Sunday, May 25, 2014

Dennie Ahl Hill (W7W/SO-079) SOTA

On 25 May 2014 I decided to give mom some much needed time alone at home and took the other 4 kids (Peyton, Brookelyn, Colten, and Makailla) out of the house for some time out in the woods. Of course this was going to consist of Geocaches, a picnic, and a SOTA squeezed in. Of course since we are up in the Pacific Northwest now we are going to have to deal with the rain. I figure that it is better to learn how to deal with it then wait for it to go away. If I wait for it to quit raining here I will never get any activations in! So we headed up to the hills. There was quite a few things that I wanted to check out in the Southern Olympic area and one of them was Lake Cushman. It appeared that I could check out the lake and then head around the southern end of the lake to pick up a SOTA or two. We checked out the lake and had a picnic lunch along the side of it. Then we headed to the south but there was no way to get throught the damn on the South side of the lake. So I put the coordinates in my GPS and started heading south on 101. The GPS took me right to the summit. I kept an eye on the summit and stopped out of the activation zone and got the bag out and headed the last little bit up to the top and sent the kids out looking for the Geocache. Once I was set up I ran back down to the truck and brought it up to the summit. I wanted the truck there in case the kids got to wet and cold. In the end they ended up playing out in the rain the whole time and found the tad poles that were in the puddles very interesting. There was a decent amount of area for them to run around also. Contacts were very tough today with all the contest traffic making it hard to find a clear frequency. Just when I was just about to stop on HF and bag for a VHF contact Elliot, K6EL, called me and told me where there was a clear frequency. Thanks Elliot! This made it easy and Tommy (W7RV) and Rich (N4EX) were there when I got on frequency. Thanks!!! I also did a little recon for several other 1 & 2 point summits in the area and a good day to the area could likely yield 3 or 4 summits if I just took Peyton with me. The near future is looking toward these summits and some good camping and fishing in the area. 



Waterfall near Cushman Lake.
Cell Signal: 
Verizon - Full 3G signal. No issues with calls or data spotting. After you drop off of the summit you are going to lose all cell signal though.

Repeaters:
I was able to get into the OARS (Olympia Amateur Radio Society) repeater on 147.36 mhz, 103.5 PL with full quieting.




 Radio working conditions: 
Horrible. The biggest issue was the contest traffic which left me pretty much on 30m for my activation. I did get a few contacts on 20m and 40m which were extremely helpful in making it a successful activation.

Trail Conditions
Road all the way to the top. You can drive all the way up but there are a couple of pull offs right outside the activation to make for a good approach for SOTA.

Weather: 
About 50 degrees and rainy!

Fees:
None




EVERYTRAIL ROUTE


From Olympia take HWY 101 North to West Skohomish Valley Road. You will have to follow forest service roads from there. If you have a GPS follow the everytrail link and download the GPX tracks into your device. They will take you right there.
As you can see we did a fair amount of traveling today. I thought that originally we would be able to come around the south side of the lake. Do not go this way as the damn that creates the lake is locked up tight. You must head further south and come around the less obvious way. The road is good and accessable by any vehicle, unless your vehicle is lowered then to bad for you.
http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2794961

Geocache Screenshot. Notice there is one right at the summit.

Setup: 
PFR3 with 1800 m/ah LiPo - http://www.qrpkits.com/pfr3.html
AME Porta Paddle II - http://www.americanmorse.com/portapaddle.htm I am back to the Porta Paddle now. I took it apart and cleaned it up and it is working well. The Te-Ne-Ke is still in the pack as a back up.

Contacts: 

Used the Rite in the Rain pad today. I think that I will switch to this even on non rain days. Easier to write in any format that I feel like!


Thanks to my few loyal Chasers! Sorry to everyone else. Tough conditions today.

Monday, May 12, 2014

W7W/SO-073 Rock Candy Mountain & W7W/SO-078 ""Message Peak""

Hammy's Resting Place. RIP Hammy.
On 10 May Peyton and I decided to head up in the hills and do a little SOTA. Actually the trip had two purposes. 1. for me to do a SOTA 2. To bury Peyton's Hamster (Hammy). We decided to head up Rock Candy Mountain which is a local peak that I had been to in the past. I knew that you could drive the majority of the way up this summit. We were able to get within about 2 miles of the summit but it is an easy walk from the locked gate. We took our time getting up to the summit. Peyton lead the way up the mountain and at about 1.6 miles we saw a trail heading up the side of the mountain. The trail was faily steep for the last 0.3 miles but the trail was good and the bushwack at the top was not to bad either. When we came out on the road we were at 2293ft which was well within the activation area with the summit at 2,355 ft. I found a decent tree to support my EFHW antenna and Peyton found a good spot to bury Hammy. Peyton did all the digging and burying and then I put together a make shift cross at the end of my activation. As you can tell our dog Charlie also joined us. 

This was the first total activation with the KX1. 
After the activation and a little lesson on life and death with Peyton we started the walk back down to the truck. We talked most of the way down and enjoyed the nice short walk. Later on that day Delma and I decided to head out and go back up in the hills to look for some places that we may be able to camp out for a weekend. We found a few places and were out also for a recon of ""Message Peak"" which was previously unactivated. As I am driving by the road that goes right by the peak Curtis, KC5CW sends me a text and asks if I will be chasing. I texted back and said that I was right by one and asked Del if I could run up and work the summit really quick. Del Joined me and took quite a few pictures of the nice green foliage in the area. I did not have any luck working Curtis but still got a few Qs in to make it a successful activation. 

Highlights of the Day: Getting the KX1 on the air for the first time! Working a S2S with NA6MG! Spending time with Peyton and Delma! Working Finland for the first time from a Summit! Going over 100 Activator Points!
Driving Route to Rock Candy Mountain Locked Gate - http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2777488


http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2777484 - Hiking to Rock Candy Mountain
http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2777483 - Driving route to ""Message"" Peak. The little spur to the south is the road that leads right passed the summit. Park at the end of the road and then walk back up to the Peak.


Cell Signal: 
Verizon - I was showing signal but was still having trouble getting any texts out.




 Radio working conditions: 
Great conditions

Trail Conditions
Mostly traveling on roads with a couple short trails / bush whacking. Forest floor did not have  alot of vegetation. Easy going.

Weather: 
Sunny 60 degrees.

Fees:
Discover pass required - http://www.discoverpass.wa.gov/

Setup: 
KX1 / PFR3
Te-Ne-Key and KX1 Paddle

Contacts: 
Thanks to all the Chasers. It was great to get Dan (NA6MG) on the S2S, and to work OH9XX from Finland. I spent a lot of time messing with Radios and Antennas.

A good quick activation putting another one on the map. 

Thanks to all the Chasers!!!