Another weekend, another SOTA activation. This time I went up to Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to scale Mount St. Helena. It was a long and somehwat boring hike, with lots of meandering switchbacks spreading 2000 feet of elevation gain over 5 miles or so.
At the trailhead.
About 1 mile into the hike, the trail opens up into a fire trail.
The pole held up despite the low guying.
The acrylic guy ring.
I got to try out my new 31 foot fiberglass antenna mast, which held my end fed up well. I laser-cut a piece of acrylic to use as a guy ring and it worked well, though I think I was guying the pole a bit too low to the ground to be super effective and there were some frightening wobbles accompanying the stiffer breezes. I could probably improve the setup by staking the center of the mast, but all in all this wasn’t too bad for the first field test!
Lots of folks called in this time and the activation was very fast. Good thing, because it was rather cold and windy at the summit. Thanks to all the chasers!
On February 11, I returned to Kennedy Grove Park for my first hike for the East Bay Trails Challenge to get to know the regional parks a bit better. Of course, the radio came along so my group could make a SOTA excursion to Abrott Benchmark (here’s the first time I went with KJ6GLR’s company).
After one week of solid rain, this Saturday was a beautiful day with clear skies and a great time to return to this peak! Overflow from the reservoir was pouring down a spillway and the trail was quite muddy in places. The hills were a beautiful green this time around.
Our East Bay Trails Challenge started on the Laurel Loop Trail. We then went up the eastern Lower Sea Foam Trail to the Upper Sea Foam Trail to the Black Oak Loop Trail. We then came back down on the Kennedy Creek Trail to finish the loop.
In order to get to Abrott Benchmark, we had to do a little bit of backtracking. This time we took the north leg of the Lower Sea Foam Trail and turned onto Upper Sea Foam Trail, but once we reached the high point on Upper Sea Foam Trail, we broke towards a fire trail on the east edge of the park that heads toward the peak. There’s a green swing near the entrance to the fire trail. You have to cross a fence to get to the trail, walking along a bit of grass in between. Take the fire trail to your left and you’ll make your way to the meandering fire trail that eventually takes you to the benchmark.
When you approach this structure, you are near the high point on Upper Sea Foam.
Here’s the swing near the fence to get to the fire trail.
After going over the fence, you’ll see this fire trail (you have to walk through a bit of grass to get to it). Take a left to get to the summit trail.
The tree cover will drop after a bit, leaving you to see the path meander along the rolling hills.
The final summit approach is shown to the west.
Enjoying the sights.
There’s the Benchmark!
Reservoir nice and full from all that rain!
I also experimented with APRS location reporting. Nearly all the packets that I sent while on the Black Oak Loop were lost to the ether, but I managed to get a halfway decent track towards the peak. I was able to spot myself with the APRS2SOTA service, so everything was done on RF this trip.
The contacts went by quickly, and I got a number of summit-to-summits this time. Of particular note was KE6MT who was just across the bay on Richardson East Benchmark, which I had activated a few months ago. It must have been a wonderful view that day! Thanks to all the chasers!