Saturday, September 12, 2015

Kelly Butte (W7W/KG-060) SOTA



Our first view of the Lookout.
I went out with Doug (KY7S) and did a joint activation for NA SOTA weekend to Kelly Butte. We met up at the Bonny Lake Park at 0800 and ride and then Doug drove to the Trailhead. We were at the lookout by approximately 1030. We talked with the lookout attendants and then set up our stations. We did some work deconflicting our working habits but after that everything went well. We were surprised by the amount of Washington activators that we were able to pull in on 146.52 FM. I did not expect there to be this much local activity. Thanks to all the chasers and other activators!



Here is our GPS tracks to the summit. As you notice we had to start a little farther to the south on the road. The forest service has put up a post to stop you from driving up any further. The road portion is an easy walk. After that you hit the switchbacks which will get you winded. Then the short easy stretch to the lookout. 

Cell Signal: 
Cell signal (Verizon) was very spotty on the summit. Sometimes I would have nothing and then I would have some analog. At one time I looked at my phone and saw 4 bars 3G. Crazy cell signal don't rely on it.

Repeaters:
Did not try any repeaters up here. I did make a few contacts on 146.52 FM.





Trail Conditions
1.5 miles great trail. Steep  with a lot of switchbacks.

Fees:
Pass may be required. We put them all on the dash just in case.

APRS:
Worked great from the summit but not so much on the way up


Mount Rainier behind the Lookout

A peek inside

Benchmark

Mount Rainier

20 Total contacts today; 14 of the Summit to Summit.

Check out my points per activation (2.40) If I ever do make it to Mountain Goat I am pretty sure that I am going to have the most summits activated when I make it. I was talking to Doug and saying that some of my 1-2 point summits have been more difficult then my 6-8 point summits. I love just getting onto the Summits!

My summit to summit log for today

Thanks to all the great chasers that make it so much fun out there....and to my wife for giving me a pass!

I realized that this was my first W7W/KG summit that I activated!

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.

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.

This website will have a ton of information on Washington summits. I use this site often.

Another site with a lot of information. This works great for summits without official trails. Sometimes you can even get GPS tracks off of here.



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mount Catherine (W7W/CW-066) SOTA


Lily and Peyton at the Summit
 I had to make a quick trip to Ritzville, WA on the 24th of August to take Lily back to Montana. She spent the last few weeks with me and had to start school on the 26th. We decided to make a quick Geocache hike and SOTA activation on our way over. Mount Catherine was a great choice because it was a short, quick hike, It was a SOTA complete for me, and there were geocaches on the way up. Thanks to all the chasers that worked me up on the mountain. I apologize for the "CW moments" as it had been a while since I had practiced. I am continuing to get better though. One thing that I really need to do (I keep saying this) is to get back into a SSB mode. I had the kids do some calling on 2m FM but there was just not anyone taking today. I have recently purchased a LNR Precision FX4 but it seems to be very picky with antennas. I just got a LNR Precision MTR EF Antenna. If I can get this tuned and working I should be able to get the kids back on the air. They are both working on getting their tickets but until then I like to hear then on HF. If there are any ideas on antennas I would like to hear. I am working the linked dipole option also but I have been busy lately.

Charlie the GEOSOTA dog on the summit.
Directions and Information:
http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mount-catherine

Cell Signal: 
Cell signal (Verizon) most of the way up and great at the summit. No issues with digital spotting.

Repeaters:
Did not try any repeaters up here. I did make a couple calls on 146.52 with no luck.




 Radio working conditions: 
No noise...great conditions.

Trail Conditions
2 miles great trail.

Weather: 
Nice warm, smokey day today.

Fees:
None, I can't remember if there was a requirement. I have all passes in my truck so sometimes I forget to worry about things like this. I don't believe anything is required though.

APRS:
Not tested today. Sorry.

Mount Rainier through the smoke
Making the Geo Cache find at the top

Not sure what is going on here. Peyton and Lily took lots of pictures for me.

Not sure where it goes but it is there.


A quick picture of my setup. Elecraft KX1, Yaesu VX-6, 500mah battery, and a box to keep it all dry!
Support for the EF Antenna.

The radio all boxed up and ready for the trip off the summit. 

 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.

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.




Lolo Peak (W7M/LM-010) SOTA


Jumbo Geocaching
The family and I made a quick trip to Montana during my vacation and before the kids started school. My plan was to get up there and do a lot of SOTA but the forest fires and other obligations had other ideas. We left Washington after work on Friday the 28th of August and were in Montana in smokey weather early Sat. morning. When the sun rose we were greeted to a thin layer of soot on the van and no mountains visible from the valley. On Saturday we did a little geocaching on Mount Jumbo (W7M/LM-175) but the kids were not patient enough for me to do an activation. As you can see by the pic to the right we did not even get to the summit. I did find remnants of the cache to the Northeast of the smiley but believe the cache is gone. On the 1st of September we woke up to find that the rain and wind from the night before had cleared the smoke out. We took our chance and headed out. Lolo Peak it was. Lolo peak was a previously unactivated summit, it is 9,130 ft and if we were going to activate it was going to have to been soon or it would have snow. We made the 14 mile round trip hike up to the summit and a successful activation. When we left Missoula on September 6th there was a good dusting of snow on the summit.With the rock Scramble this would be a tough climb now.
Caches from Lolo Peak
A couple notes on this track...it is approximate.
Where the waypoint is bring a fishing pole for some
fresh trout! Follow the track to the South side of the
lake for the best route then follow the ridge...carefully




Log:
My complete log from SOTA Watch. 
KE5AKL's log with our S2S contact
Cell Signal: 
Cell signal (Verizon) most of the way up and great at the summit. No issues with digital spotting.

Repeaters:
I was able to use the Point 6 Repeater 147.040 (No PL) and Patricks Knob Repeater 147.14 PL103.5 withou any issues. I had great simplex signal into the Bitteroot and Missoula Valleys with 2m contacts from each.




 Radio working conditions: 
No noise...great conditions.

Trail Conditions
The first 4.5 miles of trail to Carlton lake is great with only one blow down over the trail. After the lake it is all route finding, steep but easy to find your way

Weather: 
53 degrees at the car at 0800. Windy and chilly on the summit.

Fees:
None

APRS:
I used my new TH-D72 for the first time on this activation. I sent an email to Stewart (stewart.g0lgs@g0lgs.co.uk) and made sure that I was registered for the APRS2SOTA. I also would send an update every 15 min to update my location, and sent emails to my XYL giving her updates. APRS worked great!!!

This is the high water mark from Glacial Lake Missoula. This one is on the side of Mount Jumbo but you can find them on the hills around the valley.

The kids on the "L" on the side of Mount Jumbo. Notice how smokey it is down in Missoula.


Very Smokey


Nice big blackbear.


Peyton on the Trail up to Lolo Peak. The first 4.5 miles were all nice trail like this.

The view from Carlton Ridge. About 4 miles into the Lolo Peak hike. Notice that there is a lot less smoke today.

A photo of the false summit. There is another mile to go after you make it up this ridge.

On the damn at Carlton Lake.

We gained the ridge. Getting to the ridge is the steepest part of the trip

Lakes all over this area. I have been told that they are all decent fishing. I will bring a rod with me next time.


Thanks to all the chasers who took the time to come and find me, and Mike (KE5AKL) who took the time to work with me on the S2S contact. A special thanks to Dean (KJ6CQC) for giving me a call and letting everyone locally know that I was up on the summit. Dean also sent me an APRS message, it was good to see this feature work on the radio!

My time is much more limited then it was a couple years ago. It seems that my kids are getting older and more demanding of my time. The Army is expecting more time from me also. Just this last summer I went over my 18 year mark in the Army. I know this sounds like OMP (Old man problems) but the military has taken its toll on me. I can still get out and travel some miles but the consequences are getting worse as I get older :) Thanks again!


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.

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.