Life has changed a little bit. I spend a lot of time in Broomfield, Colorado at my girlfriend’s house. The time I used to spend at the Evergreen coffee shop, writing up trip reports, is now spent driving. I have done a couple of SOTA activations that I did not write about.
I hiked Mount Silverheels, W0C/FR-005, 13822′ again on Memorial Day 2017, this time making the summit and activating. On June 24th 2017 I hiked and activated Whale Peak, W0C/SP-032 at 13,078′. Both of these summits were first activated by WA6MM and I was the second activator.
I had been looking at Grizzly Peak for several months. At 13,988 feet, Grizzly is Colorado’s highest 13er. This summit had not been activated for SOTA yet. My girlfriend, KA0JKZ , and I tried hiking it on July 9th. While hiking, I turned uphill and left the valley too soon and ended up on a lot of loose talus with rotten rock to climb. We turned back that day and I returned the following Sunday.
I stayed in Evergreen on Saturday night of the 15th to try and get a little sleep before heading out. I left Evergreen at 4:30 in the morning and drove through Copper Mountain and Leadville and turned west on CO 82 at Twin Lakes. I drove west on 82 and turned off at the La Plata Peak trailhead onto Forest Road 399. I did not record the mileage on this 4×4 road. The previous weekend we took the Subaru Outback up this road. It was a little much for the Subaru. My old 1997 Rav4 did fine though.
I started hiking the route at 7:25 AM. I made pretty good time initially. I downloaded the route onto my GPS from 14ers.com. The previous weekend I did not have the route on my GPS and I went off route. I stayed in the valley longer and passed below the rotten rock and talus and climbed better terrain. There were more larger rocks to climb and I spent a lot of time using my hands for balance and climbing.
The hike was enjoyable. The route goes past an old mine and initially uses the mine road. I saw mountain goats from a distance. I saw a ptarmigan and her chicks. The ptarmigan was trying to scare me away from her chicks. There were a lot of pretty wildflowers on the hike.
I made the summit a few minutes after 10 AM. I started setting up radio gear and another hiker reached the summit after a few minutes. He goes by Alien, on 14ers.com. I asked him to take my picture with my camera.
I set up my Yaesu 817 first with a Elk Antennas 5 element yagi. Trying 446 MHz yielded no contacts. I then went to 146.520 and almost immediately I got Bob, K0NR. Bob was talking to a few other activators on other summits. I was moving the yagi around hoping to contact the other activators but had no luck there. I made a second VHF contact with a mobile operator driving on Highway 285. I kept trying 146.520 for awhile longer with no luck.
I then deployed my trapped end fed half wave wire antenna and the fishing pole. I’d like to write up the making of this antenna. It is (or I thought) tune for 20,30 and 40 meters. It was made from US Army communications wire and the 5 watt pico traps were assembled from kits by SOTABeams. http://www.sotabeams.co.uk/pico-traps-kit-pair/. The traps were wound and tuned for 20 and 30 meters.
It tried SSB on 20 and 40 meters for quite awhile without any luck. I tried CW on 20,30 and 40 meters. My SWR was lousy on 30 meters. I had previously used this antenna with success on 30 meters and I do not yet understand what went wrong on this summit.
I was not having much luck making the 4 contacts I needed for the summit. I was moving my wire around hoping it would help. I tuned around on 20 meters and heard a pile-up of calls on 14.285 MHz. I listened for a bit hoping it was another SOTA activator. It was. It was KG7EJT activating a summit in Washington. Tiffany Mountain, W7W/OK-029. As soon as I transmitted my call and said “summit to summit”, KG7EJT asked his other traffic to stand by and we had a short QSO. KG7EJT was activating for his thousandth SOTA point and his Mountain Goat status. I was happy to be a part of that. Congratulations!
I eventually made one CW contact 14.063 MHz for my fourth contact. I had been on the summit for two hours and the weather held out and I wrapped it up.
Usually the hike down goes at half to two thirds of the time up. There were stretches that I had to descend using my hands and these took longer on the way down than on the way up. I also stopped at a few wildflowers and a small waterfall, and a runoff pool on the way down. The trip down was longer than the trip up.
I made it back to my vehicle about 4:30 PM.