Saturday, January 18, 2014

Richard East Benchmark (W6/NC-407) Vollmer Peak (W6/NC-298) SOTA Activation

On 17 January I took our youngest son Colten out on a pair of SOTA activations with me. I found 2 easy summits that I had not yet activated. I woke Colten up at about 0545 in the morning and we were out of the house for our hour trip north to Marin county by about 0615. I decided to head out early to avoid all the Friday commute traffic. If we would have waited another hour it would have taken us 2 hours. A great trip out with my 4 year old son. He did great and would always find things to do, usually piling rocks to make "castles" or seeing how far he can throw rocks off the summit. *No hikers were injured or killed from rocks.

                       Vollmer Peak                                                     Richardson East BM

For Richardson East - After you get off on Spencer Ave go straight until you come to the underpass on your left. Take a left and go through the underpass. There is a park and ride parking lot on your right and curbside parking for 5 or 6 cars on the left.

Cell Signal: 
Richardson East BM - Yes (Verizon). Digital Signal Questionable but with patience will be possible to self spot. I was able to make phone calls and send text but SOTA goat was in and out. 

Vollmer Peak - No issues, full signal.

Radio working conditions: 
Richardson East BM - No issues
Vollmer Peak - Very Noisy be prepared to dig down in the noise. Bring VHF just in case.

Trail Condition: 
Well Maintained Easy to follow fire road and trail.

Breezy but sunny and clear on Richardson east. 65 degrees and sunny slight breeze on Vollmer Peak.

No fees at either area.

Lessons Learned: 
Always bring a multi-tool for trail fixes (see setup notes below). 

EveryTrail Route: *Note - I am going to work on editing the names of my everytrail routes to include "SOTA" with the  name and Ref # of the summit for easier searching. So if you are interested in any of the summits that I do you should be able to search for the Summit Name, Reference Number, or just "SOTA" and you will find somthing. Trying to make it easier for other activators.

Richardson East BM -

Vollmer Peak -

On this trip I did a loop. I started up the trail on the end of the parking lot and then I can down the access road. Different things to see from both routes.

PFR3 with internal AA batteries -
MP1 Superantenna - 
AME Porta Paddle II -

Here is a photo of my Porta Paddle attached to a clipboard. This had been working for me until this activation. If any chasers saw my first alert quickly followed by a technical problems alert you now know that the cable ground to the connector came disconnected. I was lucky enough to be able to call my friend who was on his way up to bring a screwdriver and Gerber, which I forgot. It is a good thing that he slept in and was not at the trail head at our original link up time! As you can see I drilled two holes in the top of the clipboard for strain relief! Oh...and my cheat sheets for CW when I get really brain fried!

Contacts: 20 Total CW contacts.
Richardson East BM

Vollmer Peak

Colten on the way up Richardson East BM.

Surise Picture on the way up.

Here are two pictures. That Island with the peak is W6/CC-075 Mt. Livermore

Getting Closer to the top.

You can see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge on this one.

Some Pictures from up on the Summit. We dropped off the South East side for some protection from the wind. Still well within the activation area.

Here are a few pictures from Vollmer Peak. I think that by this time I forgot that I had a camera. But I did get a few.

The two summits that you see in this Picture are Mt Diablo W6/CC-045 and North Peak W6/CC-051.

Thanks again to all the chasers. Thanks for being patient with me on my CW skills. I hope that they are starting to get better. I notice that I can pick up certain things a lot easier. Also, please understand that for me SOTA is a family sport a lot of the time. My young kids get very impatient if I stick around too long on the summit. I always have to incorportate throwing a football, geocaching, or something else to keep them entertained. I apologize for the quick band changes and low amount of actual time spent on a summit. As the years move on I am hoping for a family full of SOTA activations and some over night stays in the woods.

As most everyone knows I am off to Washington in April. I am looking forward to a bunch more summits that I have not activated and meeting some more SOTA activators. I do have a plan to activate a good amount of unactivated summits around the area here. Looking forward to the next few months of good weather in CA. 

Thanks again


  1. What a great activation Matt. Thanks for sharing those pictures and text.

    1. Thanks Frank and thanks for the contact today. I was excited when I heard your call come across the radio. CW is getting to be so much fun. I don't think that I am lugging the 857d up on any more activations. I think that it will just stay in the truck. My XYL KK6AHS is working on her general and then we might have to invest in a KX3! Take Care Frank.