A Mile High in W0C (or 2.7 mi. high, to be exact)

A biennial summer school gig gets me out to Denver regularly, and I make sure to work in a few days in the mountains. This year, for the first time, I looked to make some SOTA activations.state-flag-of-colorado

Given my recent return from Germany and several months of SOTA in the Black Forest (DM/BW) and the upper Rhine (FL/VO), the activations in the W0C association were a quick and unambiguous reminder of how much hiking infrastructure matters to SOTA. No fifty point days here in W0C-land, that’s for sure!

I got out for two days and three summits: W0C/FR-003, W0C/FR-002, and FR-007. My base of operations was in Sedalia, CO, about a half hour’s drive south of central Denver.

My equipment on all activations included the Youkits HB-1B, an AlexLoop SMLoop (set up on a trekking pole), and a BaMaKey TP-II.

And yes, there really were mountain goats everywhere!! (And not the kind licensed by the FCC.)

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W0C/FR-002 — Grays Peak (10)

Date: 2017 07 10
TH: N39.66058° W105.78466° (Summer) –

4WD, recommended. There are rough patches on the last stretch of dirt road. The parking lot at the end did have a few courageous 2WD vehicles. I turned around to safer parking altitudes at the sight of one car ahead of me drifting several times down a sandy/gravelly stretch of that dirt road.

Hiking Up Time: It took me 4 hours

However, I parked nearly 2 miles shy of the trailhead indicated above because of concern over the driving possibilities at one stretch of the dirt road.

Activation Area: rocky and exposed – no trees or brush.
Cell Phone Coverage: -/+ (TH/Summit)

Notes: This was a Monday morning hike. There were other hikers, and hardly a stretch of the trail without folks visible ahead and behind. This needs to be taken into account in the AZ. I had my SMLoop with me, and am unsure how I could’ve managed with a dipole.

I had originally considered a double activation with W0C/PR-013, just a mile away across a saddle circa 500′ down. On site, I decided against the second activation: This was my first hike at such altitudes since arriving and I was wiped out; and the parking blip had put me behind on the clock with a threat of afternoon showers in the weather reports.

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W0C/FR-003 — Mount Evans (10)

Date: 2017 07 12
TH: N39.58786° W105.64252°
Hiking Up Time: drive-on summit
Activation Area: rocky and exposed – no trees or brush, or even loose rocks.
Cell Phone Coverage: -/-

Notes: Not too many people around (the weather was not all that promising). I make a quick scramble part way up to find a spot with crevices suitable for holding the trekking rod I use as a mast for my SMLoop. The absence of loose rocks is striking (no pun intended): I’d guess that’s to keep a rock from being inadvertently kicked down the slopes. The problem for us looking to put up antennas is that there’s nothing to build up support with at the base of a mast or to weight down the far side of the guy lines with.

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W0C/FR-007 — Rosalie Peak (10)

Date: 2017 07 11
TH: N39.5794° W105.6320°: on Mount Evans Road.
Hiking Up Time: 3 hours. No marked trail.
Activation Area: rocky and exposed – no trees or brush.
Cell Phone Coverage: -/-

Notes: There is no marked trail to FR-007. I had studied the notes left on the summit page by KX0R and NM5S, as well as my own topo maps. I knew that the moon would be on the early waning side of full. I was on the trail by 3 a.m. I had paper maps and GPS with me. Despite the sky’s being overcast, the light of a full moon was often enough to read the map by. Dawn’s light made it gradually brighter. There was some light precipitation along the way. I didn’t have a thermometer with me; while I’m sure the temp didn’t drop below freezing, it must have started in the upper thirties and warmed up as the sun slowly rose. Needless to say, I had all the solitude I wanted!

If I could do it all over again and had no time constraints, I would have picked a day with better weather and better weather reports: The cold and occasional drizzle made the hike a little miserable. The less-than-ideal weather reports of late morning/midday thunderstorms kept me rushing. In my mind’s eye I imagine doing it again sometime, at a more godly hour of day, with perfect late summer hiking weather and no call for rain.

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