17 OCTOBER 2020 W6/CT-052
Brian (WA6JFK) and I were planning another pair of tandem activations. Sunset Peak was a good choice for a moderate hike, but what other juicy peak was nearby? I had climbed Timber Mountain twice before – once in 1981 and once in the winter of 1999. At 10 miles round trip and over 3,300′ of elevation gain, it poses a challenge to my current level of conditioning. I decided that’s a good thing!
Since I haven’t been up Icehouse Canyon this century, I was shocked to find a packed roadhead parking lot at 5am with many groups getting ready to hike. This is a heavily traveled area. Starting up the trail in the dark, a flashlight is absolutely essential. The trail is very rocky and, in places, narrow with steep drop-offs. I managed to pass a few slow parties and be passed by some faster ones. I only needed to don the Covid 19 mask at these few times on the way up. This is good because the trail climbs steeply in the thin air and the mask is uncomfortable.
On the summit there were three guys who spent the night. They had the banda music playing merrily away while I got set up. This is not a wilderness experience. Soon several other large parties joined us. When I say “parties” I mean that more ways than one. Soon “Happy Birthday” banners were hung and tequila shots were poured. I explained to the revelers what Summits on the Air was all about and got several “cool!”s out of it. One guy said he was studying for the Technician license.
The activation was a success with 18 contacts all on 2m, including 3 summit to summit contacts with Brian (WA6JFK) over on Sunset Peak, W5EAL at The Pinnacles over in the San Bernardino Mountains and with W6MDE who was acting as fire lookout on Morton Peak.
The hike down was actually harder with many rock and wood stairs to step down. I have to work the muscles hard to protect my 65 year old knees. I had to wear the mask almost all the way down as numerous groups where ascending the trail. I got back to the car exactly at noon.