SOTA After Action Report - Sheridan Peak

Thanks to the efforts of Etienne Scott, K7ATN, we who live in the Pacific Northwest have a couple of nice SOTA summit-to-summit activity days each year. One that happens in early spring and if I remember correctly the other which occurs later in the summer. I participated in the spring S2S Party two years ago, but haven't had a SOTA activation since.

As mentioned in a previous post, things have been kind of crazy here lately, and Jennifer has been encouraging me to get out to do something I enjoy, so I decided to take this Saturday to participate in the S2S Party. I was considering Bald Peak, which is just on the outskirts of the Beaverton-Hillsboro area, and makes for a quick and easy trip, but by the time that I went to Sotawatch to claim it, I noticed that K7ATN had already done so. Thanks to SOTA Maps, I was able to easily browse some other peaks relatively close, and settled on Sheridan Peak, especially since a previous trip report tagged it as a fairly easy drive and hike.

I needed a travelling companion, so I asked my 5-year-old son Noah if he wanted to go, and he eagerly agreed. I wasn't sure if that enthusiasm would hold up during the trip, but at least because of the short hike to the summit, it would be easy to bail out if necessary. So we departed the house at around 9 AM, stopped by McDonalds for a light breakfast and a large coffee for me, then took the backroads of Washington and Yamhill Counties out to Sheridan Peak.

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The drive was uneventful, other than my phone's GPS getting a bit lost at the very end of the trip. However, the driving directions from the two previous write-ups of this peak on pnwsota.org were great and got me right to the parking lot. Actually, the gate to the parking lot was closed, but that was OK because there is a nice big turnout on the road immediately below it, so we just parked there and walked around the closed gate.

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The hike up to the summit was quite easy, and Noah did well for one of his first actual hikes. Unsurprisingly for a peak in the Oregon Coast Range, the weather was damp and showery. Although we didn't have much of a view from the top due to the forest, one big advantage of that was the canopy over our heads providing a bit of a break from the rain.

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Fortunately, I was prepared for the rain, and I quickly erected a tarp shelter for us to use to take cover from the elements. It was actually fairly cozy under the shelter, as another advantage of the tree cover was that it was acting as a nice wind break from the usual chilly blast you get on a peak.

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I don't currently own any HF portable gear, but thanks to the generosity of W8NF, I was able to borrow a Yaesu FT-817 and Elecraft T1 tuner. A few days prior to the activation, I cut a random wire and counterpoise that would at least work on 40 and 20 meters, and tested it in my backyard. That turned out to be a good thing, as I was able to get my wire in the tree and get the 817 QRV with no problems at all. I also brought along my Baofeng UV-5R with rubber duck/tiger tail combo for 2 meter FM ops, with the 817 as the designated backup if that didn't work.

At the designated time of noon local, I heard K7ATN full quieting on 2 meters (which wasn't a huge shock, as his peak was only about 20 miles away from mine). There wasn't a huge turnout for this activity day like there was a few years ago when I did it on Cooper Mountain, but I did manage to make four S2S QSOs on 2 meter FM with the UV-5R in order to officially activate the peak. Woo! After that, I switched to 40 meters LSB on the 817 and made a couple of S2S QSOs with stations that I had already talked to on 2 meters and one with a local chaser. Finally, I had K7ATN spot me on 20 meters and managed to squeak out a couple more SSB QRP QSOs, both with stations in Arizona. By then, Noah was getting a bit cold and wanted to get going, but I was pretty happy with the results. From the sounds of things on 2 meters, a few of the other activators had some pretty crummy weather conditions to deal with, especially NS7P on Mary's Peak.

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So after about an hour on the peak, Noah and I packed everything up and headed back down the half mile or so to the pickup. I was very proud of Noah, as he did great for a 5-year-old; never really complaining and obviously really enjoying being out in nature, plus I think he liked the radio activity as well.

I'm really happy to have made this activation, especially since I was able to get Noah involved in both an activity out in nature plus radio fun! Thanks again to K7ATN for all of the hard work that you put into the PNW SOTA community and the rest of the activators for getting out there in this wet spring Oregon day. Stay tuned for hopefully one or two more SOTA activations this year, hopefully with more family members coming along on future trips.

Edit: Here's a recap of the event from K7ATN.

SOTA After Action Report - Cooper Mountain

About a week and a half ago, I received an email from Etienne K7ATN, asking me if would be able to participate in an event he organized called the Portland Urban S2S Party. In a nutshell, this was an effort to get activators on as many of the "urban" SOTA summits in the Portland area so that we could all work each other on 2 meter FM simplex. That sounded like a lot of fun, and as it turned out, the nearest peak to me (Cooper Mountain W7O/WV-099) was unclaimed. It also worked out nicely that this is a very easy summit to access due to the fact it is essentially in a suburb and would require only a short hike.

(I injured my left knee/quadricep with a tear a bit over a year ago, and I'm currently in physical therapy to work on improving it. I can walk, but ascending and descending anything is difficult for me. Fortunately, I can now do a bit of easier hiking)

The event time was set for 26 April 2014 at 2000 UTC. I grabbed my dusty IC-T7H with quarter-wave whip, notepad, and waterproof windbreaker and made the short 15 minute drive to the road near the summit. That was easy to find thanks to a nicely documented summit report from K7ATN.

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The footpath between the houses was easy enough for me, but the final ascent to the recommended operating spot was a bit tough because of how wet the ground was. In the above photo it looks like there is lots of wild grass, but the roots were very shallow, as every step up the hill resulted in a bit of a muddy slide backwards. However, I managed to slowly make my way up the hill without injuring myself further and found a dry spot under a tree to set up shop.

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I arrived a bit early, so I turned on the HT and heard K7ATN on the designated frequency holding some QSOs. A quick call to Etienne confirmed that I was getting out OK, so I sat down and waited for the net to start.

Cooper Mt - Op Position In Red
Cooper Mt - Op Position In Red

At 2000, K7ATN kicked off the net and had a total of 13 check-ins from local summits. I was able to hear everyone else except for the station on Mary's Peak, which wasn't a total surprise, as that summit was directly south of my QTH, while I was on the north side of Cooper Mountain. Below is a map of the summit-to-summit QSOs that I made in the event.

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I'll let K7ATN's summary speak for the results, but I had a great time getting out for my first real SOTA activation, even if it was a bit of weaksauce in the adventure department. It was great to get back out and do a bit of hiking and ham radio in the outdoors. Thanks to Etienne for the invitation and the rest of the participants and chasers for a damn fine afternoon of SOTA fun.