Yesterday I decided to take advantage of the “Summer Bonus” in the desert section and headed to the Mojave Desert. First up was Kokoweef Peak W6/SD-016. I was surprised that temperatures at 5:30 AM were just shy of about 80 degrees F or 27 degrees C. The beta provided by @NA6MG was spot on, and the activation went perfectly. Kokoweef Peak is actually a pretty cool summit - the mountain itself is a mine, and although the hike to the top is a slight bushwhack, it traverses over several open mineshafts and has some awesome looking cacti. This summit was a unique for me and pushed me over “100 Uniques” in the SOTA Program. On the top, I was rewarded with awesome SOTA DX: 9A/IZ3NVR. I almost had a completed QSO with a station in GW land but the rolling QSB made it just hard enough to prevent that. After making about 22 contacts, I headed back.
Next, I headed to Teutonia Peak W6/CD-013. By 9:00 AM PST, the temperatures had already climbed to just over 100 degrees F or 38 degrees C. The hike to the top was along a well-marked trail, and my activation there was also a success with about 21 contacts.
As an aside, if you are interested in a fascinating story about the Mojave Desert and a remote phone booth that used to be located just west of Teutonia peak, I’d highly recommend checking out the NPR interview and listening to the audio of the interview. You can also Google “Mojave Phone Booth 3” and find more about the topic.
After taking in the scenery from Teutonia Peak, I headed back and thought I would activate one final summit, so I headed over to the Kelso Sand Dunes. The Sand Dunes are slowly migratory, but have about 650 feet of prominence from the surrounding desert floor, and are in fact a 2 point SOTA summit (with 3 bonus during summer months). Unfortunately by then the temperatures climbed up to about 111 degrees F or 44 degrees C. That heat was too much for me and after taking a few photos, and slamming two bottles Gatorade I headed home.
In all this was an excellent expedition. Although it was a little hot at the end, I did appreciate the summits I was able to activate. I am learning to enjoy the desert sections more with every activation there.
Thanks to everyone who chased me, this was a great SOTA day with lots of contacts and a good experience.
During a recent trip to Sequoia National Forest, I camped for a week at the Upper Stony Creek Campground. Because there was a giant map posted at the north side of the campground, I naturally went to look and saw "Stony Creek Trailhead" began at the campsite, although it wasn't marked on any online mapping program.
The trail to Kettle Peak from Stony Creek is straightforward and well-marked for about 7 miles past Jennie Ellis Lake to "JO Pass" (the trails are named 29E06 and 29E05). At the pass, a summit attempt is a mild bushwhack, and about 600 ft of elevation gain in about a mile.
Kettle Peak is a high point on a ridgeline that is free of trees and a typical Sierra Nevada granite boulder type summit. The highest point on Kettle Peak is a vertical butte measuring approximately 10 square feet (flat) at the top, and would require some class 4/5 climbing; however, you would only gain about 20 feet in elevation by doing this climb. There are several flat spots on the summit to set a SOTA pole and a station to make contacts. The views of Mt Whitney and surrounding peaks are amazing, along with the views of Kings Canyon and even Fresno to the west.
I'd highly recommend this peak. The hike was about 16.5 miles and about 5000ft in elevation gain from the Stony Creek Campground. Water is available at Jennie Ellis Lake, and at a couple of river crossings (I packed a filter to save weight). For my activation, I used an MTR5b and a 20m monoband EFHW.