Sunday, November 15, 2015

Activation Report for Mt. Baden-Powell (W6/CT-004) and Table Mountain (W6/CT-067)

With my work-related trip in California continuing, every weekend brings another opportunity to activate another SOTA peak or two.  This weekend has been no exception.  So, yesterday I activated Mt. Baden-Powell (W6/CT-004) and Table Mountain (W6/CT-067), both located in the Angeles National Forest.

A side note:  Hwy 2, the Angeles Crest Highway, has been closed for some time between Vincent Gap and Islip Saddle due to a rock slide.  I had previously climbed Baden-Powell and Throop Peak from Dawson Saddle, a point which is no longer reachable by automobile.  So this time I made the climb up Baden-Powell from Vincent Gap, an 8-mile round trip hike with about 2800' of elevation gain and loss.  The peak reaches an elevation of about 9,400' above mean sea level.  Wikipedia article is here.

Additionally, both hikes require either a National Forest Adventure Pass or an Interagency Pass to park a vehicle.  APRS coverage and AT&T 3G data coverage were plentiful at both summits.

Sign at Vincent Gap.

The weather couldn't have been more beautiful:  Mid-50s, very light winds, and sunny.  The Vincent Gap hike is also a lovely approach, with a 41 switchbacks and a very steady 700' per mile gradient.  The trail is actually the PCT for most of the hike, and it is very well-marked.

There were sections of the hike which contained small amounts of snow and a bit of ice, but as long as you're careful, there's no reason to slip.
The snow started to appear at about switchback #13 of 41.  I counted the switchbacks as I climbed.  One of the things I really like about the Angeles National Forest is the lack of underbrush.  I think this is due to the acidity of the soil.
The trail is on the north-facing slope, and it's well-shaded providing a cool climbing environment.  Though the switchbacks seemed tedious, they are helpful, as the pitch of the north slope is pretty steep.
View looking west at switchback #25.  It's steep.
After switchback #38 you reach a section that's pretty flat.  The destination is the hill straight ahead.  The PCT splits off just ahead and continues down to the right.
There were few other hikers out.  I saw perhaps a dozen other climbers.

Mt. Baden-Powell is, of course, named for Lieutenant General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, OM GCMG GCVO KCB.  Or you can just call him Lord Baden-Powell.  He was a Lieutenant General in the British Army, a writer, and founder of the Scout Movement.

At the summit you will find an obelisk dedicated to Baden-Powell and a USGS survey marker.
View looking north.  I would have hated to be the mule that carried all that concrete up the mountain.
One of the plaques on the obelisk.
Another plaque.
Another another plaque.
Another another another plaque.
Not another plaque.  This is the survey marker.  My XYL loves to find these.
I signed the register and, in the register, I dedicated this SOTA activation to the victims of the recent violence perpetrated by Daesh in Paris.  I know it won't help to aleviate the suffering, nor will it rid the world of Daesh, but hell, every one of the victims deserves a bit of a remembrance.  And Daesh delenda est.
I found an area with some trees on the summit and set up for SOTA work.  The bands weren't in great shape, nor were they awful.  They were just fine.  The A index was a touch high at 14.  K index was 2.
My setup just before deploying my antenna.  My homemade UNUN is in the black box to the immediate left of the FT-817ND.  PB sandwich at the ready, too.
It was a good activation.  I used several HF bands, using both SSB and CW.  I then switched over to 50.2 MHz SSB and made a contact (almost two, actually.  KK6QMS tried to make it work.  I could hear him, but he couldn't hear me.)  I then switched to 223.5 MHz and 446.0 MHz and made contacts on each of those bands too.  It's fun to use some of the lesser-used real estate in our allocations.
My SOTA logbook from the Baden-Powell activation.
After packing up I contemplated heading to Throop Peak (W6/CT-005), but given the amount of daylight left, I decided against that.  Instead I headed back down to Vincent Gap.

After reaching Vincent Gap I headed back toward the town of Wrightwood, outside which is the Table Mountain camping and ski area.  Table Mountain (W6/CT-067) is essentially a drive-up peak, but government installation precludes making the final approach by any means except by foot.
The sign which keeps SOTA activators honest.
The road to the summit.
It was about 1600 local time, which meant that it was actually 0000z, when I started operating.  Indeed, a new day had dawned!
My operating position at Table Mountain.
This time I put out extra radials and slung my wire as vertically as possible into a tree.  I was trying to make the antenna as good as possible to increase the likelihood that I would be able to get it to load up on 80 or 75 meters.

The sun was setting and there was a definite chill in the air.  I put on a fleece cap and started to operate.

I managed to get the antenna to work on 75 meter SSB, but 80 meters proved to be too much for my little tuner to handle.
Thanks, NG6R.
I then packed up and drove back to the hotel.

Overall it was a great day.  I earned another 16 activation points, experienced a great deal of beautiful California scenery, and put some miles under my feet.  I also made some contacts on some unusual bands, which is always a bit of a joy.

I appreciate all the help, chasers.  73.  And Vive la France!



  2. An Adventure Pass is not required if a person has parked their car in the forest to do some hiking. A pass is only required if one is using Forest Service facilities such as picnic tables, restrooms, etc. Last year (2014), a Federal judge ruled that the four forests in Southern California were improperly collecting fees from visitors who were not using Forest Service amenities. The Forest Service doesn't seem to be advertising the fact that a person no longer needs a pass to just park their car in the forest, but they will explain the change when asked.