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SOTA Activation: Tahtlum Peak, Yakima County, Washington - August 16, 2015

K7MAS's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Decent, workable
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Don't know
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Don't know

An 8 point SOTA Summit, activated on a beautiful, clear summer day, with good company, a successaful activation and capped off with a bracing swim in Dewey Lake made for a very memorable outing.  Approximately 6.25 Miles total travel and 2,100 feet gain, including the side trip to Dewey Lake, and climb out of the lake basin back to PCT / Naches Peak Loop Trail junction.

On a beautiful Sunday morning we departed the TH at Chinook Pass at approximately 9:00 AM, just ahead of the hordes of hikers that would be on the PCT / Naches Peak Loop later in the day.  The recent thunderstorms, rain and wind cleared out much of the haze that would otherwise have filtered over from the fires raging in various eastern parts of the state at this time.  We made quick work of the PCT portion of the route, despite the dogs taking a swim in a little pond along the way. We reached the obvious XC route beginning, turning almost due east towards Tahtlum Peak, in short order.  This point is just east of point 6,046 on the map.  Despite the previous reports describing circumventing on the south the two "bumps" along the ridge trending towards the base of Tahtlum Peak, we decided to go up and over them.  From the top of the second "bump" we had to drop 210 feet on a steepish rotten slope between the cliff bands.  Not too difficult, but easily avoided by travelling a little to the south, below the "bumps".  From the low spot on the ridge, we ascended 830 feet on west ridge and then NW face of Tahtlum Peak to the summit.  We found the summit as described, a smallish flat gravel area of about 6 X 6 feet, with cliffs on three sides.

The views from the summit were amazing: dominant Mount Rainier's east face, south to Mount Adams and Goat Rocks, SW to squat Mount Saint Helens and hundreds of other peaks near and far with a 360 degree vista all around.

While my companions, both not Ham's, sacked out and ate lunch in the sun, with hardly a slight breeze, I descended about 30 feet vertical to the north, in order to set up my Operating Position.  There was not enough room on the summit to set up an HF station, with an Inverted V dipole for 40M + 20M.  I found a pleasant little bench, with a small stunted evergreen, sufficient to support my 25 foot carbon fiber fishing pole and the wire antenna.  I made a total of 9 - 40M contacts in about 1/2 hour of operating.  After breaking down the HF gear, on a lark, I called CQ on 2M FM, and to my delight, I worked WW7D, on his way to an activation of Chinook Peak, several miles to the NW.  I also learned that my friend Tim, KG7EJT was attempting a Crystal Mountain activation, also a few mile NW.  Although I did not manage a S2S contact with them, I did work both of them later in the afternoon, while they were on their respective summits, and I was on the climb up from Dewey Lake.

The crystal blue waters of Dewey Lake(s), about 1,440 feet below us, beckoned powerfully on the sun splashed summit, so we decided to go for a swim.  Descending from the summit block to the west ridge of Tahtlum Peak, we then dropped about 1,250 feet in about a half mile down the south face of Tahtlum Peak directly to Dewey Lake.  There we enjoyed a half hour of swimming in the very "bracing" water.  The dogs, especially Dexter the SOTA Dog (being a Labrador Retriever), enjoyed retrieving sticks from the lake.  We then climbed out of the lake basin some 730 feet to the junction of PCT and the Naches Peak Loop Trail, where we had taken off XC a few hours before.  An uneventful return to the TH along the PCT ensued.  On this last stretch of the hike, the expected hordes of hikers were out enjoying the fantastic weather and great views typical of this very popular area.

Thank you very much to the Chasers, and all of my Contacts: W6FHZ; KI6DL; WA6LVX; W7ZHO; KC0PDJ; K6JMQ/7; AA6SC; NS7K (all 40M ssb) and WW7D, 2M FM. 

Telephoto of Tahtlum Peak from TH just below Chinook Pass