Recent SOTA Activations

Saturday, June 4, 2016

"Bug Hill" (W7W/SO-106) SOTA

Kimber was excited to get a picture with the SOTA flag.
Kimber and I decided to head out of the house and give my wife a chance to get some work done without kids in the house, the others were in school.  She is also venturing into online writing.

"Bug Hill" is a small one point summit that is right off of Highway 8, no more then 10 miles from Olympia. Parking can be found at 47.0345, -1230968. If you park at this location the hike would be about 1.5 miles mostly road, but the last 1/4 mile or so is on a trail through the woods. From doing a little bit of research by using the Geocaches website, I found there is an alternate parking area at 47.0565, -123.0821 that would make the hike a little less than 3/4 of a mile that is all on the road.

This is not the greatest summit as there is really no view from the top except for the tower. If you walk over the Northside of the hill there is a great view of the Olympic Mountains and Summit Lake. 

I think that the band conditions were a little rough today with only 8 logged contacts and fairly poor reports across the board. It seams that radio conditions on have everything below 40m at either "fair" or "poor" for the last few days.  Even so, I am satisfied with the contacts I did get. 

It was great to be back on SSB with the FT-817nd. I also got my first two SOTA contacts on 18MHz today using the 817, it is the first time that I actually had this band as an option. I also tried 15 meters but had no luck getting contacts.

Today, I used the FT-817nd with the Super Antenna MP1. I like this antenna because I can manually tune all bands with the coil and no tuner. It is a little heavier but also works on summits with no supports or trees. I have went back and forth with whether to carry the Super Antenna as I always have a 41ft random wire in my bag and have never found a summit that I was not able to deploy the wire. I have the Elecraft T1 tuner to use with the 41 ft wire. I am sure that I can tune all bands with it. I am going to try and get the T1 to FT-817 remote wire here soon which would make changing bands easier when using the Yaesu. 

I recently purchased a Palm Pico Paddle that is used and it has become my favorite key. I also have a American Morse Porta Paddle II that I really like the feel of, however, it does not like the rain! Now that I live in Washington, in the rainy Northwest as opposed to sunny California, so it has to stay at home indoors.

Kimber had a great time on the summit and spent the time playing with different items in my radio bag and "looking" for geocaches in the area.

Cell Signal
I had decent cell signal from the summit and was able to spot myself with SOTA goat on my Iphone for all of my band changes. (Verizon)

Trail Conditions
Most of the "trails" that I took were gravel roads. Once you get to the tree line there is a small area that has a faint trail and requires some minor bush whacking. Once you are in the trees there is a nice defined trail all the way to the summit. If you use the alternate parking area then you will use gravel roads all the way to the summit. 

No Fee required

I did not use APRS today so I am not sure if it would have worked. I do suspect it would work fine, since it is in fairly close proximity to good repeaters.

A few more pictures from the trip
A glimpse of Mount Rainier on the way us. Amazing day.
This is on the Northside coming down the mountain. We went this way to find a Geocache and then made our way back to the truck using logging roads. This is a much longer way around. 

Thanks to all the chasers who made this an enjoyable activation. We hope for more SOTA trips in the future and for better band conditions. I hope to have my oldest daughter Lily get her license before the end of the summer. Until then, listen for the kids to call "CQ SOTA" using my call under my supervision in the next couple weeks.

Thanks again,


Matt (KF7PXT)


  1. Matt, great writeup and I really enjoyed your pictures. I hope to hear your kids calling CQ someday soon. That is always a great thrill for Lynn and I to talk to kids using Ham Radio. 73, Frank K0JQZ

    1. Thanks Frank! I hope to be up on a few this weekend and have the kids with me on some of them. I have put up some alerts but they are subject to change as the trip takes place. Thanks again.