Recent SOTA Activations

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 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:

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: - 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 - 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. - 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. - 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. - 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. - 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. - 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. - 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. - 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. - Interested in a line of site for possible VHF S2S. Check here and see what it says! - 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 -

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