Imposters and persistance, Pt Peyes Feb 9, 2016

NPOTA Entity: Point Reyes National Seashore  SS10

SOTA summit: Pt Reyes Hill W6/CC-071 

Activation Date: February 9th, 2016

Portable operation: Yes

Hike in: Yes

Solo hike: Yes

ATT Coverage: None at Pt Reyes Hill and great by visitor centre (2nd operating location)

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 8.34.20 AM
Pt Reyes Seashore just north of San Francisco, CA

Pt Reyes Seashore is a rugged area with amongst other things a history of dairy farming started in the late 1800s but the story I love is the one of Sir Francis Drake, privateer (that wonderful English term for a crown sponsored pirate) who landed on the south shore of Pt Reyes to resupply and rest. The twist to all of this is that he like so many others sailed past a fog shrouded Golden Gate and was completely unawares of one of the world’s best natural harbor that is San Francisco. Had there been no fog, our west coast history may have been quite different!

Drake’s Bay – he landed near the cliffs top of picture (photo 2006)
Western edge of Pt Reyes Seashore looking north from lighthouse (photo 2006)
South of lighthouse, elephant seals on lower beach (photo 2006)


The west side of Tamales Bay is an enchanting mixture of trees, launch points, houses and vistas of this narrow ten mile long bay that leads into the Pacific. I’ve been here many times, to kayak on the bay, enjoy a break from work  but this is my first ever radio adventure. The road climbs into the gentle hills and quickly doubles back on itself and I’m heading south again only to be arrested by a chain link that is my cue to park and hike to Pt Reyes hill.

I’m always amazed and where I do and don’t find cell coverage. Deep into the wilderness of Death Valley in a bowl that is Racetrack I find cell coverage…how can that be and today I have none on Pt Reyes Hill despite being not far from millions of people. The picnic bench that Ron (W6PZA) and Doc (K7SO) had tipped me off to was a welcome operating location that offered beautiful views west including Drake’s landing point.

KX3, old school paper logs at Pt Reyes Hill. Drake’s cliff top of picture

I have the 40/20/10 end fed up and after a flurry of 20 or so contacts at a reasonable clip things seem to dry up and the last few QSOs have been hard.

Visitor centers are always fun. I enjoy learning more about the park I’m in, getting my park stamp and possibly a little shopping. The mug looked different, felt more clunky and I was quite inclined to not purchase it but I did as I didn’t want to break the run in park mug acquisition I had started. It wasn’t until I got home and realized its an impostor…not a Deneen Pottery item that is mine form Mojave, Santa Monica etc but a Sunset Hill. I guess the NP Service is making good use of competitive capitalism!!

The Imposter
Not a Deneen Pottery like my other mugs. Competitive capitalism in play

Walking out of the visitor center the picnic benches seem to suggest radio operations and coupled with a nagging feeling that I could do better than 31 QSOs for an NPOTA activation I decided to trade the end fed for my AlexLoop and give 15m and 17m a try. No sooner was the decision made but a school bus disgorged scads of children who rapidly enveloped and occupied all the picnic benches. Hey one of those it mine!! Anyway,  not to be deterred, I setup nearby on a bit of grass and was rewarded with another 60+ QSOs all across the US and Canada all reconfirming my newfound belief in the AlexLoop, the power of propagation on 12 watts and that tenacity pays off as I’m much further along in my quest to get Worked All States (WAS)  for the Bay Area Parks using a portable 12 watt SSB station.

AlexLoop deployed after I lost the race for a picnic bench at the visitor center

A fun day, a rewarding day and I look forward to my next field radio adventure.








  1. Paul, Nice report. A little distance from the throngs and you are in some of the most beautiful country on the planet. I couldn’t help but notice your camp chair. I’ve been looking for one like that but unable to find one I like…any recommendations?


  2. Paul, thanks for the nice write up on Pt. Reyes. The picnic bench at the top of Pt Reyes Hill is one of the nicest operating stations ever. Another nice one, although not a summit is on the Abbots Lagoon Trail. Just before you get to the bridge leading to the beach take a left and climb a short way up hill. No picnic bench but wonderful views.


  3. Outstanding account of your activation Paul, and I was pleased to be one of your outside the USA contacts on that day.

    All the best
    Cayman Islands.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As usual great coverage of the National Park with great photos and interesting narrative. I am pleased to learn that the Alex loop really performs. Might have to purchase one, although I really like to make my own antennas.


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