SOTA summit: Gilbert W6/ND-026
Activation Date: July 8, 2017
Portable operation: Yes
Radio: Elecraft KX2 at 10 watts
Antenna: LNR endfed
Bands used: 20m and 40m
Furthest QSO: ~1,300 mile with K5KTD
Hike in: Yes, ~1 mile roundtrip and 200 ft ascent
GaiaPro track: From a parking spot on Forest trail 28E209 Click here
Solo operation: No, with Rico
I’ve been here before. The exact same parking spot and the exact same false summit. Two years earlier I had driven in from the north-west having lost my intended route and driven over what at times seem like garden paths designed more for walking than driving. This time I have come in from the south over what was clearly a much better route.
Better aware, armed with a friend and two years of experience under my belt its an easy jaunt down from the false summit and over toward the real Gilbert. It’s a hot July afternoon, 90+ degrees fahrenheit and activation number four for the day. Walking through the forest just east of Mammoth airport I have low expectations for the hike and the view. Gilbert is clearly just a little bump in an endless sea of pine trees. Scrambling up and right, we crest Gilbert Peak and I’m momentarily stunned by the view. Looking down Long Valley caldera toward Lake Crawley, I see the snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains to my right, the White Mountains ahead and to my left Glass Mountain my favorite pile of obsidian that defines this 20 mile long caldera (volcano month). I’ve just found a new favorite SOTA destination!
I often wonder how a peak acquired its name. Lookout Mountain is a popular one in the west, some are old Native American names such as Piute while others are tied to our Spanish heritage honoring saints. Missing the San, we can safely assume this Gilbert wasn’t the saint. Maybe its mining related but those seem to be of the ilk Last Chance Mountain or something equally desperate. Question answered as someone has been very thoughtful and left a large sign in honor of Charles Gilbert a UC Berkeley Geology professor who worked extensively to understand this caldera in the 1930s.
The sense of closure on finally righting my failed activation two years later was very satisfying and the reaffirmation that a stunning view can be lurking at the top of a forest bump made this jaunt onto Gilbert more than worth while.