SOTA: Sierra Morena (W6/NC-209)

As in previous years, after attending a medical conference that runs Thursday to Saturday, I had Sunday mostly free for SOTA. In previous years, I have focused on working sites within the range of public transportation (Mount Davidson, Richardson East Benchmark, Chabot 2 Benchmark, and, taking ferries into account, Angel Island). This year, I thought it would be fun to rent a car and try to activate multiple peaks: W6/NC-209, W6/NC-221, W6/NC-178, W6/NC-265, and W6/NC-191. I figured this route would involve about 5-6 hours of driving and arranged it so that the longest drive would be on the way back to San Francisco, anticipating that this would be in the dark since it’s winter. The car rental office opened at 08:00 and sunset was around 17:30, so that gave me what I thought was a reasonable window to accomplish these activation. First stop: Sierra Morena.

W6/NC-209 is a one point peak that had been activated thirty times by the time I got there — but zero times by me, so it was fair game. I drove to the Skeggs Point parking lot (37.410813,-122.305973), parked, and walked 100m N along Rt 35 (Skyline blvd). I saw a sign on the left “15006” that I assumed was a residential driveway, but is the start of the fire lane corresponding to “Fir Trail” on some maps.

Left off the main road on to the fire lane at the “15006” sign.

It’s a easy walk up the trail, past some antenna installations and to a point where the trail doubles back sharp to the left and up a small hill — the peak. From parking lot to peak is about ten minutes.

Turn sharply right at that small, grey pile of rocks and up the hill following a trail.

The peak is a little clearing, surrounded by tall pines, which made a great antenna support. I just plunked down on the grass and started sending CQs. Conditions were good, and I worked a bunch of stations on both 40 and 20m. The sunspot number was dismal, but for the heck of it I put a call out on 10m and got a reply from K6EL, who I know is in the Bay Area, and who I seem to work every year when I’m visiting the region. Next stop: China Grade Benchmark, W6/NC-221.

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