SOTA: Cabeza Arcon (EA4/MD-053)

A view from the peak featuring my unusual choice of footwear for a mountain hike.

For my last summit activation in Spain on this trip, I had two enticing options: first, I could aim for some of the ten-point peaks that lie along ridges or I could activate a peak for the first time. There are two good prospects in the first category: the peaks of Valdemartin (EA4/MD-004), Cabezas de Hierro (EA4/MD-002), and the Asómate de Hoyos (EA4/MD-006) all along one trail, and it looks like that trailhead could be reached by taking the ski lift up from the Estacion de Esqui de Valdesqui (presuming it runs in the summer). Similarly, Najarra (EA4/MD-013) and Bailanderos (EA4/MD-011) lie along a trail, which could probably be accessed by parking at 40.82797N x 3.83015W.  In fact, it might be easier to reach Asómate de Hoyos by continuing west from Bailandreos rather than east from Cabezas de Hierro.

Predictably, I went for the first-time activation of EA4/MD-053, Cabeza Arcon. This is in no way a technically difficult peak, so I assume that it was recently added to the list of summits.

I drove to Bustarviejo and parked near a radio tower at the base of a bike trail. The trail is not particularly well marked, but it corresponds to the path on the OpenStreetMap cycling path overlay. The path winds up the hill over sandy and rocky trails and up through pine forest.

Crossroads at the top of the hill.

When the trail arrives at the top of a hill at a four-way intersection of trails, I followed the path to the right, which continues north and wraps around the first of a few rocky peaks (but not *the* peak).

The trees thin out as you near the peak, and the trek is more across the rocky crest. The trail continues past the peak and then back down towards the north. The rocky walls at the top of the mountain are roughly in a “U” shape, with the hollow of the “U” on the north side.

The “back side” of the peak. Operating position was at the top, center.

Climbing up the peak is not too difficult, and once up there, there are a number of crevices and cracks that would make good anchor points for a pole. There are even some smooth water-worn bowls in the rock that resemble tidal pools.

I had thought that there would be trees near this summit, so I did not bring my pole along. There are indeed some trees, probably within the activation zone, but they are not tall and an antenna placed in them would be blocked on one side or another by rocky prominences.

Given that, I climbed to the peak and ran the end-fed antenna from the peak to the highest outcrop that I could find that would give me a north-south run for the antenna, which I figured would yield desirable east-west propagation.

If you click to enlarge and kind of squint, you can pick out the thin wire running from the peak to the rock formation at right,

Water had tunneled through some of the “tidal” pools to create arches of rock, which I used as a natural “balun” to wind my coax cable on the radio end. The end-fed antenna did not reach across to the opposing outcropping, so I made up the rest of the distance with mason line that I usually employ while tossing the antenna into a tree.

Coax wrapped through the rocks at the peak.

The wind was howling at the summit and I had to crank the volume up a couple notches. Again, I think general propagation was poor due to recent solar flares, but I could hear some activity on both 20 and 40m.

I only landed ten QSOs before I concluded that conditions were poor (and I was getting cold): eight on 20 meters, one on 40 meters (an S2S with HBPCLT/P), and, for a change, one on 2 meter FM with Carlos, EA4RN.

On the way back down the mountain, I took note of the boulders along the way. There are a lot of large rocks poised on top of each other in unlikely configurations. Many of the large boulders and outcroppings along the border of the trail have unusual shapes. I suppose some of this could be due to glacial action, but people have been here a long time, and I have to wonder if before people had radios, this is what they did on mountains in their free time.

This one reminds me of Easter Island Moai.
The bulbous nose on this is evocative of Mister Magoo.
I thought this one looked like the mascot for Android phones.
Panorama from the peak; click to enlarge.

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