Activation Date: October 21, 2015
ATT Data Coverage: Excellent
ATT Voice coverage: Not sure but presumed to be excellent
APRS Coverage: Not sure
Access: Park/trail head at N39 20.628 W120 16.083
Hike stats: 2.3 miles roundtrip and 600′ of ascent up to 7,825′, walk on exposed dirt trail and an exposed summit.
Flush from my hat trick the day before I rewarded myself and slept in. Once up and by the time I had consumed far too much coffee dawn had broken and pulling back the hotel room curtains I was stunned by the view. Donner Lake was shrouded in a foggy mist in such contrast to the blue skies and sun drenched vista the day before. I stepped into the frigid air and snapped away with my iPhone.
It wasn’t long before my artistic euphoria was dampened by the realization that Donner Ridge might well be blanketed in a freezing mist hovering in the 30s. Easy to get lost in and cold to boot, simply charming! But I had a schedule to keep and the explorer in me mustered enough motivation to pack up and head for the first of two planned activations.
This immediate area is seeped in California history. The story of the transcontinental railroad is epic and integrally associated with opening up the West in late 1860s. The train track skirts high above the south shore of Donner lake and is typical of the engineering success of crossing the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
But the sadder story and the name sake for this area were the Donner party. Early pioneers heading west before trains in 1847 they became stranded in this immediate area by an early season snow fall that blocked progress forward and a retreat back toward modern day Reno. I’ll let the curious read up on the details but half the 87 person party died under very tough and not to be repeated unique circumstances.
Fortune favors the brave and as I drove out of the Donner Lake area and toward the Ridge the first signs of sunshine and blue sky successfully wrestling with the fog become apparent. I drive further west through neighborhoods of ever larger pine homes higher and higher within Truckee all seemingly vying for the best view of the mountains. Eventually I park at a very well maintained trail head car park and start down a beautifully manicured and pristine trail. Oddly the network of trails left and right have numbers like 18A, 22 and 21A, if only I had the decoder ringer I might know what all this meant but I ignore them and follow my Garmin trail. The sky is blue and the ambient temperature is somewhere in the 30s. The trail becomes steeper and its clear I’m heading toward a summit. Fortunately it’s the summit I want and its a really beautiful spot. 360 degrees of mountain views worth every bit of the modest exertion I made to get here as this is the easiest and prettiest hike of the five I undertook.
Its cold and the wind has picked up which spurs me into action. All my activations have a certain repetitive pattern which I suspect is common amongst activators and in my case starts with setting up my antenna. As I pull out the first two and thinnest shafts of my carbon fibre mast I hear a snap. I look down in disbelief muttering that my mast didn’t really just snap. I look longer thinking that this can’t be right but it is. In a moment of panic I think its game over. Hike out, drive home, failure! I’ve just witnessed first hand the brittleness of carbon fibre at low temperatures. I really don’t want this to be it and in a flash of inspiration I decide to wrap a couple of 12″ orange gummy cords around the now separate shafts. There is a frictionless and sticky quality to them which gives me some confidence this may work but my expectation are low. I string up the end fed antenna and pull it toward the radio. I’m on the air; one QSO and it holds, two QSOs and it holds, three and so on all the way through to eleven. Success!!
|15:57z||NG6R||7MHz||SSB||57 TX and 53 RX|
|15:59z||K6EL||7MHz||SSB||47 TX and 33 RX|
|15:59z||W7RV||7MHz||SSB||56 TX an 33 RX|
|16:01z||K6HPX||7MHz||SSB||57 TX and 51 RX|
|16:02z||AA7DKK||7MHz||SSB||58 TX and 45 RX|
|16:03z||NA6MG||7MHz||SSB||47 TX and 44 RX|
|16:07z||VE6AO||14MHz||SSB||58 TX and 58 RX|
|16:08z||W0MNA||14MHz||SSB||36 TX and 33 RX|
|16:08z||W0ERI||14MHz||SSB||46 TX and 33 RX|
|16:09z||KA5PVB||14MHz||SSB||46 TX and 33 RX|
|16:13z||W7CNL||7MHz||SSB||46 TX and 55 RX|