Recent SOTA Activations

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Mount Fremont (W7W/RS-005) SOTA Activation

On 13 August 2016 the family (Delma, Peyton, Brookelyn, Mikailla, Colten, and Kimber) and I headed out to Mount Rainier National Park with the intent of heading to Fremont Lookout. In this case the lookout is not actually located within the activation area of the summit. Another example of this is Jumpoff Mountain (W7W/MC-047) which also has the activation area a short distance from the lookout. We had originally planned to be out of the house early, but that did not happen. Kimber once again had a rough night sleeping and we all slept in until about 9ish. This meant that we were not getting out of the house until around 1030. With a stop by the store for some food and snacks for the road. Needless to say we were not actually on the road
until about 1130, which put us a Sunrise at about 1400. Anyone that has ever hiked with 5 kids knows that there is no way that we were going to make it to Fremont by my scheduled time of 1600, besides that we were going to walk right by the summit in route to the lookout and then return for the hike up to the true summit. My first contact on the summit was near 0100z time.

When we arrived at the summit I was relieved to find that there was plenty of room for the kids to do kid stuff without dad having to worry to much about them falling off of a cliff. There are still plenty of places for them to fall but there is also plenty of room for them to roam and bang rocks together making big rocks into small rocks! This seemed to be the fun of the day. Petyon went looking for a benchmark on the summit but was not able to find one. Delma started working the 2m call frequency and soon racked up 9 contacts in a relatively short time. I was setting up HF while trying to help Del log contacts on my phone. HF was fairly slow but I was still able to get some of my favorite chasers and a few new ones. I was a little worried that I would get a pretty good pileup if somehow the world found out that I was in a National Park. I really did not have the time to stick around to long so I am glad that did not happen. I worked 7 different chasers and then went down to 40 to try and work Phil in Oregon. We bounced around on frequencies and modes quiet a bit but I was never able to make the contact. I could hear Phil on 40m SSB but he was not able to pull my QRP signal out I do not believe. After trying to work Phil for a little bit the sun was starting to drop and it was starting to get a little chilly. Time to start heading back to the trailhead. We made it off the summit easily and gained the trail making the quick trip back to the car. - 2.25 mile hike with 1,306 ft of elevation gain.

One note for this activation. The highpoint is neither at the lookout nor the named peak. Make sure that you are heading to the right spot or you will not be in the activation area.

This Graph was also designed and downloaded on I thought it was a pretty cool feature.!mt=roadmap&z=11&call=a%2FKF7PXT&timerange=86400&tail=86400
One note...I noticed by looking at my APRS feed that my GPS signal was all over the place...many of my packets were no where near where I was or had been. If I had been all the places APRS said we were I think that we would still be out looking for the parking lot. I think that this is due to my GPS going into standby mode and then when the packet is sent it does not have enough time to get an accurate location. I will have to check on this for more accurate reporting.

****UPDATE: The position ambiguity setting is very important if you want people to know exactly where you are at. Put the setting to off....unless you don't want some serial killer to know where you are, or you are running from the law then it is best to put it at 4...or just turn off your APRS :)

APRS was working well from the van though.!mt=terrain&z=10&call=a%2FKF7PXT-5&timerange=86400&tail=86400

Other Small details

Today I used the FT817nd, MP1 SuperAntenna, and my Iphone for logging. Maybe not my lightest setup but it works great in almost every set of conditions. SuperAntenna seems to do well I don't need a tuner.

Weather was amazing. 75 degrees when we left the van and a great view of Mount Rainier the whole day. We even got a little breeze for most of the trip that kept everything tolerable.

Plenty of Mountain goats around, approximately 40 spotted the whole day, a few elk at the parking lot, and a few chipmunks on the trail.

Download GPS files here: or here

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Kimber (3) was a little tired by the end of the day. Her legs seem to be bothering her and she was fighting a bit of a cold. She rode the dad limo for a good portion.

Thanks everyone for reading my blog and chasing Delma and I while we are on the summit. We had a great day!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mount Catherine (W7W/CW-066) / Denny Creek Water Slide / Wynoochee Falls

On Saturday 30 July Lily (12), Brookelyn (7), Kimber (3) and I headed to Mount Catherine for a hike and SOTA activation. This was the second time that Lily and I had done Mount Catherine. Peyton was with us last year but his year he was visiting his dad in Montana, he will be back next weekend with hopes to hit Mount Townsend (TBD).

I had talked to Chris, WX7EMT, a couple days prior and I knew that he was planning on doing Mount Defiance also today. I figured that I would be able to work him while I was driving up to Catherine and possibly get up in time to get a summit to summit with him. It turns out that Chris got a late start due to his wife having a flat tire and decided to do Catherine also.

On the drive up 146.52 was really busy with SOTA activators. I was able to work KG7VIZ on Mount Pilchuck, WX7EMT on Mount Catherine, and K3OG on Big Snow Mountain just on 146.52 on the way to the trail head. I know that there was a couple other activators on frequency also, one was on Green Mountain and another on Fremont lookout but not within the activation area for SOTA.

We got to the trailhead and started hiking at 1330, a little later then planned but this is what happens when you head out with young kids. As you can see by my Fit bit profile below the hike was 1.83 miles with 1,407 ft of elevation gain and took us 1:17 minutes. We really took our time with Kimber (3 years old) but we had a fun trip, Little 3 year old legs do not move very fast, but she is doing great considering she has juvenile idiopathic arthritis, she does really great all things considered. Sometimes dad gets a little more exercise when she needs to be carried.

On the way to the summit we were able to meet Chris, WX4EMT, coming down from his activation.

Once I got to the summit I quickly decided not to do HF (Sorry Chasers)! The summit block is very small and there was quite a bit of hikers up today. With Kimber I also wanted to keep a close eye on her because it would be easy to fall off the summit in all directions. So we sat and enjoyed the view and I used the Kenwood to work contacts on VHF. The first contact I got was K3OG. Peter was nice enough to wait for me to get to the summit so that I could get a summit to summit contact. I wanted to work him so that he could start his trip off the summit. I knew that he had a long trip down from Big Snow Mountain. 

I ended up getting 7 contacts with the HT and did not have to work hard at it. In fact my first 3 contacts were on frequency waiting for me to get to the summit. Thanks Peter, Chris, and Doug for being there waiting for me!! 

After we made the hike off the hill we headed down to Denny Creek to the natural water slide. Here is a link to the Washington trail association hike:
The site states that it is 6 miles round trip but if you only go to the water slide it is less then three miles. We hit the water slide at just over one mile and the other half mile was exploring. There is a lot to explore and it is a great time!!! Pictures below show our waterslide trip.

 On Sunday we did a day trip to Wynoochee Lake and Falls. This is another short but fun hike with swimming for kids. Here is a link for that: If you are ever in this neck of the woods and you have kids they will love these places. See pictures below.

I shared a little more about our weekend then just our SOTA trip but there is so much more that we do on a typical weekend then just SOTA. We are a busy family. I drag my kids to much more then just mountain tops! 

My wife and I were just commenting how we never have pictures of each other. I guess we are going to have to get better at that. 

Thanks everyone for reading my blog. I love the comments and emails that we get on them and they are a lot of fun. It is also a great way to keep memories to look back at later. 

See you all on the next one...thinking Mount Townsend on Saturday 6 August with Lily and Peyton...of course everything is subject to change in the Conover family!

Lily is working on a Video of our trip right now and I will upload to YouTube and attach to the blog when she is complete. She loves shooting video and editing so it will be great to see what comes out.