W6-ND-037 (Lookout Mnt) SOTA Activation July 11, 2015

I love the great outdoors and in January 2012 I took the opportunity to stop while driving through an uncharacteristically open Tioga Pass in Yosemite. Usually highway 120 is buried deep in pristine snow from November to May. This rare opportunity had to be memorialized with a short hike. The blue sky and crisp temperature in the low teens fahrenheit, all seemed to good to be missed. I thought I’d have a story to tell but as it turns out its not quite the one I wanted.

I headed off on a very simple and flat trail with the intent of going no more than a mile or so past Lambert Dome toward Dog Lake. While sitting in a toasty car the woods seemed appealing and I set off bundled up like the Michelin man. The trail starts out with beautiful views of Tuolumne Meadow, Cathedral Peak but quickly turns to ice and I’m beginning to have doubts about the soundness of this adventure. I know the bears are safely hibernating but think being alone in the woods with a the storm heading in later is just plain stupid and decide this Yosemite adventure should wait to be shared with friends on warmer days. Unfortunately its not long before I slip, not once but twice. I think nothing of this and return to my car and start my drive back to San Francisco only to begin to feel a swelling in my left knee. Days later the very nice Dr Dye informs me I have torn my meniscus and no these things don’t just heal themselves. You need a knee operation and guess what…it takes 18+ months to fully recover! Two knee operations later and a numerous lessons in patiences, humility and the consequences of bad decisions I find myself living a dream that has sustained me through my knee debacle.

The dream is SOTA.

Its now literally 3+ years on from my Yosemite mishap and I’m atop Lookout Mtn setup with my KX3, Hardrock 50 and vertical Buddipole configured for 20m. Everything people have said about the electrically quiet environment of the great outdoors is proven to me first hand this sunny morning. PSK31 and JT65 signals sound so clear and pop out the radio. The bands are crowded as it appears to be contest day for some a group of hams.

Lookout Mnt view looking South East into Sierras
Lookout Mnt view looking South East into Sierras

Calling CQ for the very first time results in a cacophony of voices all on top of each other and I’m frozen trying hard to decode call signs. My chasers are patient and I have quickly logged 7 QSOs and feel very excited. Doing something for the first time is always a mixed emotion; anticipation, apprehension through to elation. Ive done it and made the transition from talking about it to doing it!

A happy W6PNG having accomplished his first ever SOTA activation
A happy W6PNG having accomplished first ever SOTA activation

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