A Tahoe Hat Trick at an Ugly Duckling, W6/NS-189 Pt. 7740, October 20, 2015

Summit: W6/NS-189

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) ~1.5 miles from 267 or about 4 mile from Mt Pluto (W6/NS-138). Park/trail head at N39 15’01 W120 05’17

Hike stats:  2.3 miles roundtrip and 400′ of ascent up to 7,740′, walk on dirt road and semi-exposed treed summit.

I’m ahead of schedule. This is great as I’ve previously planned three summits in a day, I’ve come close to a activating three summits in a day but a lack of day light and a lack of energy have meant I have only ever activated two of the planned three. So this looks promising and getting up at zero dark thirty has some benefits!

As I am sure you can imagine a fair amount of preparation goes into planning activations. The first challenge in California is deciding which of seven trillion peaks you want to activate. I know it sounds easy but it isn’t as one eight pointer can involve a hike from hell, bushwhacking your way from nowhere to desolation while another involves an easy drive, a wander up a pristine trail for a mile or so to the most beautiful view around. Eric KU6J takes a ton of credit for helping me select these five peaks as he has activated extensively in this area and readily offered up ideas and suggestions. Eric described W6/NS-189 as an “ugly duckling” compared to Pluto and Watson.

And so it was that I set off in search of this ugly duckling. The search starts along a logging road that is really easy to follow until it abruptly vanishes into a veritable obstacle course of fallen trees, stumps, pot holes, gopher holes and just tons of stuff placed explicitly to trip me up. My eyes dart back and forth from the GPS in hand to the ground below my feet. My gait is an odd mixture of a giant’s stride and a dance across the last third of a mile of this hike on this rather awkward terrain.

I’m beginning to sense why Eric described this as an ugly duckling as the peak is simply more of the obstacle course with very limited views. I plant my antenna mast and string the end fed out along the line of an enormous fallen tree. It’s hard to find a place to sit without impaling myself on something and finally I squeeze onto a patch of ground wondering what creepy crawlies might wander out and see who is disturbing their peace.

The peak of the "ugly duckling"
The peak of the “ugly duckling”
View from my operating location
View from my operating location
W6/NS-189 trail in yellow and AZ in red
W6/NS-189 trail in yellow and AZ in red
NS-189 profile
NS-189 profile. About 2.3 miles round trip and 400ft of ascent
Time Call Band Mode Notes
20:36z W6JMP 7MHz SSB 58 tx 44 rx
20:39z KJ6NHF 7MHz SSB 57 tx 57 rx
20:39z KG5EIU 7MHz SSB 56 tx 55 rx
20:40z NG6R 7MHz SSB 57 tx 53 rx
20:40z WA7SB 7MHz SSB 57 tx 55 rx
20:41z KD6AGW 7MHz SSB 57 tx 49 rx
20:42z KC5CW 7MHz SSB 57 rx 57 tx
20:44z W0MNA 14MHz SSB 45 tx 45 rx
20:46z K7HLN 14MHz SSB 57 tx 42 rx
20:47z W7RV 14MHz SSB 34 tx 52 rx
20:47z N4EX 14MHz SSB 55 tx 34 rx
20:48z W0ERI 14MHz SSB 45 tx 45 rx
20:50z K7HLN 14MHz SSB 55 rx 55 tx

I hiked 9.5 miles round trip with 2,300 ft of ascent to activate these three peaks for a total of 24 points. All in all this has been a great day and my first hat trick of activations.

Part of my success today has to be due to the meal I had the night before in Truckee….

I fortified myself with this the night before in Truckee. A combination of high art and wishful thinking for this winter!!
I fortified myself with this the night before in Truckee. A combination of high art and wishful thinking for this winter!!


  1. ‘seven trillion peaks’, VK1 has 48 😦 Great write up Paul, like the ‘snowman’ ice-cream, is that a beer nearby? Not an east summit, plenty of fallen timber and other obstacles to navigate over and around.


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