Pluto, the story of a dog, a planet and a mountain near Tahoe (W6/NS-138) Oct 20, 2015

Summit: W6/NS-138

Activation Date: October 20, 2015

ATT Data Coverage: Excellent

ATT Voice coverage: Not sure but presumed to be excellent

APRS Coverage: Not sure

Access: Drive Watson Rd (paved) ~5.9 miles from 267 or about 1 mile from Mt Watson (W6/NS-147). Park/trail head at N39 13’47 W120 08’31

Hike stats:  3.6 miles roundtrip and 900′ of ascent up to 8,617′, walk on dirt road and semi-exposed treed summit with a radio tower and numerous buildings and ski lifts.

The bright red sign was hard to miss. I’m probably only half a mile into the ascent and I’m clearly lost as the sign points toward the sky (at planet Pluto I presume) and not up the trail. Even better the question on the Yahoo group about who should my wife call if I don’t come home is answered in the sign as someone has very conveniently posted a phone number to call in an emergency.

Clearly I'm going the wrong way as the arrow points up into the sky and toward planet Pluto
Clearly I’m going the wrong way as the arrow points up into the sky and toward planet Pluto

Mt Pluto is only a mile or so from Mt Watson so the terrain etc is quite similar but now the sun is out in full force and we have reached a heady 55F prompting me to shed my yeti style down vest.

Half the fun of a first time SOTA activation are the unknowns of the trail, the views and what the peak is like. It turns out this Pluto is a launch place for skiers as the peak is home to a medley of buildings, ski lifts and a whopping communications tower. As I wander through a dog starts barking. He seems very serious about his bark and I presume it has something to do with me. Its not vanity, just common sense as he wasn’t barking a moment ago, I made a few steps and presto he is barking. I rest my case, it’s me. My mind turns to the dastardly creature from Hounds of the Baskerville’s. Luckily day light and a leash seem to have saved me as his bark fades and my thoughts focus on my next conundrum; its not entirely clear were best to setup. I don’t want to setup next to the pooch’s kennel, nor one of the big red seemingly all metal ski lift building and I definitely didn’t want to descend too far down one side or the other and somehow disrupt my 12 watt signal. I settle for a rather boring location which is definitely not a Room with a View unless you like staring at pine trees.

Somewhere lurking within these buildings is a very serious dog ....
Somewhere lurking within these buildings is a very serious dog ….

Antenna up, radio out, contacts made and I’m feeling good. Two down, one to go and a beer awaits me. Being the smart orienteer that I am I pick an exit route that avoids my yet to be acquainted four legged friend and head down on the ascent trail after a little bushwhacking. I love my Garmin eTrex 20. Having actually learnt how to use it, it actually can get you were you want. Marvelous!

An easy trail to hike along surround by pines
An easy trail to hike along surrounded by an abundance of pines
Looking east third of way down from peak
Looking east third of way down from peak

The Boy Scout mantra “Be Prepared” is oft thought of in the context of something untoward and unexpected but in my case it was “Be Prepared” for lunch as I had previously prepared myself a very tasty cheese sandwich which I slowly consumed as my car leasiurely ambled to my third and final activation for the day; W6/NS-189 Pt 7740. More on that later.

Mt Pluto Hike in and out (yellow) and activation zone (red)
Mt Pluto Hike in and out (yellow) and activation zone (red)

NS-138 Profile - 2015-10-24 at 21-13-34

Time Call Band Mode Notes
18:05z WA7SB 7MHz SSB 53 RX 58 TX
18:08z NG6R 7MHz SSB 58 TX 53 RX
18:09z WB0USI 7MHz SSB 57 TX 56 RX
18:09z W7RV 7MHz SSB 57 TX 33 RX
18:19z W0MNA 14MHz SSB 46 TX 46 RX
18:19z W7USA 14MHz SSB 55 RX 56 TX
18:20z W0ERI 14MHz SSB 46 TX 46 RX
18:21z K7HLN 14MHz SSB 56 TX 41 RX
18:26z N6KZ 7MHz SSB 56 TX 52 RX
18:26z W7CNL 7MHz SSB 56 TX 55 RX

One comment

  1. And there was me thinking we were talking about bouncing signals off Pluto and waiting ages for the echo! I like the blue sky, not been many blue sky days this year in GM. I also like first time activations, no path, no people, deer fence obstacles and on occasions, no bridge.

    G0EVV, currently 9H3DS. Have fun, David


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