Circle Mountain

A blustery day on the summit of Circle Mountain

20 MARCH 2021 W6/CT-071

Had I checked the NOAA website for the weather forecast for Circle Mountain, like I usually do, I probably would not have attempted to try it. The weather was slated to be fine in Topanga and I thought collecting my first winter bonus points at the end of the season would be easy. Wrong.

Conditions weren’t bad at the roadhead as I parked the car just as it was getting light. While it looks like there are NO PARKING signs, closer inspection reveals that this is just when “snow removal conditions exist.” There was still snow on the north-facing slopes, but the route up Circle is entirely south-facing and was free of snow. Trying out my new gaitors would have to wait.

When I got to the top, it was really howling. This was the most wind I’d experienced on any SOTA activation. My last trip up Circle Mountain was August 3rd, 1987. At that time there were a lot of large oak trees, but because of the recent fire, there was little wind protection.

I hunkered down behind some low growing regrowth and set up. It wasn’t too bad at ground level, but I’m guessing there were gusts in the 30-40 MPH range overhead. I went with the Packtenna end-fed random wire and the carbon fiber fishing pole at first and made a few QSOs, but the end of the antenna kept slipping off the end in the really big gusts.

After the third time the antenna came down, I figured I needed a better support to finish the activation. There were some large pine trees in the activation zone off the north side, but they offered very little ground level protection. I managed to set up there and the antenna stayed put anyway, but everything else kept blowing away. At one point my REI Big Boss Camp Chair blew a hundred yards or so down the mountain.

It was a trying activation.

I didn’t take many photos – it was too hectic.

On the way up.

After Circle Mountain, I attempted Table Mountain. I was kicked off the summit area by a security guard at the Caltech/NASA facility. I tried to sweet-talk my way into getting permission as KO6M managed to do on the initial activation in 2016. He wasn’t having any of it and insisted I needed prior written permission to be anywhere near the activation zone.

All-in-all it was my most trying SOTA day to date.

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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