Day Two in New Mexico; Cerro Pelon and Lobato Mesa

NPOTA Entity: N/A

SOTA summit: Cerro Pelon W5N/SE-025 and Lobato Mesa W5N/SE-031

Activation Date: May 10, 2016

Portable operation: Yes using home brew battery pack (K1JD’s design)

Radio: Elecraft KX3 operating at 12-15 watts

Antenna: Home brew End Fed on 20m & 40m

Bands used: 40m and 20m

Furthest QSO: 1,000 miles with W7CAR using SSB at 15 watts

Hike in: Yes

Solo operation: No, with Fred Maas  (WS0TA) and John de Primo (K1JD)

ATT Coverage: Passable on Cerro Pelon and  and Lobato

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2016

Santa Fe is really a beautiful city seeped in history, a distinctive architectural style and a thriving community that has begat restaurants, museums and shops. The early morning mountain air is surprisingly crisp for May and the blue cloudless sky adds to the sense of cold. The streets are devoid of people and I get to window shop while searching for coffee and breakfast. The South Western style  from classic John Wayne to Native American seems to pervade shops and galleries with equal vigor. I stand in front of a closed Lucchese boot store and maybe its fortunate as some look very cool, highly unneeded but beckoning to be tried on. I pass a sign that declares “Original Route, Santa Fe Trail” and I wonder if an imposter is nearby. Sitting and sipping coffee the bells of the Cathedral of St Francis of Assisi snap me back into the here and now and I amble back to the hotel skirting the O’Keefe museum that I had enjoyed two years ago.

Today’s adventure will take us to two peaks north east of Santa Fe and offer a distinctively different view of local terrain. Fred’s been great about picking peaks for this three day visit that provide a real sense of the diversity in this part of the Land of Enchantment.

The off road drive to Cerro Pellon changes from groomed forest road to rocky terrain and is a great opportunity to see first hand how an Xterra operates off road. So far I’m impressed.

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Cerro and Lobato, NE of Santa Fe. Can you see the “volcano”, Valles Caldera?

We stop on the route up and look into what is described as Georgia O’Keefe country. Somewhere in the distant foreground flows the Rio Grande that has laid bare red and sandy colored strata. On the horizon we catch a glimpse of snow capped peaks in Colorado and flanking the left is a prominent mesa that we have seen transform itself from a long mesa to a prickly peak as we have journeyed around the forest to reach this point. “We can activate the mesa tomorrow Paul” say’s Fred “but its only 6 points”. I opt for our  three 8 pointers and I think I hear a round of applause for my decision.

Looking north toward Colorado across Georgia O’Keefe country

Propagation isn’t so friendly or maybe everyone is having an early lunch as I only manage to bag 8 contacts in twenty minutes. Packed up we are off to the second activation of the day that has us traversing a hidden valley where cows graze and you get a real sense of the remoteness of cattle ranching as it probably was 150 years ago when New Mexico was being settled for the second or third time.

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Across the Hidden Valley is Cerro Pelon on left

Lobato Mesa has been ravaged by fires and we walk through what looks like something from a battle field with charred tree stumps, fallen trees, lonely trunks denuded of foliage and debris across our path that we gingerly step over. The upside is this makes for easy deployment of a wire end fed and the propagation gods seem more supportive as I bag 14 or so contacts including a summit to summit with Oregon and Canada; very cool indeed! A few rain drops begin to show up and its time to move on which we do and back to John’s house where we are all treated to burgers, stories, whiskey and all in all a very wonderful time. As John drives me back to my hotel, I reflect and know I am a lucky man. Fred and John are fabulous hosts! Day two was great and I go to bed wondering how day three could be better which it is.

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