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SOTA Activation: Mount Watson, Placer County, California - August 17, 2016

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On a family vacation to the Lake Tahoe Basin in Nevada and California, I was fortunate enough to Activate 4 peaks in 3 days.  This is a description of the Mount Watson Activation, number 2 in the series.  On this Activation I had the pleasure of meeting up with a "local" Activator from Reno, Nevada, K1LB - "Woody" Brown, so that we could do a joint Activation of Watson.

I had contacted Woody, K1LB, via e-mail to obtain some information on possible Activations in the Lake Tahoe Basin.  He was quite helpful, and eventually I suggested that perhaps we could do a joint Activation or 2.  We settled on Mount Watson, W6/NS-147, in the NW quadrant of the Lake Tahoe Basin, on the California side.  Mount Watson is an 8 point SOTA summit, of 8,424 feet / 2,568 meters, that is virtually a "drive-up" if you have a 4X4 or a high clearance AWD vehicle.  Otherwise one can drive most of the way to the summit on a good quality forest service paved road, and walk the rest of the way on the "jeep road".

The access to Watson is from SR 267, north of Kings Beach, California, on the northern shore of Lake Tahoe.  From Brockway Summit on SR 267, we turned left (west) on to the paved Watson Road, and drove about 6.6 miles from SR 267 to the "Jeep Road" leading to Mount Watson summit.  We started driving up the Jeep Road, and soon it was getting rougher and very rutted.  We elected to pull off at one of the few spots we found that would accommodate Woody's large SUV.  This was about 1/2 way up the jeep road to the summit.  We walked the rest of the way in timber on the Jeep Road. The Activation Zone is quite large owing to the relatively flat and broad summit formation of Mount Watson.  There was more than ample room for both of us to set up, and not interfere with each other.

I set up for 40M SSB, using my trusty 40M & 20M Linked Dipole, slung from my 25 foot carbon fiber fishing pole.  I also has my 2M FM radio with me and managed 2 2M contacts before my "freshly charged" batteries gave out.  I later found out that the charging chord was cut at the line choke, and I was not aware of the break.  I had been "charging" my batteries to no effect!  Luckily my LiPo batteries for HF had plenty of "juice".

At the same time Woody, K1LB, was working away efficiently and quietly on CW, making 34 contacts in toughly the same amount of time as I managed 9 contacts on SSB & FM...a lesson to be learned: K7MAS needs to go to CW operations!

We had tentatively targeted Mount Pluto, another 8 point SOTA summit in the vicinity, but time had run short, and the weather was apparently changing, so we called it a good Activation, broke down the equipment and headed back down to Lake Tahoe.  En route, I decided to race the approaching T-Storms, and try and Activate Slide Mountain, W7N/WC-004, in Nevada, just across the state line.  Woody was nice enough to hand draw an approach map, which helped me get the job done...but that is for another report.

On Watson, I worked: K6SMO; KD7S; KK6VLV; W5CU/0; W7WHY; K6ON; K6ACJ; all on 40M and KC7HBD and KF7YQD on 2M FM.  Thank you one and all. I appreciate each and every SOTA contact I make.