Mount Lowe, Mount Markham and San Gabriel Peak
27 NOVEMBER 2021 W6/CT-098
I love heading out my driveway in the predawn hours off to another summit adventure. This Saturday morning it was 62ºF in my driveway and by the time I was only a few miles into the deepest part of Topanga Canyon it was 38ºF and the little snowflake icon on the dash of Pfeffernusse had lit up. Canyon temperature inversions are not uncommon, but a 24 degree inversion is pretty steep.
I reached the parking spot at about 5:30 AM. This is the driveway to the 972 foot tall KCBS TV tower. The whole area is completely RF saturated to the point that my car’s remote locking device did not work! This parking spot is about 4.8 miles from the junction of the Angeles Crest Highway and the Mount Wilson road.
It was interesting to me that this hike follows a threaded use trail and is only about half as far as the nearby hike I did last week to San Gabriel Peak. I left the car about the same time as last week and the hike still took the same amount of time. This is largely due to the up-and-down, rough nature of the use trail on this one. I do not recommend carrying a tall mast in your pack. I had to remove mine from the pack and carry it because it kept getting caught on low-hanging trees and brush. The trail passes by two of the massive guys for the 972′ tower.
Occidental Peak illuminates for me some of the vagaries of the SOTA system for selecting peaks. I gather the criteria is predicated on a summit’s geographical prominence. However rigid adherence to this rule seems to include some peaks of questionable enjoyment and exclude some other interesting summits. To me nearby Mount Lowe and Mount Markham are much more interesting and enjoyable summits but lack the necessary credentials to be included. Pity.
There is little room on the summit of Occidental Peak to set up and the view is largely obscured by brush and California Scrub Oak. I set up my Packtenna Mini Random Wire because of the limited space. I ran 12 watts on HF and 5 watts on VHF.
Cell service from Verizon was very spotty. I only managed one spot and the rest had to be done through the Garmin InReach Mini and the Iridium Satellites. Not sure if it was the RF saturation or just bad coverage. The Kenwood TH-F6A performed okay with no intermod.