SOTA Therapy: Five Summits, Two Days

I am a week delayed in documenting this adventure, however, I had to write about it. I went back to my QTH near Santa Fe on Father's Day weekend for some SOTA therapy. I needed to fuel my addiction. There is a great SOTA community in Santa Fe and the surrounding area. The area boasts four SOTA Goats (SOTA Progaram Activator Award), KT5X, KE5AKL, NM5S and the most recent K1JD. Needless to say any non-goats must understand that there are certain expectations. Accordingly, I hooked up with Doc, K7SO on the weekend to try to gain some ground on attaining, Goat Status.

On day one, Saturday, we activated three summits, Don Fernando (W5N/SS-024), 10900 (W5N/SS-019) and Greenie Peak (W5N/SS-015). These are all 10 point summits. My XYL, Cris, was also along to provide support and take few pictures.The equipment for the day was an FT-817, 20/40m EFHW for me and Doc had a KX3 with a 43 ft. random wire and a  9 to 1 balun. The weather was nice, clear to partly cloudy skies with 30 mph winds. The windy conditions put a haze in the air which dimmed the views a bit, but still not a bad day to be in the mountains.

The first two summits are east of  Taos, NM. Doc and I had done these summits before and with the coordinates where to park, getting these summits activated was a matter of course. Each requires relative short hikes to the top, but bushwhacking is the order of the day, with the ascent of Summit 10900 being the most diffiicult of the two. There are lots of downed trees that have to be navigated.

The main obstacle of the day was a recently fallen tree that blocked the road to Summit 10900. Not worry, my Jeep was able to get around the tree with a little off roading. A longer wheel base vehicle would have had trouble getting around. BTW, the jeep came in handy all day long, the roads we travelled had sections that the 4WD and high clearance came in handy.

We did see some wildlife during these activation, including several Elk, Whitetail Deer and some turkey.

Getting to Greenie Peak was more of challenge than we expected.  Greenie Peak is near Red River, NM, which is an hour plus drive from Summit 10900. I had done the peak in the past, but a friend had taken me there on a Razor, a two passenger ATV, and I didn't pay much attention. Consequently when the GPS sent us up the wrong road I willingly followed. This road was a 4WD only road, with warnings, and a sign that said "Exploration Road". Well, we were in search of Goat status, so onward and upward. The road was a one lane, rock filled, steep, hairpin switchbacks to a small summit only big enough to turn the Jeep around on. Sorry Doc, but this is not Greenie Peak. Back down we went. Finally found the road, made the Greenie Peak summit. To expedite the activation we only set up one rig and Doc and I alternated contacts. We worked the pile untill CQ's went unanswered and called it a day.

I had left my house at 7:30 am that morning to drive north to pick up Doc and finally got home that night at 10:30 pm. A 15 hour day of SOTA therapy. I was tired, but I did feel good about getting 30 activator points for the day.

Sunday was a new day, with two summits on the agenda. Barrillas Peak (W5N/PW-022) and Bear Benchmark (W5N/PW-014).  Doc was using this KX3 set-up again, but I swithed the the AT4-S, KD1JV designed CW only radio. The weather was a duplicate of the day before, but the wind had diminished considerably.

The hope was to get these two done and get a home alittle earlier. Barillas went off without a hitch. There is a firetower on top, with nice views. Propagation was good, but it was Father's Day, so I think a few of the chasers were occupied with other activities.

Getting to Bear Benchmark proved a little more challenging. My GPS is set-up for the shortest route which is good most of the time, but not for this day. We followed a road for several miles only to come to a locked gate with "No Trepassing" signs all over it. Bummer. It was getting late in the day and I felt that we wouldn't make the summit in time. We turned around, somewhat disappointed and headed back down. However, when we got back to the main road, I wanted to find the right road at least. We reentered coordinates and the GPS point us a different direction, which to make a long story short, was the right direction. Once on the right road, we decided to go for it and when finally reached the firetower atop Bear Benchmark, the determination was rewarded. We, again, only set-up one station, and took turns calling CQ until we had worked down the pile.

I made it home just in time to watch my favorite basketball team, the San Antonio Spurs put a beat down on the Miami Heat and win the NBA Championship. A good day indeed.

Below is a brief  video of our adventure. I must give credit to Cris who gets credit for putting this together.

Mike Crownover, AD5A, is a regular contributor to and writes from Texas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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