Simi Peak

13 OCTOBER 2020. W6/CT-207

Venus and the waning crescent Moon before dawn on Simi Peak with the San Gabriel Mountains.

Once again my friend Brian (WA6JFK) and I were scheming about doing tandem activations early Tuesday morning to beat the heat that was forecast to be near triple digits. I picked Simi Peak and Brian decided to try Kagel Mountain over in the San Gabriels. I started hiking about 5:30 AM from the top of King James Place in Oak Park. The trail follows an old fire road that is deeply eroded. Waking in the ambient light is usually no problem, but the uneven footing made a flashlight necessary. Along the trail I saw dozens of Kangaroo Mice scurrying around feeding in the cool, pre-dawn air. The winter stars glittered overhead, Orion, Canis Major, Taurus. In the west, Mars shone brightly as it is at opposition to Earth and very close. In the east Venus and the waning crescent Moon dominated the sunrise. As I made the ridge, I even spotted Canopus – the second brightest star in the sky. Canopus is normally a Southern Hemisphere star. It can only be seen in these northern latitudes for a few hours a night in the fall and winter very low in the southern sky.

The hike is 5 miles round trip with 1,250′ of elevation gain. There is 250′ of gain on the return. The trail is heavily traveled most days and while I saw no one going up or on the summit at dawn, there were quite a few people starting out as I descended

Unlike the part of the Santa Monica Mountains just to the south, Simi Peak is all sedimentary rock. The trail takes the hiker through China Flat – a lovely live oak grove set in meadows behind the steep south scarp. This is where Little House on the Prairie was filmed.

Looking east before sunrise

I made 9 contacts on 2m. Brian made it up to Kagel Mountain about 7AM and we got our summit-to-summit in. We also made contact with our friend Steve (WA6FGW) who was on his way to work in Santa Monica. I first heard him as he came out of the MacClure Tunnel over the crest of the Santa Monica Mountain. By the time he got to Cloverfield he was 59. I also heard from faithful chasers Derek (KM6UHU) in Altadena, Steve (WB2WIK) in Winnetka, Ira (KI6TPX) in Glendale among others.

Sunrise over the San Gabriel Mountains
Looking northwest past Moorpark up to Hines Peak in the Sespe/Topotopo wilderness
The trail through China Flat
China Flat – where they filmed LIttle House on the Prairie and others
Deeply eroded trail up. Saddle Peak in the background.

Published by wringmaster

I'm a graphic artist in the movie business. When I was a kid I got interested in astronomy. When it would get too cloudy to observe the heavens, my buddy and I would sit at the VFO of his Hallicrafters S 38c like safe crackers trying to coax faraway signals out of that humble radio. My love of astronomy and radio survive to this day fifty+ years later.

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