Thursday, November 12, 2015

Double Activation Report: Pt 5764 (W6/SD-026) and Middle Peak (W6/SC-024)

I'll be spending a large amount of November and December in Southern California doing work-related things.  I'd be a fool if I didn't use these work trips as an opportunity to activate a few mountains in SoCal!  So, on 7 November (last Saturday), I activated a couple peaks.

First on the list:  Point 5764 (W6/SD-026), an unnamed hill along Sunrise Highway in the Cleveland National Forest on the way to the Laguna Meadows.

I had never activated this peak before, but a few others have.  A Google Map study revealed that there was a nearby parking area (the Pioneer Mail parking area) which would be ideal.  Oleh, KD7WPJ's, report said that there was no trail to the summit, though.  Gary, ex-KK6GXD (now K6YOA)'s report indicated likewise.  But a very close look at the highest-resolution imagery seemed to indicate a slight trail along the spine of the ridge which forms 5764.
Sign by the parking area.
Cross the Sunrise Highway from the parking area to the Pine Mountain Trail.
Sign marking the Pine Mountain trail.  Watch out for mountain bikers!

My strategy to hike 5764 would therefore be to basically follow KD7WPJ's instructions, but instead of hiking directly to the top, I would hike to the spine of the ridge and then follow the crest of the ridge up.  That's precisely what I did.

Once I hit the spine of the ridge, I noticed a well-worn path leading to the summit, making access much easier.  Later, I would follow this path down.

The summit is marked by an engineer stake pounded into the ground.
The summit.  This view is looking generally East.  You can see Sunrise Highway snaking along in the background.
The views from the summit were actually much grander than I expected.  To the north you could easily make out Santa Rosa, the San Gabriel, the San Jacinto, and San Bernardino mountain ranges.  To the northwest you could see the Palomar Range with its astronomical optical telescopes.  To the immediate west you could see the Cuyamaca Range (North Peak, Middle Peak, Cuyamaca Peak, and Stonewall Peak).  You could also see the environs of San Diego and the Pacific Ocean.  To the south lies several lower peaks (Viejas among them).  And to the east you could see mountains of the Lagunas (Laguna Mountain, Sheephead, etc.)  To the northeast lies the Salton Sea, Whale Peak, and Granite Peak, and the town of Borrego Springs within radio line-of-sight.
View looking West.  The highest peak in the distance is Cuyamaca Peak (W6/CC-014).  The two summits to the right of Cuyamaca are Stonewall Peak (W6/SC-029) and Middle Peak (W6/SC-024).
View looking generally North.  Numerous mountains can be seen, especially the Santa Rosa range.
View looking South.
View looking East.  Notice Sunrise Highway and the Pioneer Mail parking area.  The Pacific Crest Trail can also be seen leading from the parking area to the left (north).

It was a bit windy on the summit, with temperatures in the 40s, so I hunkered down an an area a bit south of the actual summit that was sheltered from the wind.  I bungee-corded my crappie pole to the engineer stake and slung my EARCHI wire antenna as a sloping wire toward my operating position, and I proceeded to make contacts starting on 20 meters SSB, and then shifting to CW on 20 and 40 meters.  Later, I broke out my HT and made contacts on 2 meters FM.  I also tried to make contacts on 223.5 MHz and 446.0 FM, but not takes, as is usual in this area.  I had one summit-to-summit contact with Peter, WA7JTM, who was activating another unnamed peak in Arizona.
Bungee-corded fishing pole atop the engineer stake.  Antenna is an end-fed wire leading from the pole to my operating position.
The radio.  Somehow when I'm using it, there doesn't seem to be so many wires.

Overall, it was a good activation.  27 total QSOs in under an hour, pretty good for a SOTA activation.
My SOTA log from Pt. 5764 (W6/SD-026).

Ok...for the hike down:  I simply followed the trail along the spine of the ridge south.  This trail intersected the Pine Mountain trail, which is a charted, maintained, and groomed trail.  I built a cairn at the intersection to mark the intersection for follow-on SOTA activators.  I turned left at the intersection and followed the Pine Mountain trail back to Sunrise Highway and the parking area.
Use trail leading from the groomed Pine Mountain Trail up to Pt. 5764.  Notice the small cairn I built to mark the trail.

I highly recommend taking the route described here.  It's much less brushy and navigation is much easier.  The extra distance covered is negligible, too.

Beware of mountain bikers on the Pine Mountain trail.  Two of them came upon me at high speed from behind.  I was lucky to have stepped out of the way in time.  They apologized and continued on their way.  One things about people in California:  Everyone is always in a great mood and very friendly!

After having completed the hike, I did some additional research on Peak 5764.  A previous hiker had evidently summitted the peak while carrying a Garmin using the route I described.  The route is shown here. profile for the peak is here.

Additional notes:  Peak 5764 has plentiful AT&T 3G access, SMS access, and APRS digipeater coverage.  Parking at Pioneer Mail parking area requires a National Forest Adventure Pass or Interagency Pass.  This peak has a summer seasonal bonus for being a desert peak, but given its elevation, I think it would be an easy bonus to get if you were to hike it in the summer.

After activating 5764 I decided to head to Middle Peak (W6/SC-024), the peak to the immediate north of Cuyamaca Peak.  It was perhaps a 15 minute drive to the Middle Peak trail head.  I won't belabor writing a description of Middle Peak or explain its navigation since it's basically a hike up a dirt fire road and is well-described here.  I will say that the peak's vegetation was destroyed in a fire back in 2003, and consequently it's dominated by burned-out timbers and very thick thorny bushes.  These bushes have grown a good deal in the last couple of years.  The final 200 vertical feet of the ascent requires bushwhacking through this nasty stuff.

Well, I bushwhacked.  And bushwhacked some more.  While there is a reforestation effort on Middle Peak, and some efforts to try to hold back the brush, the thorn bushes at the summit proved too thick to climb through.  I got to withing 45 vertical feet of the summit though, and that's in the activation cone.  Satisfied with my effort, and also satisfied that I had activated this peak from the summit in years past, I decided to set up my station on a rock on the western side of the mountain.
The road near the summit of Middle Peak.  That wall next to the road is thick thorny bushes, easily 7' tall.  Nasty stuff.

One of the trees planted as part of the reforestation effort.
My operating position.  What a mess.  But it worked!
This activation also went well.  I activated on 30, 20, 12, 10, and 2 meters, mostly CW.  I completed about 29 QSOs, with one summit-to-summit QSO.  I also attempted to make contacts on 223.5 and 446.0 FM, with no takers.  (You might think it's futile to make contacts on these bands, but believe it or not, I have made SOTA contacts on them.  This only happens very rarely.)  K6HPX chased me on 30 meter CW while mobile, which is notable too.
Middle Peak activation log.
After about 1.5 hours on the summit I came down.  The hike back was unremarkable save for the fact that I saw a small herd of deer on the way down.
Two deer, with Stonewall Peak in the background.
Additional notes:  AT&T 3G data, SMS, cell phone, and APRS coverage are all reliable.

It was a good activation day.  Two six-point peaks activated, with two summit-to-summit QSOs.  I was happy to work so many stations.  As always, thanks chasers!  73.

No comments:

Post a Comment