Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pt. 1380 (W6/NC-380) SOTA Activation

On Tuesday 25 February 2014 I took full advantage of the fact that I am leaving my job and thus have nothing to do. In fact my whole mission is trying to get back in shape and healthy to report to my next duty station up in Joint Base Lewis / McChord, WA. What better way to do that then head off for a hike in the mountains...with a little SOTA of course. My total trip was a easy 7 miles. There is no view off of the summit on this one but the views in the forest are amazing. It is basically in the coastal forests with a lot of vegetation and fog. There was no hard climbs but just a couple steady ones then travel along the ridge the whole way. The trail starts at an elevation of 256ft and gradually climbs to 1,380 ft. When you get to the summit you have to be careful or you are likely to walk right by it. With all the vegetation you do not get the feeling that you are on a summit. In fact it is so thick with ferns and vines that you would need a machete to get to the summit; I did not go all the way as the trail was in the Activation Zone. The trail was a great example of the Northern California coastal forests. I was able to hear chasers very well but my reports were generally low. I think that this is because my antenna was oriented North / South because of the terrain available. I only made 12 contacts CW on 30m and 20m. I don't think that band conditions were that good today. I packed up after about 30 min of operating and ran back down the trail to the truck. I apologize for not staying on the summit longer but I had to get back to work and at least earn my pay check for the day. After all you all are paying me! Though you did undercut me a little on my 5 deployments so I am just making up a little time.

Route: 
- North on HWY 101 across the golden gate bridge.
- CA-1 North to Olema Bolinas Rd. (25 mi)
- Turn L. onto Olema Bolinas Rd (1.2 mi)
- Turn L. to stay on Olema bolinas rd for about 1/2 mile
- Turn R. on Mesa Rd. and go approx 3.6 Miles - Watch for a gate with a TH sign for Ridge Trail on your right. If you make it to the Bird Sanctuary turn around you have gone to far. Find parking on the side of the road. I was concerned about parking but after I parked the Ranger passed me and waved.

Cell Signal: 
Full digital signal. Was able to send and receive SOTA goat spots.



 Radio working conditions: 


 No issues. Nice and quiet on the bands. The big issue that I had was that I was only able to set up right on the trail. At this point in the trail it is going North / South. There is absolutely no way to get your wire to go East / West on the summit because of the thick vegetation. This may explain the low QSO count.



 The photo to the Right is the tree that I hung my antenna off of. As you can see the vegetation on the sides of the trail is thick and cannot be breached. I was forced to run my wire down the trail which is a North / South orientation.



This is a good representation of the trail all the way down the ridge.
Trail Conditions: 
Very nice trail all the way to the top. I wore running shoes and had no issues. Very easy to follow all the way to the summit and further on down the ridge.
Weather: 
Foggy and about 45 degrees. It started to rain but I am not sure if it was really rain or if it was just the fog falling off of the trees. I did not want to stay long as it started to get chilly sitting still.



Fees:
None



Setup: 
PFR3 with 1800 m/ah LiPo - http://www.qrpkits.com/pfr3.html
Contacts:
I did not have a lot of contacts today but it was a short trip. I only did 30 and 20m and did both bands until the chasers stopped. 
Band Conditions may have had a little with the low QSO count.


I ran into about 100 of these little lizards on the trail. I had to watch out or I would have stepped on a few of them. They are pretty slow moving also.

This is that trail that I used.
This is another option coming from HWY 101




Pretty interesting antenna farm right on the coast

Check out this antenna!




Thanks again to all of the Chasers!!!

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