A Pipeline to Washington

NPOTA Entity: N/A

SOTA summit: Throop W6/CT-005 & Baden Powell W6/CT-004

Activation Date: July 19th 2016

Portable operation: Yes

Radio: Elecraft KX2 operating at 10 watts and Yaesu VX8R at 5 watts

Antenna: LNR Trail Friendly end fed 40-10m and 2m J Pole

Bands used: 20m (BP) and 2m (throop)

Furthest QSO: ~1,000 to Pacific NorthWest using SSB at 10 watts

Hike in: Yes, 11 miles round trip and 4,000 ft ascent from Dawson Saddle on Angeles Crest Hwy

Solo operation: No, with Mike KX6A

Recommend: Absolutely!! Incredible views, somewhat strenuous, easy to follow PCT trail.

ATT Coverage: Great on desert (east) side

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2016

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Excellent hike especially ridge from Throop (CT-005) to BP (CT-004)
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Left is Dawson Saddle, middle is Throop Peak and right BP; ~4,000 ft ascent and ~11 miles r/t

The ridge runs almost east west and the early morning sky bereft of dust reveals mountains in the lower reaches of Death Valley and and the Mojave, all a hundred miles or so away.

Looking north toward Death Valley

Looking south west the Pacific stands in contrast and bounds a swath of land that seems greener and lusher. Its part allusion but it is partially tree covered and definitely not desert. All in all east and west are are quite beautiful and this has the promise of being a memorable hike. We are on a trail that runs from Throop to Baden Powell.

Looking south west toward the Pacific and southern LA Basin

The San Gabriel’s seem to be replete  with peaks named after luminaries and hopefully Baden Powell needs no introduction especially if  you were a Scout but Throop is a new one to me. While MIT has the name recognition, Caltech, home to JPL is equally credible and so we have Throop to thank for this as he founded Caltech.

Throop was the founder of Cal Tech, the west’s answer to MIT and home of JPL

The hike up from Dawson Saddle is a gentler ascent to these two peaks than my earlier journey last November to just Baden Powell which was a steep set of switch backs and makes this 11 mile and 4,000 feet ascent adventure all the more pleasurable.

Mike (KX6A), the new SOTA king of CW (morse code)

Mike is feeling good as Throop is his second and possibly most arduous CW (morse code) activation. He has worked hard over the last few months to reach this point and I’m impressed. As the solar cycle declines CW has the distinct edge over voice contacts that I’m currently locked into. While I console myself with the truly held belief that hearing the person’s voice adds to the human aspect of the contact, I agree that CW is a cool method; its efficient and I love things that previous generation have discovered that remain effective and unsurpassed in many respects today. Its a bit like paper…. its a remarkable medium for recording information, intuitive to use, easy to archive, easy to share and while computers are great, try drawing a picture on one. So old is sometimes still great!

Withered sentry stands guard on the trail

I’m working on perfecting my 2m FM station and attendant skills and so I activate Throop with just a 2m handheld 5 watt rig along with a J-pole antenna hanging from my carbon fiber fishing rod. I nab about 10 contacts north, south, east and west and then take time to admire the view from Throop while Mike does CW. Sometimes activation and especially two or three in a row are a rush and you can miss out on the bigger picture of what a peak has to offer. Looking far and wide today is time well spent.

Throop – just a 2m activation for me using this J Pole hanging from my fishing rod

The trail dips down and we are losing hundreds of feet. We pass to the east of a peak (Burnham) that is to be “bagged” on our return journey. We head up and up again and see glimpses of other peaks known and less known. Iron Mountain has a reputation as tough but is lost and overshadowed by Baldy (aka San Antonio).

Like so many before us we grow impatient of the final round about ascent to BP and scramble up the side and happily discover a “use trail” that those who tired before us have created.

20m SSB voice is just incredible into the Pacific North West about a 1,000 miles north and its as good as a phone connection. This is rare and to be enjoyed. Its fun to have chasers whom you have met in person and Phil NS7p and Darryl WW7D are two such chasers and I take a little longer to chat with them and savor this “pipeline to Washington”. No politics in this pipeline.

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Phil NS7P on right – top ranked SOTA chaser and activator
Darryl (WW7D) on left and Etienne (K7ATN) on right (W7W and W7O AMs respectively)
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Funky HF propagation – crystal clear on 20m to Pacific North West ….dead everywhere else!

“Self” and “Others” stands out on the monument to BP. Summed up these are about developing yourself to your fullest potential and others is about contributing in a positive way to society or community. Great values to heed daily and guide us on our short and hopefuly incredible arc that is life. I like these a lot and I’m glad I was a scout in London.

Self and Others – part of Scout credo


Old Glory atop Mt Baden Powell – Notch on right is Mt Baldy (highest point in San Gabriels)





  1. Another great adventure description. It must be fun to meet some of the chasers. Have you experienced any interaction between your carbon fiber fishing pole and your antenna?
    Terry K6MA


  2. No obvious interaction between the mast and any antenna.

    To make thinks even more inexplicable relative to the mast I have started deploying the end fed in an inverted L configuration with part running along mast and feed point near ground. Easy to setup and seems to work fine despite conventional wisdom!


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