One of our favorite summit hikes along the front range of Colorado is Devils Head lookout tower (W0C/FR-051). This hike is about 1.5 miles one way with 900 feet of vertical gain. See my summer trip report from July 2012 for more information on the hike. This year we activated the summit in winter.
One problem with this trail is that it has become extremely popular in the summer months. The actual summit and lookout tower is not very big and can get very crowded. This is tolerable for hiking but can make a Summits On The Air (SOTA) activation difficult. It certainly is not a “get away from it all” experience.
Recently, Brad/WA6MM pointed out that the summit is still accessible now (in late November) and the crowds have all disappeared. Note that the trailhead will be difficult to access starting December 1st (see the Devils Head forest service page).
We took highway 67 out of Sedalia, then south on Rampart Range Road (FS 300) to the well-marked side road that goes to the trailhead . The forest service roads had 6 to 8 inches of snow on them but we were able to drive our 4WD pickup truck to the trailhead without any problem. The trail was also snow covered but walking in high-top hiking boots worked just fine. We had our microspikes along in case of ice but did not use them.
As you can see from the photos, it was a bright sunny day…wonderful day to be out hiking in the mountains. Temperature was about 25 degrees F but very light wind.
We met a total of four other parties on the trail, so not very busy.
Once on top, we started calling on 146.52 MHz with many stations responding. That summit has good line-of-sight to Denver and the other front range cities. As things quieted down on 2 meters, I switched to 446.0 MHz and worked a bunch of stations there, too. We were using the small TYT 2m/70cm mobile transceiver (which I recently repaired) and yagi antennas for 2m and 70cm. I also had my 23cm HT and Comet yagi with me and managed to work Paul/W0RW on 1294.5 MHz, about 33 miles (53 km) away in Colorado Springs.
Here is my log from the activation:
Joyce worked a subset of these stations. In particular, she was very happy to work three women. She has been referring to these contacts as “F2F” for “female to female.” On this activation, her F2F QSOs were: Annette/KA0JKZ, Sharon/KC0PBR and Barbara/W0BJE. Way to go, ladies!
We’ve made a note to do this summit again next year, after the crowds are gone. It is a really nice early winter hike. Thanks to everyone that worked us on the summit.
73 Bob K0NR