Having a heat wave, escape to Saddle Mountain

NPOTA Entity: N/A

SOTA summit: W7O/NC-004

Activation Date: June 5th, 2016

Portable operation: Yes

Radio: Elecraft KX2 operating at 10 watts

Antenna: LNR Trail Friendly end fed 40-20m

Bands used: 40m, 20m

Furthest QSO: ~2,400 miles with N1EU in NY using SSB at 10 watts

Hike in: Yes

Solo operation: No, with Guy N7UN

Recommend: Yes. Great views, not too strenuous and easy to follow pretty trail

ATT Coverage: Great

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2016

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Saddle Mountain in Oregon

The high is predicated to be around 100F. For a city and a state that is more famous for its endless rainy days this is a big deal. In reaction the citizens of Portland, Oregon are literally heading for the hills in search of cooler temperatures. And so it should come as no surprise to me that the trail is crowded with families, couples and dogs of all shapes and sizes. I feel for the dogs; each small rise in the trail is probably like a boulder to us. Caring owners douse some in water and so the fluffy family pet looks bedraggled as they scamper higher and higher.

The trail starts in a grove of alders that are densely packed and look slender and elegant. The rains dictate that the trail be carpeted in places with chicken wire to stop its rocky surface disappearing in a storm. A break in the forest offers views that show Oregon in its glory.

Alder trees look distinct and different than my Cal trail experiences
Chicken wire to protect trail during rainstorm

Trees, mountains, more trees and more mountains all seemingly green are seen for tens of miles in each direction. Clear cutting, the harvesting of trees is evident in many places and breaks the uniformity of nature and reminds me of our desire as humans to use and shape the planet the way we see fit both good and bad.

Grey patches are “clear cut” areas

The trail dips down toward a saddle and the forest is now behind us and we are fully in the sun as we ascend the last part of the trail to the peak. Its steep, quite steep, it’s hot and I somehow wish the peak was 13,283 ft rather than the 3,283 ft it is.

Saddle Mountain – trails goes down and then to left of peak (quite steep!!)

The honor of my first KX2 contact goes to Ken, K6HPX in AZ on 20m but what made this all the more memorable is I also had a 40m contact with Ken 20 minutes later. The radio propagation gurus would rightly point out that 20m and 40m contacts minutes apart  out 1,000 miles is very unusual and to my oft shared point this is the kind of thing that makes radios magically, unpredictable and fun.

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Two unusual contacts with Ken K6HPX; 1,200 miles on 20m and 40m within 20 minutes
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Furthest contact is with N1EU in NY

“Can you see Mt St Helens” asks another hiker whose made it to the peak. I look at the horizon searching left and right. “No, no ….ah, I see it”, it’s snow covered sides faintly silhouetted against the sky. “Can you see Mt Adams?”  And so I look again and find another volcanic hero and close out my journey through North Western volcanos and find Mt Rainier which is tomorrows destination.

View from Saddle Mountain Peak
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Blow up of panorama…Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens and Mt Adams on horizon

We head down and back toward the car and a journey that will take us over the mouth of the Columbia River and an NPOTA activation of Dismal Nitch, a place that Lewis and Clarke were stranded for six days during a storm. For use it wast dismal but really quite a picturesque spot and fun.

Guy, N7UN has picked two great activation locations and its fun to be with him. He’s very fit and an excellent hiker.

Thanks Guy, fun day!!






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