SOTA summit: Cowtrack Mountain W6/ND-019
Activation Date: May 18, 2020
Unique: Yes, 191st and 234th activation and 1st time activation
Call sign used: W6PNG
Portable operation: Yes
Antennas: LNR 40/20/10 Trail friends end fed
Band/Modes used: 20m/40m, 10w SSB (voice)
- Complete escape from Corvid-19 news etc
- Great to hear so many familiar operators after a short US operating hiatus
- Fred (KT5X, aka WS0TA) broke out his mic for me for second time in a day!
Pack weight: Approximately 12 lbs
Drive: Leave Highway 120 at 37.900, -118.845 and drive ~7 miles on sandy dirt track. High clearance 4×4 recommended to get traction on “slippery” uphill sandy sections. Easy drive, not technical.
Hike: Drive up with short 5 minute hike to peak
Hike and AZ profile:
- Peak is surprisingly a flat sandy “beach”
- Unique views of Mono Lake
- Broad flat AZ with short gnarly trees offering small mast support points
Recommend: Yes and easy drive up with a 4×4 and high clearance
Solo operation: No with Rico M
Cell Coverage: ATT excellent
Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2020
Mono Lake has near biblical status in California.
Despite being over 200 miles east of the Pacific, it is a breading area for seagulls which are an odd sight to see flying above the desert. It has strange limestone towers emerging from its waterline that has drawn photographers over and over again and if you can get beyond the stench of the beach bobbing around in a kayak is made all the easier given the lakes high and unusual saline content.
However, its near biblical status comes from none of these but rather as a symbol of Los Angeles’s destructive policy to capture, drain and remove water from huge swaths of eastern California often hundreds of miles from LA. Water politics date back decades and to some William Mulholland is a prescient hero and to others a man who stole water and gave us Los Angeles. For you movie buffs or simply ancients, think “Chinatown” with Jack Nicholson.
Like many I’ve returned to this area as a photography student, a nascent kayaker, a hiker and now once again as a SOTA activator.
Cow track has been on my bucket list for ages.
I had really intended to activate this during the summer and garner 3 extra summer bonus points (its in the Northern Desert and can be adversely hot in the summer) but those plans never came to pass.
I’ve looked at maps and driven past the general area enough times to feel I have a sense of this difficult Jeep trail that most likely will run out at points. Maybe these mind games have tempered by willingness to really do this drive.
We are heading south from Mineral County, Nevada where I had operated in the 7QP contest as K7E. Its rather cool that we can “borrow” call signs for special events or contests.
Having camped for two nights, we are ravenous for something other than freeze dried food and stop at Lee Vining also to check it 120 east is open (its closed typically in the winter due to snow).
After downing a monstrously large and tasty breakfast burrito and a really bad cup of coffee, we on highway 120 driving through forests, round tight corners and up and down ravines playing that old game of “spot the peak” which we both fail at until we are literally upon it.
We are so lucky in the western USA to have so many accessible and beautiful places to hike, camp and enjoy. I’m still in awe each and every time I wander slightly away from civilization at how larger and open the USA is.
Rico and I have known each other for decades, having grown up in London we’ve travelled far and near (including months wandering India in the late 1970s). Thanks old friend for helping me out with the 7QP adventure and striking Cowtrack from the bucket list.