Sunset Peak (W6/CT-022)

NPOTA Entity: N/A

SOTA summit: W6/CT-022

Activation Date: Jan 28, 2016

Portable operation: Yes

Hike in: Yes

Solo hike: With Scott AK6Q

ATT Coverage: Variable

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2016

Trail details: 7 miles round trip and approximately 1300 ft of ascent. Partially covered trail to exposed summit.

The corrugated iron, dulled with rust had a patchwork of color that seemed to match the surrounding dirt perfectly. Parts of its frame were broken, some charred from a fire long ago, while others struggled to hold the metal at an angle to ensure gravity won. At one end a pipe ran under a large rusted lid that had been reshaped by something large and violent. This unwanted and forgotten collection of metal looked out of place and now a reminder to someone’s desire to collect water on this San Gabriel peak.

Behind us, Baldy dominates the skyline and its snow cap looks gentle and inviting on this warm day but we know better than to accept the invite. Sunset Peak is wide and flat, the sunny winter skies offer clear views all the way north to the Santa Monica mountains and all the way south to the San Jacinto mountains.

Scott and I probe edges of the peak, looking for the perfect combination of stellar cellular and unimpeded access to our chasers.

Today I must redeem myself for poor past performance with a flimsy rubber ducky. I’ve heard people calling but no one seems to hear me and so today I have come equipped with a man sized 2m J Pole that I intend to deploy long before the ionosphere is bending my  conversation with a chaser.  Buddipole and surplus PVC pipe parts have been requisitioned to make this behemoth. Its up quickly and I admire my handy work with pride. This is like a fleet class carrier while my ducky is an oiler.  The acid test is Charles, KM6CEM as he lives tucked in to the edge of mountains.

Champion of the day – 2m J pole

Success, the reports are great and warrant the effort. In my excitement, I wave to a few chasers but despite miles of clear visibility its all for naught. This is going well, very well and I’ve activated the peak and more using just FM and my hand held. I’m redeemed, three cheers for the J pole!

Meanwhile, things hadn’t gone quite so well for Scott. The location was good, the antenna was up, he was pumped but his batteries were de-pumped, as in drained, flat, kaput. With the mantra “no man left behind” I lend Scott my battery and he is happily off to the races. While signal reports emanate from Scotts corner and feeling I might have exhausted my 2m chasers its time to see if the AlexLoop truly is a winner. Despite its volumetric disadvantage its been invited along again. Between it and the J Pole my small pack was bulging at the seems.

Scott working the airwaves with Baldy atop

Slowly and at a more measured pace than the Santa Monica NPOTA/SOTA activation, the reports are coming in. But it still seems a fiddly little antenna that wants to be re-tuned far too often and I feel obligated to pander to its whims especially on 40m where it is so stunningly inefficient I’m surprised but super thankful that Thomas W7RV can hear me.

AlexLoop with water catcher center left and Santa Ana Mtns in distance

We are packed, descending the mountain but my silouhette looks odd. Maybe the angle of sun creates the illusion that my pack is far down on my back. In the corner of my eye I see  Scott taking a picture and its revealed that I am transformed into a tinker. Cable hanging here, plumbing pipe there and my jacket dangling nonchalantly from a strap. Packing in is easy but the desire to get off the mountain cuts corners and I’m paying the price now as my hands are employed to catch and stabilize my movable hardware store.

These mountains have a long history of mining and across the valley is a road that leads to a tungsten mine that appears at some level to be active. Scott, who has an interest in mining explains different aspects of geological structure and minerals with the all important possible tell tell signs of gold.

Looking north into San Gabriels. Road in center heads to Tungsten mine

We enjoyed our co-activation and talked about other places to visit in the future.

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  1. In addition to the excellent photographs we are receiving real antenna reports from the field. This is valuable information as it tells what it is like in “real life’ and not just a bunch of specs and marketing jibberish. Always enjoy your reporting Paul, keep up these great adventures.
    BTW which J-Pole antenna were you using?


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