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KR7W's First SOTA Activation - Mt Catherine, WA

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On July 15, 2012, Rich KR7W, Pat WT7N, and Chuck AC7QN went out on a conditioning day hike for an upcoming long backpack. This hike started at the Cold Creek TH, about 3 miles south on FR-9070, which begins at the Hyak Exit #54, on I-90, just E of Snoqualmie Pass. The planned destination was the summit of Mt Catherine, 5052 ft, W7W/CW-066. 

It was difficult to find a trail this early in the year that wasn't still snow covered. Since the Mt Catherine trail faced south hopes were high for a SOTA activation.

At about three miles into the hike we exited the woods and crossed FR-9070 to the Mt Catherine TH. The first 1/4 mile of this 1.3 mile trail is an abandoned road which becomes a very easy treaded National Park quality trail with many switchbacks to the top.  The last ¼ mile or so was mostly snow covered which made route finding sometimes difficult.

The summit, a small area about 5x20 ft, which was the site of some kind of radio relay site (per the www), was cloud/fog covered but the blue water of Lake Keechelus could be seen looking east along I-90.  Thunderstorms were predicted for the late afternoon.

This was my first SOTA summit activation and didn’t know quite what to expect.  I used my trusty FT-817, LiPo battery, small straight key, and home brew 20 meter vertical dipole which is a poor man’s BuddiStick equivalent.  20 meter conditions seemed very poor as I couldn’t hear anyone on the band.  Calling CQ on 14.061 raised Mark K7NEW who spotted me.  After that 5 more QSOs were in the log.  I went to SSB 14.342.5 for the SSB chasers and did not hear a response.

At 3 PM, after 40 minutes on the air it was time to quit radioing and have a bite to eat, put things away, and retreat as the fog was getting thicker.  The hike down the snow covered trail proved challenging but no serious injuries occurred.  A big thanks goes out to the chasers.  Best Regards… kr7w.