Speedway and Kratka Ridge, March 4, 2016

NPOTA Entity: N/A

SOTA summit: Kratka Ridge W6/CT-014

Activation Date: March 4th, 2016

Portable operation: Yes

Hike in: Yes

Solo hike: Yes

ATT Coverage: Good to great at Ridge

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2016

Distance, elevation etc at: Kratka Ridge, Sept 2015

They come in groups of two or three with the lead setting the pace and the followers maintaining precise distance creating the impression of a roller coaster. Maybe familiarity has bred contempt as one momentarily drifts across the divide line only to correct as quickly. This closeness is an unspoken acknowledgment that the pack have all willingly traded time for safety. After leaving sixty plus miles of LA freeway and entering the San Gabriel Mountains I had expected a bucolic drive but what I found was a speedway that is the Angeles Crest Highway. If it weren’t for the rock slide and closure I wouldn’t have entered from this end but here I was driving a twisting road into the headlights of frustrated commuters.

Go two hundred miles north, south or east of San Francisco and you’ll find many gentle peaks, all beautiful and every bit SOTA but now I’m in Southern California and the draw of eight or nine thousand foot peaks is real. Maybe its a points thing, maybe just a desire to get out somewhere sub alpine and I’m on the trail soon after getting back. When you are between and betwixt winter and spring some parts of the trail can be bone dry and then you turn onto a north facing section and suddenly its icy, slippery and treacherous. With this mind and it being a solo hike, I elect for the semi-familiar and decide Krakta Ridge and Waterman are good goals for a day. Combined, the ascent is almost two thousand feet and distance around nine miles.

The silence is broken by a hoot and a peck and maybe the owl misses the woodpecker or the woodpecker wants the last word. The trail loops back on itself and passed under what I imagine is a long abandoned chair lift and then turns once more and deposits me at Kratka Ridge.

Hasn’t moved in years!

I’m rather pleased with how the tripod works with the J Pole and like the fact the ball head can compensate for my failings at matching the legs to the terrain.

2M FM is a hidden joy for So Cal SOTA activators in that you can easily get five, ten or more chasers pretty quickly. I always want to know where each is and today I’m impressed my little five watt signal has made it to Roy (KR6RG) in San Diego, 133 miles away!!

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My record so far…..133 mile 2m FM QSO @ 5 watts with Roy (KR6RG)


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AlexLoop mounted on Gitzo carbon fiber tripod

Next up is the AlexLoop and after happily working my chasers both new and loyal to my pleasant surprise I hear Phil (G4OBK) and am ecstatic when he acknowledges my call sign and offers a report. 17m is doing great today and my little 12 watt signal is being heard 6,000 miles away in frosty and snow covered York, England!

Just after getting everything stowed away in my pack which I assure you is always easier at home than in the wilderness I look up and stare across the vista. Uhhhm, that is a plume of smoke that appears to be emanating from within the same wooded wilderness that I’m in. We have horrible wildfires in California and so I rapidly determine its on a bearing of 121 degrees, roughly seven miles away and punch 911 into my cell phone. Saying and then spelling Kratka Ridge doesn’t lend itself to immediate comprehension. This is potentially very serious and patience is clearly required especially when I’m then asked what is the nearest city…..I respond I’m in the middle of nowhere….feeling somewhat ill equipped on Southland geography I say “maybe Los Angeles, that’s big and well, near by”. I realize these are procedural questions and all is good but I’m not sure how the line of questioning would have evolved if I were in for example Death Valley. Eventually I’m connected with the LA Fire Dept and dutifully describe the proximity of the plume and she rattles off a few canyon names with controlled burns happening today. Hopefully panic is averted and the plume is one of the planned ones. I feel a responsible citizen and feel somewhat safer as I start the descent down to my car.








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