, tried a couple calls on the HT, and ate some lunch. I made a couple of calls for Doug KY7S to see if I could reach him, with no luck I started my trip back down the hill. I took out my phone and took a picture of the scree slope (below). Then my phone shut down on me... so there would be no more pictures. For some reason my phone has been shutting down on me with over 50% lately. Seems to happen more when it is cold outside. Probably one of the new iphone updates! I made my way back down the mountain.

It seems these days the way down is harder then the way up. Up may take energy but down is hard on the knees and back. I will be back to try this one again when the days are longer and I will start a little bit earlier. I am like a diesel engine, I can move all day just not fast. Slow and steady the whole way. Thanks for reading.



Some usefull links to use if trying this summit:

Every Trail GPS Tracks - http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3056225

http://www.summitpost.org/copper-mountain/769748

http://www.peakbagger.com/peak.aspx?pid=1047


Useful Summit Information:

I had verizon cell signal at the end of my track, I can only assume that I would have usable signal at the summit.

GPS Tracks can be downloaded at
http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3056225

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Larch MTN (W7W/SO-067) & ""Tuner Hill" (W7W/SO-114) SOTA

Working 20m with the Elecraft KX1, external
12v battery, KX1 Keyer, and 41 ft. Longwire
Antenna. 
 Wooded Summit, Rainy, Cloudy, Windy, but a fun time. Brookelyn, Makaila, Colten, and Charlie joined me for a trip into Capital forest today for some hiking and SOTA. The trip was really just to get the kids out of the house so that mom could have some peace and quite. The kids each packed up a bag of toys, for playing or geocache trading, and mom made us sandwiches. We headed out of the house about 1200 hrs. local as the sky was starting to clear. The kids and I are fair weather SOTA activators, hikers, geocachers. The rain is just to much to haul the young kids out in and expect them to have a good time. We headed out of the house to recon W7W/SO-114 ""Tuner Hill"". I found a geocache (Muddy Outlook, GCHJTP)  that was in the area and used this as an approach. The geocache stated that you could drive all the way up now that they opened the road. This is not the case, the road is closed at 47.037316,   -123.018036. As I believe that you could park here and walk up no problem you definitely cannot drive over the pile of boulders blocking the road. There is a slew of "No Trespassing" signs on all the residences in the area but the road is public property. From here to the summit would be 2 mi. I decided to head on and look for other approaches to other summits. I moved on to check on W7W/SO-078 ""Message Peak"".
Hiking route to Larch MTN
The gate for this summit was locked at 46.953075, -123.075628. There was a bunch of vehicles parked here so I am assuming that this is a pretty heavily hunted area. The hike from here would have been about 4.62 miles according to runningmap.com, so we moved on. I took a quick look at my map and noticed that there was an approach to Larch Mountain from where we were. I had conducted a recon of Larch earlier in the year and knew where the gate was locked and also knew that it was a short hike, that would be easy with the kids up to the summit. The skys were clear so we headed up. The summit was covered in clouds and you could not see the towers at the top; don't head to the towers, this is not the high point. The activation went well with 20 contacts on 20 meters in 25 minutes. After I had worked all the chasers on 20 I switched to 40. I quickly spotted and called CQ for about 5 min. with no takers. I was really waiting on Phil, NS7P, but the rain started to come in and I had to pack up and head down the mountain. The kids were getting cold and it was time to move.



""Tuner Hill"" W7W/SO-114



On the way down I noticed a possible approach from the West to ""Tuner Hill"". I headed up there and found out that this summit is an easy drive up. I made a short approach just as it was starting to get dark and through out the Random wire in a tree. I worked 20m with 10 contacts, switched to 40 getting no chasers. During the 1 minutes I was on the air the kids played hide and seek. Sorry that this was a short one but the sun was down and the kids were hungry. I had to get this unactivated peak activated.


Reverse Beacon Spots

Approx. 45 miles of driving to check out the summits.

Thanks Chasers!!!


Summit information and resources used for planning

I use this app to estimate distances of new trails.

Tracks for my hike to Larch Mountain.

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 very necessary information straight to the Summit Page.

http://www.pnwsota.org/blog/kf7pxt/2014-november-22/larch-mountain-activation
http://www.pnwsota.org/blog/kf7pxt/2014-november-22/tuner-hill-activation

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ladd Mtn (W7W/PL-083) & ""Bug Hill"" (W7W/SO-106) SOTA & Other Recons

On Monday and Tuesday Nov. 10 & 11 I took full advantage of my days off for Veteran's day and headed out for a couple SOTA summits.

On the 10th I decided to do an easy 1 pointer near my house that had yet to be activated. ""Bug Hill"" was an easy hike and Colten enjoyed the time out with dad. Not much of a view but it just kills me to have a hill so close that has never been activated. There are a couple more of these nearby that will be done in the near future. This was an easy walk up / Drive if you are luck and the gate is open, summit. No view but an easy point.

Activation Details: Easy Hike up summit from right off of HWY; Verizon cell signal for spotting; No Views; KX1 (2.5 Watts) with 1600 mAh Li-Po Battery; 29ft Sloper Wire;

EveryTrail and GPX data: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3033743








On the night of the 10th Peyton and I decided to head up to the hills, camp out, and do a SOTA on the morning of Veteran's day. After a quick look on the map and trying to keep the miles traveled to a minimum we decided that we would try W7W/PL-083 & PL090. I packed our bags, posted a quick alert and then hit the road. We arrived in the vacinity of the summits at about midnight. We found a place to pull over and headed to bed. In the morning we got up and made some breakfast and headed in the direction of the summit. We decided to do Ladd MTN (083) first. This looked like the easier of the two and I wanted to avoid being to far away from the truck at 25 degrees and a good wind. Ladd MTN has a road going all the way to the summit except for the last 100 yards. The road is well within the activation area but I have to see the true summit. Once on the summit I decided to use my MP1 Superantenna but was not very successful with this, the random wire works better I think. I threw the wire (29ft) up in a tree to the West and ran the counterpoise to the East. Signals were booming in and made for one heck of a pile up.

Three Summit to Summit Contacts. Thanks Dan, Mike, and Harold.
Activation Details: Cell signal with Verizon able to spot with SOTA goat; Temperature about 25 degrees with about a 10mph wind; Wooded summit with a slight view of Mount Rainier from the summit but nothing to write home about; Easy access probably even with a limited clearance vehicle; KX1 (2.5 Watts) with 29ft. Sloper Wire; 

Every Trail and GPX data Trip Link: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3033719

After Ladd MTN we headed down to check out Stahl MTN. It looks like there would be no trail heading to the top and most of the trip would be a fairly steep assent through old growth forest. I will let you know for sure here soon. Peyton said that his legs were tired so we decided to call it a day. On the way back down the hill I did some recon of some other roads and identified gates etc. There are plenty of summits to be done in this area and I hope to get a few of them done before the snow sets in.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tongue Mountain (W7W/PL-057) SOTA

A look at the summit on the way up. It looks a little intimidating from this
angle. It seems that all the mountains around here end with a steep rock at the
top! Sunrise Peak was the same way which is only a few miles away.
I continued with SOTA this weekend when Delma and I headed out to the hills. We headed out on a Saturday night after we put the kids to bed with plans of camping with a little hike on Sunday morning. The weather was great. We got to camp between two summit Trailheads Tongue Mountain (W7W/PL-057) and Juniper Peak (W7W/LC-014). My original plan was to wake up and do Juniper but my back was pretty sore so I took the easier Tongue Mountain at 1.7 miles instead of 2.9 miles. Del decided that she liked her sleeping bag and wanted to enjoy a couple of more hours of sleep without kids jumping on her bed! I headed up to the summit on a great day. I move slowly to keep the pain under control. As they say slow is smooth, smooth is fast. This is an
easy trail up and then a narrow last 1/2 mile to the top. I took my KX3 up and decided to do SSB only on this one. It was great to hear all the chasers again as this was my first SSB activation for about a year. I am sure that my low chaser #s can be contributed to my 5w on AA batteries with a 41' inverted V on the summit. I was also battleing with the CA CQP going on. Thanks to all the chasers that were able to pull me through the noise.
 Directions:
- From Randle, WA on Highway 12 drive 1 mile south on forest rd 25.
-At the first road junction take the slight left (east) onto FR23
-Drive approximately 9 miles and turn right onto FR28. (main intersection)
- Continue approx. 1 mile and turn left on FR29.
- In approx. 4 miles turn left on FR 2904
- In approx. 4 miles you will see the marked TH on the right side of the road. There is a large parking area there with camping available. Plenty of room to turn a trailer around and facilities for unloading a stock trailer. motorcycles allowed on trails.
Mount Rainier
Misc: There was no cell signal, with verizon, for the majority of the trip. I was able to get enough signal to get a spot out at the top of the summit. I would be prepared with other means of spotting though. Additionally these trails are shared with horses, motorcycles, bikers, and hikers. I ran into no other users while I was up there though.
The scramble to the top. The scramble is a tough one.
I had to leave my dog at the bottom chained up in the
shade as I was to nervous to bring her up with me.
Grizzy was happy to take a nap after the trip.

Looking down into the valley
My log.

Thanks to all the chasers. I look forward to seeing you on the next one. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sunrise Peak (W7W/LC-003) SOTA

The Summit on the Left is Rainier and the Center is Mount Adams. This panoramic shot did not quite get in Saint Helens which would have been just off the right side of the Picture. You can see Peanut hanging out down below
Hello everyone. I finally broke my SOTA non activation streak and got out in the hills with Steve (WG0AT) and Peanut. We had a great 1.9 mile hike to the top on Sunrise Peak. I tracked the trip on my Iphone but am having trouble getting it to upload to everytrail. Peanut and Steve were very gratious on waiting for me on the trial. This was exactly 29 days post my second back surgery so I was moving very slow. The truth be told I probably will not move to fast, or at least as fast as I once did, anymore. It was a great sunny day with no wind on the summit. Temperature was about 65-70 degrees. Lots of Huckleberrys were ripe!









Directions:

- Form Highway 12 n Randle head south for 1 mile.

-Turn Left at the sign for Cispus center and drive 19 miles.

- Veer right on Road 2324 and follow signs to Trailhead.

Cell Signal: Steve had AT&T (I think) and I had verizon. There was definitely no 3G service at the summit but for some reason I was still able to pull up SOTAGoat and get the spots. I was able to get out spots on SMS.
A great view of Adams from the summit

Peanut Hanging out on the ledge


Mount Saint Helens

Mount Adams

Mount Rainier

Peanut making his way up to the summit

Peanut found a good place to rest.

Steve working SSB 5watts.

Peanut with Mount Rainier in the background

Steve (WG0AT) and Peanut starting the hike back down, Saint Helens in the background
Thanks to all the Chasers!!!!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stuart Peak (W7M/LM-056) SOTA / Backpacking trip




On the 1st of July, Delma, Charlie and I headed out to conduct a SOTA activation of Stuart peak. This was more then just a SOTA activation as we were going to backpack in with our dog Charlie into the Rattlesnake Recreation Area and wilderness north of Missoula, MT. We had my mom drop us off at the Ravine Trailhead which is about 5 miles from I90 intersection up Grant Creek Road. We unloaded our stuff and headed up letting mom know that we would contact her in a few days for pick up, most likely at the rattlesnake main trailhead which is in the next drainage to the East. We hiked up the ravine trail and passed SOTA W7M/LM-147. I originally had a plan to activate this on the way in but decided against it so that we could continue to make time towards our camp for the night. We passed a few other hikers and bikers along the trail and Charlie was enjoying his time running around
in the woods. These trails are dog friendly for the most part but check the changing regulations before heading up. After cresting the ridge the trail dropped steaply down into the Rattlesnake drainage area and then headed back up to the North towards Stewart Peak. After a couple of miles we were able to cross a small stream and fill up our water bottles using a filtration system for the rest of the trip. This was the last water until getting to the summit. By this time we had hiked approximately 8 miles and we were looking forward to finding a place to sleep for the night. After walking up the trail for about 1/8 mile there was a perfect camp site complete with leveled out sleeping area, small fire pit, and a great tree to hang the solar panel on for recharging. We decided that this would be our camp for the next two nights and provide us a good base camp to make the 4 mile hike to the summit and back the next morning. We could
also stash some of our gear in the woods and not have to make the trip with such heavy packs. We slept here for the night and then woke at 0530 for a 0600 step off to try and avoid the heat. The temperature was supposed to be close to 90 on the 2nd and 95 on the 3rd of July. We kept it simple with a old military poncho and our hiking poles for our shelter.   Pretty nice considering water was so close also. The next morning we woke up as planned to a nice sized mule deer doe standing just up hill from our camp. We ate or Mountain Meal breakfast using our Jetboil to heat up the water. After Breakfast we stepped off in the cool mountain air, about 45 degrees. This was very
refreshing for the steady uphill climb that we had up to the summit. At the wilderness boundary we hit our first sign of snow. After the crest over the ridge the snow started to show up more consistently. At about 1.5 miles before the summit snow was a very common site and was starting to slow us down considerably. As we approached the saddle to head up the last .5 mile to the summit the wind started to blow over the ridge. It was a very refreshing breaze to keep us cool as we started to make the climb along the snowy ridge to the summit. We slowly made our way up the ridge and then made the summit about 1 hour after planned. For the next few hours Delma and I enjoyed the views and operated SOTA at  intervals rotating between napping, climbing trees, taking pictures, napping, enjoying the view and oh did I mention napping? The napping could have resulted in us both getting a little bit of a sun burn. The weather was amazing! I also had a great opportunity to meet, on the air, KG7KGL, Doug, from Montana. By some stroke of luck Doug was activating two Ravali county summits and using his 2m rig. Both Delma and I were able to work Doug on both of his summits. His first contact on SOTA was a S2S! He is very motivated to continue on and is planning on a summit every Tuesday. At this time Doug is only using VHF but has interest in moving up to HF one of these days. There were plenty of very friendly VHF operators on 146.52 to help him get his first two activations in the book. 

 
After all of our activities at the summit we started to make our way down the summit but decide to head down the Southwest side of the summit and try to avoid most of the snow. The forest is very open with hardly any undergrowth making it easy to move cross country. We intersected our previous trail avioding most of the snow with no issue. On the way off the summit we moved pretty quickly and

decided to grab a geocache that was hidden right at the wilderness boundary. This geocache does not get much activity as it is way off the nearest road. According to the log it had only been found about 5 times prior to our find and had not been found since 6/27/12...a good find. Somehow we forgot to get the one that was on the peak. I guess we will just have to go back!




We made the trip back down to camp easily. We sat at camp and talked about all that had happen and then started talking about our options and the idea came up to return to town. Afterall a big cheeseburger did sound really good! I checked out the map and figured that we were about 6 miles from the nearest trailhead where we could be picked up. We discussed it for a little and decided that we would rest for about the next hour and then head down. This ended up being the longest 6 miles of our trip and we both wished that we would have waited until the next day to make the movement. We did not get to the trailhead until about 2300 at night and were both very tired. We took it easy on the 3rd and then on the morning of the 4th I made a quick trip up to activated the missed summit. 

Here are some links to additional information:





My Wife Delma and the best trail dog ever, Charlie!

I want to thank everyone who makes this hobby so much fun. I am not sure that without SOTA that I would be so much into amateur radio. Without the chasers who consistently watch APRS to see when we are about to make the summit (Thanks Elliot!) and to those who patiently wait for us to get our antennas set up. Also those who are right there waiting for a quick activation when the weather is not so great. I look forward to many more years of this great hobby!