A dazzlingly beautiful day on Liebre Mountain between the storms
This was perhaps the most fun I’ve had on a SOTA activation to date – and I almost didn’t go! The winds had been blowing for much of January and the I-5 corridor is notorious for taking the worst of it. Some rain finally fell on Saturday and Sunday morning was forecast to be clear, but possibly windy before the next storm moved into the Southern California. When I got up at 3:30AM it was pretty windy in Topanga. I mulled it over and decided to go for it anyway. I could always turn back. It was 43ºF in my driveway but 32ºF in the bottom of Topanga Canyon. Watching for ice on the road I made my way up 1-5 to the 138 cutoff to Lancaster.
It was also 32ºF at the road head but no wind! I got underway just as it was getting light. There were only a few spots of snow at the car, but soon I was walking in a winter wonderland of glittery, dry powdery snow. The hike affords spectacular views of the Antelope Valley
My pack weighed 24.5 pounds, down from the usual 28 pounds or so. I jettisoned the big SLR camera and tripod in favor of saving space for bulky winter clothing. I had enough to be able to bivouac the night in an emergency.
The hike is 3.5 miles one way and has an elevation gain of about 2,000 feet. The route follows the Pacific Crest Trail and is a well graded trail.
The mountain top is large, flat and park-like with large oaks trees everywhere. The activation zone is huge, in fact the Sierra Club’s Hundred Peaks section considers the summit where the register is indicated on the map above. There is good cell service from Verizon. The summit does not have great UHF/VHF coverage into the Los Angeles basin.
I made contact with New Hampshire, Georgia, West Virginia, Kansas and two POTA stations on 20m. One sobering discovery on an otherwise giddy activation: my old cell phone died and after that I found it was very hard to make HF contacts without a spot on SOTAwatch3. Since I plan to do some remote peaks with no cell coverage I need to develop a strategy to get the necessary 4 contacts to qualify the activation. The two POTA contacts might point in that direction.
Here is the HPS Hiking Guide to Liebre Mountain.
More information about the Summits on the Air program.