Recent SOTA Activations

Sunday, August 18, 2019

7124 (W7M/FN-161) SOTA Activation (4 Points) Unactivated

If you are in Montana and see this one do not overlook it. You have the chance to see some cool history, and stay in a lookout tower all while doing a Summit.

On August 18th, 2019 the family and I headed out toward Werner Peak to help raise a local radio tower. I had spent the previous day helping to get the tower down and replace some solar panels and install a whether station at the site. Upon arrival it was evident that the repeater antenna had taken a direct lightening strike and was going to need to be replaced. So we headed up there and helped to get the tower back up and then headed down the trail.

Video of Werner Peak Lookout

DNRC Rental Page - Click here for the site where you can rent this lookout. It goes fast so check when the rental page opens for the year. 

The trail has a lot of ups and downs and can be a bit strenuous in places. My 6 year old girl with arthritis did it so use that as your guide. From the lookout you can head straight North following the well used trail. At this point you will have passed the ridge to the summit but the extra .2 miles is well worth it. You will come on an old (1913) trappers cabin that is still standing. There is a seasonal creek (still running today) that runs by the cabin.

Webpage with history of Cabin...check this out as it has some cool history.

We stopped for a few minutes and then my oldest son and I headed back up the trail to the ridge leading to the summit. The rest of the crew stayed at the cabin to get some shade, play in the stream, and find some frogs.

We followed the ridge on the South side of the summit. The first part of this after leaving the trail is very steep but if you just grind through that then the ridge walk to the top is very pleasant with good views of the glacier peaks, Werner lookout and the valley below.

Above is a short video of the trail. It is great condition and has some leisurely spots that are fun to walk.

Cell Signal (Verizon): Signal is sketchy in this area...even at the lookout. If you rely on cell spotting I think that you would have no problem getting a spot out though. It might just take a minute. 

Trail Conditions: When you are on the trail it is in great shape. There is no trail to the summit along the ridge. The ridge is steep at the beginning but then an easy hike after getting up the first part.

Equipment used: I used my Kenwood TM-D72a for all 2m contacts and APRS along the way. My wife (KK7DEL) at the Yaesu VX-6 down at the cabin and I carried the Elecraft KX-1 in the bag. With more time or no luck on 2m I was prepared to set it up.

APRS: There is an APRS node at Wernell and a repeater (146.26 MHz, PL - 100) You will have no issues with APRS during the hike. I was easily hitting 4 other APRS locations including all the way to Missoula on University Mountain.

GPS Tracks:

Driving GPS Tracks
Hiking Tracks

Distance: If you have to park at the gate (most likely) about 6.5 miles r/t if you go to the Cabin. If you skip the Cabin it will be about 6 miles. If you are able to get to the lookout and start from there you can take off about 1.4 miles from each of these distances.


I only did 2m FM today on the summit. When all of the kids are with me I don't want to spend a whole lot of time and bore them to death. They had a lot of fun but keeping it interesting is the key. It sure made it a lot easier that most of these people were 1.5 miles away working on the tower, and my wife was down at the cabin with the kids. If I get all of my kids licensed it will be a breeze! :) Thanks Leo, Ann, and Richard for having the radios on down in the valley.

There is some nice looking lakes down near the cabin and the fire lookout says that they have cutthroat in them. This trail also continues along the whitefish divide and could be backpacked with many opportunities.

Looking back at the lookout from along the trail 

Selfie from the summit. 

Huckleberries that Peyton and I picked on the way off the summit.

Kids picking more Huckleberries along the road on the drive down. 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Doris Mountain (W7M/FN-133) SOTA Activation

My kids acting crazy and moving during the panoramic picture...looks pretty cool though. 

We hiked Doris Mountain on 8/2/2019. I was acquainted with this hike as we had done it on June 15th, but were not able to gain the summit because of deep snow. This time Lily, Colten and I made the trip and it went quickly. We left the house a little after 9 in the morning and arrived at the trailhead just before 11. We did not return back home until after 5. Our actual hiking time was only 2 hours and 5 minutes as can be seen by the GPS below. The rest of the time was spent at the lakes and on the summit. We stopped at the 2nd lake on the way up and the upper most lake on the way down. The cool water was great for a swim. We also spent a couple hours on the summit enjoying the sun, making videos, eating lunch, and doing some Summits on the Air. 

There is the remnants of an old fire lookout at the summit but not much is there...the nail that came through my seat cushion reminded me of the past!

There is now a geocache on the summit...give it a few days to post. It is a small container right now but I am going to swap it out for an ammo can on the next trip. 

Bring your dog with you. Most of the trip is in the shade and there is plenty of water along the way. After you gain the summit ridge there is not much shade though. There are some small trees in the activation area that provide a little bit of shade. 

Cell Signal: 

Verizon: I had signal off and on while hiking up but the signal was strong while on the summit. 

Trail Conditions:

The trail is in great condition. It is much better then it was the last time that we were out there. I made an attempt at the summit on June 15th but there was still to much snow on the North East side of the summit to get to the top. The trail starts out by dropping down a few hundred feet and then starts to climb again up to the lakes. This low ground can be full of water and make it difficult to follow the trail if done to early. It was a complete swamp on June 15th when we did it. We were wading through water that was over knee deep. The climb to the lakes is relatively gentle and a nice stroll in the woods. There is a ton of fish (likely cutthroat and brook trout) in the 2nd lake. I would bet they are in the others also. After the lake it gets steeper and then once you gain the ridge it will get the blood pumping to the summit. 

Elecraft KX2, Home brew 20m dipole, Yaesu VX-6. 

Did not use APRS today. The last time that I was in this area I was getting my locations out at the lake. I guarantee that there would be no issues with using APRS...I forgot my Kenwood on the charger at the house. 

GPS Tracks:
Driving GPS Tracks

This starts from where I left hungry horse road. 11.6 miles on the road to the trail head...seems like forever...keep driving.

Driving Directions:
Drive East on HWY 2 out of Columbia Falls. After passing through the town of Hungry Horse turn South to the Hungry Horse Dam. Drive about 6 miles and turn right to Doris Ridge. Follow this gravel road 11.6 miles to the end and the trail head. Plan on about 45 min. to make the 11 mile drive to the TH.

As always I appreciate all the chasers! Sometimes I am not the best at CW but I love doing it. It was great to hear familiar voices today and I hope to be more frequent for the rest of the summer.

Hitting the upper lake on the way down. This lake was great for a after hike swim!

I designated my daughter Lily to get Pictures. She got some really neat ones. 

A picture from the summit of 2 of the three lakes. The trail goes right by all of these lakes.

There was a lot of bees and horse flies. They left us alone mostly. There was enough breeze in the summit to keep them away. Later the wind calmed down and they were everywhere. 

This was back at the truck and for the Total Trip. 6.28 miles (even with detours).

Elevation and trip distance at the summit.