ViewVoting details

SOTA Activation: Ryan Mountain, Riverside County, California - February 1, 2016

K7MAS's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Spotty, may not work at all
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Spotty, may not work at all
Cellular Provider: 

Winter Adventures in Joshua Tree National Park, California.  On a recent trip to California to visit family, we took some time to visit Joshua Tree National Park, and Activate a couple SOTA peaks.  We made the town of Twenty Nine Palms our base, "roughing it" in the relatively new Holiday Inn Express facility, and making day excursions on February 1 & 2.  This is report 1 of 2, detailing Activation of Ryan Mountain.

Coming right in the middle of a strong El Niño event spanning January 30 to February 1, our nighttime drive on 01/31/16 from West LA to Twenty Nine Palms was punctuated by torrential downpours, wind gusts to 60 MPH and bouts of wet snow on the highlands above the Coachella Valley & Palm Springs. 

Our objective for Feb. 1, 2016, was Ryan Mountain, a 4 point SOTA summit, right in the middle of JTNP.  We awoke to a beautifully sunny morning, with the very strong winds remaining.  The forecast called for temperatures between 37 degrees and 42 degrees during the day, and predicted wind gusts to 50 MPH.  Anticipating winter weather in JTNP, we were prepared with many layers of clothing, gloves and wool hats.  Having been to Ryan Mountain before (non-SOTA), we remembered some rock formations at the summit which might shelter us from the strong W-NW winds.  If promised to be a cold Activation.

Ryan Mountain is reached via a well-constructed 3 mile RT trial, gaining about 1,100 feet.  There is much information on JTNP on line, and the paved roads in the park are great.  See:

Mainly because of the wind and cold, we made swift work of the trail, arriving at the summit within 50 minutes.  Amazingly, there were a few other people on trail, including a woman wearing capris and canvas sneakers, without socks, and a man wearing shorts, and rapidly turning blue.

The views from the top are stunning.  Arrayed before us were sweeping 360 degree views of the entire JTNP, Coachella Valley to the west, including the Palm Springs metroplex, and the monarchs of Southern California, San Gorgonio at over 11,000 feet elevation and San Jacinto Peak, at over 10,000 feet.  Both were resplendant with a nice winter coat of snow.  Because of the El Niño this year, there seems to be much more snow than in the last several years in the high mountains.  To the north and east were arrayed the hazy peaks of Mojave National Preserve.  A universe of SOTA peaks, waiting future Activations...  

We tried 2M FM, without success, and rapidly set up the HF rig for 40M operation, using the 25 foot carbon fiber pole, supporting a 20M & 40M linked dipole.  We found a spot behind a pile of rocks about 150 feet from the summit, which afforded some protection from the wind and cold.  All of my contacts were on 40M.  Thank you so much to my chasers and those I worked.  They were: WB7NMZ; KG6ALK; AG6CU; W7ZXQ; AF6LJ; WK6U; KI6JL; WD6DYP.