Frigid Timber (W6/CT-052) …an early November jaunt in the San Gabriel Mountains, CA

Summit: W6/CT-052

Activation Date: November 4, 2015

ATT Data Coverage: Spotty

ATT Voice coverage: Not sure but presumed to be spotty

APRS Coverage: Not sure

Access: Park/trail head at N34 15 00 W117 38 19

Hike stats:  9.4 miles roundtrip and 3,500′ of ascent up to 8,303′, walk on forested trail to treed/exposed summit.

Dawn is breaking to the east and silhouettes the ragged edge of the clouds that hang across the San Gabriel’s. It’s not quite what  I wanted and I squint to try and see how grey they are but its too early to tell. The drive into the mountains is a stark transition from the busy freeways I just left behind. I pass an empty reservoir, a reminder of man’s effort to control nature. Baldy Village looks welcoming as its now become apparent that the clouds wrap around and embrace the peaks. A mile beyond I reach an empty parking lot and for some inexplicable reason my first spot won’t do and so I park in another. It’s really no different but I’m happier. The sun rises soon but I’m not sure it will make much difference as Icehouse Canyon is steep and narrow and it will be hours before it’s bathed in bright light.

The sound of the car door locking is a reminder that the outdoor adventure has begun and I have traded warmth for frigid morning air hovering in the mid 30s. The first mile is dotted with log cabins and small dwellings all boarded up and it’s not clear if they await winter and occupants or have just bid goodbye to summer residents. The trail weaves its way around boulders, over soggy patches of ground and eventually settles into something that is recognizable which begins to gain elevation.

My first glimpse of Icehouse Saddle shows promising signs of blue sky with only a few wisps of clouds. As I close on the three mile mark I have traded the prospect of clouds above me for snow and ice below. It had rained a few days early in So Cal and hence my interest in all things cloud during the drive in. Some of the rain had become snow. Not very deep, maybe half an inch and really quite beautiful but irrefutably something that required more vigilance. The temperature has dropped and I bundle into my down vest. The Saddle has snow everywhere and I settle within the base of a tree and eat a sandwich.

Icehouse Saddle with Timber Trail on left (third way up from bottom)
Icehouse Saddle with Timber Trail on left (third way up from bottom)

Its probably only a mile and 500 ft up to Timber but somewhere I lose the trail and debate bushwhacking over the white ground. Sanity prevails and I backtrack and find an obvious sharp turn I had missed and take it with renewed confidence. Pines trees flank the trail and dangle pine nettles covered in ice that reminds me of sliced cucumber.

Cucumber slices!
Cucumber slices!

The trail heads on to Thunder and Telegraph but I take a right and head on a spur to Timber. A ring of frosted trees defines and defends the peak that look inhospitable and inviting at the same time.

Guarding the peak
Guarding the peak
Timber operating location
Timber operating location

The activation zone is quite beautiful and I survey it looking for an operating place and where to plant my antenna. Today my antenna system doesn’t want to cooperate. The mast was up, the end fed was strung out to the hiking poles only to see the mast fall down and once re-erect the hiking poles follow suite and tumble down. Round and round I go with this frustrating dance until everything decided to cooperate. The wind has picked up and the grey clouds have magically reappeared and test the warmth of my clothing. Cell coverage is fickle and once I’m sitting down and ready to operate the signal disappears. The little icon swirls around on SOTA Goat trying to get my spot out. I stand up, move here and there and finally my spot is out and I’m in business.

Looking down Icehouse Canyon
Looking down Icehouse Canyon
Trail up Icehouse Canyon to Mt Timber W6/CT-052. Red is AZ
Trail up Icehouse Canyon to Mt Timber W6/CT-052. Red is AZ
Elevation profile Icehouse Canyon to Mt Timber W6/Ct-052
Elevation profile Icehouse Canyon to Mt Timber W6/CT-052
Time Call Band Mode Notes
17:34z W7RV 7MHz SSB 58 TX and 54 RX
17:38z NK6A 7MHz SSB 56 TX and 56 RX
17:39z W7USA 7MHz SSB 56 TX and 55 RX
17:39z K7ZO 7MHz SSB 57 TX and 54 RX
17:39z NG6R 7MHz SSB 58 TX and 59 RX
17:39z KG5EIU 7MHz SSB 57 TX and 55 RX
17:40z K6TUY 7MHz SSB 57 TX and 58 RX
17:41z AE9F 14MHz SSB 46 TX and 57 RX
17:42z W0MNA 14MHz SSB 57 TX and 55 RX
17:43z W0ERI 14MHz SSB 57 TX and 56 RX
17:46z AE5AU 14MHz SSB 45 TX and 45 RX
17:47z K6WFV 7MHz SSB 56 TX and 53 RX
17:50z N1GB 14MHz SSB 46 TX and 44 RX
17:51z K5PVB 14MHz SSB 53 TX and 33 RX
18:03z KB6CIO 144MHz FM 59 TX and 33 RX


  1. Looks like winter has arrived in our mountains! If not too much snow I think I’ll go for Waterman in December to get the 3 winter points….already got 8 points for the summer hike. I need to order some wool hiking pants. 73 Hal n6jzt


  2. Very interesting activation. Didn’t expect too match snow at the beginning of November. As about n6jzt comment – I will not suggest to order wool hiking pants, because they are not waterproof. Instead – ski pants. 73! Oleh KD7WPJ


  3. Thanks for being my first contact as a SOTA chaser. I hope to start activating soon! I was portable during my lunch break for our contact.

    Luke – AE5AU


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