Saturday, November 26, 2016

Cheesman Mountain and a new GPS

We started out he day heading to the TH of Burntop Mountain but as we drove through Woodland Park there was still a lot of snow on the ground at 9,000 feet and we needed to get to over 11,000 feet. I just did not want to spend all day in waist deep snow on a steep hike. We opted to turn around and head for Cheesman Mountain near the little town of Deckers, Colorado. It is a straight forward hike with a lot of deadfall, today it was 24 degrees at the TH so we bundled up and hit the trail. I kind of screwed up on our ascent and wanted to take a more direct approach but I quickly realized I should not had done that and stuck to the published route. We made it but not without cost. Lynn got sick near the summit but after a short rest and some food she was feeling a lot better. That kind of scared me a bit as there is only cell phone coverage on the rock that towers above the summit about 10 feet. This outlines the need for a checklist so I do not forget my handheld with APRS (and another checklist on how to use it). With APRS I can send a distress signal if need be. I hope to never have to use that but can if needed. However, I need to bring the radio with me. I think that is the last time I forget it.

I told Lynn we could head back down as this was only a 1 point summit but she would not have that. She was there to activate!

Lynn worked 20 meters SSB and had a lot of QSOs. Her is her log:

















There were a couple of calls we never heard before and it is always a blast to hear new people getting into SOTA, activating and/or chasing. 

I did not have the pileup Lynn did. The CQWW CW Contest was in full swing so I went to 17 Meters and worked the following chasers:









Walt, NE4TN, made a recording of my CQ. It is really cool! Thanks Walt.

That is 5 watts from an Elecraft KX2 to a 29 foot wire with a 9 to 1 UNUN and about 6 feet of RG-174 coax. Colorado to North East TN.

It is always nice when the chasers works us both even though there are no additional points for them. With out those dedicated chasers I would had have trouble activating this one.

I tried to go to 30 and 40 meters and was not able to get another spot in no matter how I held my tongue. I called a few CQs on both bands on the QRP freq with no joy. That was ok as I wanted to start heading down. Lynn was feeling much better and she had no problem with the descent. When we got back to the Jeep the temp at the TH was up to near 50 degrees.

A few pictures:

Lynn getting her warmies on

Cheesman Lake

Lynn making her way up

Pano pic on the ridge line

Summit in view

Cheesman Mountain


I have been using an Etrex 20 by Garmin since 2012 as my GPS unit. I like it a lot but my one complaint about it is it is horrible in a forested area. Also I broke the Mini SD Card holder so sometimes I have to reseat it before a hike to get the map to come up. I decided to give the Etrex Touch 25 a go.
Etrex 25 Touch PROS:
- A lot of features
- I get signal in my basement quickly
- It is much quicker to acquire and locate
- Larger screen
- Touch screen
- Light weight

- Battery hog I was surprised to only see 1 bar at the end of our hike (I will see if I can turn off some features to increase battery life)
- Touch Screen cannot be used with gloves on

If I can turn off some features to increase battery life then I will be very pleased with it. If not I will have to go back to the Etrex 20 as it still works fine and does not drain the batteries that much.

Etrex 25 touch on left and etrex 20 on right


Monday, November 21, 2016

The Kaufman's

Lynn and I wanted to get another SOTA activation in during the mild weather we have been having in Colorado. We are glad we tackled these two summits which included Kaufman Ridge North and Kaufman Ridge High Point. Both 6 SOTA points each.

These are wooded hikes with a lot of deadfall so we do not really enjoy the hike as much as the views when you finally break through to the summit.

Here are the pictures.

KC0YQF taking shelter in the trees from the wind

KC0YQF working station from coast to coast


The Star: Elecraft KX2

A rendering by our friend Steve, wG0AT

We were getting pretty cold on Kaufman Ridge HP which was the second summit. As the sun was setting and the wind picking up it was time to go. By the time we dropped about 500 feet in elevation we were warm again.

It is a drive of around 100 miles to get to these two summits and we got a late start but it was well worth it to be back on a summit running a pileup of chasers.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Bald Mountain or W0C/SP-115 (9607 Feet)

This will be a short blog entry: Lynn and I did Bald Mountain (between Buena Vista and Hartsel) a few weekends ago. You can drive up Bald Mountain but we decided to hike up and enjoy the great weather (albeit a bit warm). This was Lynn's first time up this summit so I really wanted her to see the views.

Our GPS Track on Google Earth

Too Map
We went up the East side and looped around to the North for the final approach. We tool the Jeep Trail and did not deviate from it much. This is very popular with the ATV crowd on the weekends.

Our GPS Track

Hike Profile

The views from Bald Mountain are great and there are a few trees for antenna support so it is SOTA friendly.

Looking South East

Looking North East

K0JQZ using the KX2
I took no pictures but luckily Lynn took a few. I noticed I was having a few issues with my paddles but I thought it was just me. On the next summit the paddles shorted so they were unusable. What I did not realize, because I was dead tiered, was that it was an easy fix as the contact post just came loose and were shorting the dot and dash together. I decided to do a SSB activation instead of messing with the paddles. I had fun doing it but I am not very comfortable using SSB. After the first few contacts I was in the groove.

Work has been keeping me busy lately but that will change soon and I should have more time to do some more videos.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Little Scraggy Peak and Mount Peck

Little Scraggy Peak

Lynn and I did little Scraggy Peak a while ago. It was a perfect day. Little Scraggy is near Deckers Colorado.

KC0YQF hiking on the trail

Neat rock formation

Near the summit

APRS Beacon for K0JQZ-7

Hike Profile

GPS Track

Mount Peck

Mount Peck is near Monarch Ridge South. For the most part you hike the CDT until you come to a clear area where you start to go up. It is a very nice hike however the wind was really blowing. This dropped the temperature a lot but still a great day to be on a summit.

Great views

K0JQZ on 20 meter CW

Mount Peck

Our workhorse the Elecraft KX2

The matchbox for the End Fed

Fishing pole support is a PCV pipe held in place with rocks

KC0YQF working SSB using the rock as a shield from the wind

Antenna support

Lynn, KC0YQF

We were unable to stay very long due to unexpected events but we did enjoy our time on this hike.

K0JQZ-7 APRS Track

Hike Profile

GPS track

Both these hikes were last minute. I have been very busy at work but hope it starts to slow down soon. Winter will soon be here and Lynn is trying to reach her goal of 900 points for this year. I am not sure we can do that but she will be very close.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trip Home (Jacksonville, NC)

I always like to go home but lately it seems that I only make the trip when something bad has happened. I am glad Lynn and I went home this summer, just for a vacation with my sister. I do not want to go into any detail but I just want to say that the water always has a calming effect on my soul.

When home I usually walk down to North East Creek Park about 1.5 mile walk (less than a mile as the crow flies) and enjoy the water.

I will end this with a few pictures.

North East Creek

H-53 (I think)