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Epic Birthday Activation of Mount Bachelor - Romance and QRP can coexist

ND7PA's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Don't know

I'd had an idea for a while to treat my wife with a combo SOTA/romance trip
to Mt. Bachelor. During the summer, they have what they call "Sunset Dinners"
at the Pine Marten Lodge. This lodge is at the terminus of the Pine Marten chair
lift at 7775ft. My idea was to take the lift to the lodge in the morning, summit
and do SOTA stuff, then hike back to the lodge for a nice dinner. Well, things
got busy and I decided to do it next year. But my better half secretly booked
the restaurant reservation for my birthday (9/1) and thus this trip began.

Arriving at the Mountain Gateway building at 11am, we got our tickets ($17 ea.)
for the Pine Marten Express lift and hopped on. Fifteen minutes later we are at the
lodge without breaking a sweat. From there we traversed about 1 mile east on the
Summit Crossover service road to a point just past the Sunrise Express lift. This
is where we caught the hiking trail that starts for most folks at the Sunrise Lodge.
BTW, the traverse actually looses about 500ft in elevation as it traverses from
Pine Marten to the top of the Sunrise lift.

There is a small, somewhat damaged sign in the tree-lined ridge just behind the
Sunrise lift that marks the hiking trail. Once on the trail, it is very easy
to follow. The trail is quite steep in places with some rock scrambling. However,
there is no other reasonable way to the top.

I had found very little in the way of hiker logs about climbing Bachelor. I found
two trip reports; the last one posted in 2009. Despite the apparent lack of interest
in this mountain, I would consider it to be greatly undervalued in both quality of
trail and the view from the top. Maybe it seems pointless to climb a mountain that
in another season could be summited by riding a chair lift. I think Bachelor is a
awesome peak to climb. I'll be back.

We met about 20 people going up and down the mountain. It was not at all deserted.
Most were like us and thought that they would see nobody there.

I always get a lot of wise cracks about my DK9SQ mast that sticks out of my pack.
Folks inform me of the fishing conditions or that I had better have a strong line
to launch that kite.

My wife goaded me into taking the time to explain this unusual sport. I'm kinda
introverted and shy about this nerdy pursuit. However, on this trip I learned to
simply explain to folks what I was doing and the ideas behind it. The reactions
were always positive. One couple had fond memories of the hams who kept them in
contact with the outside world on their sailing trip to New Zealand back in the
day when there were no satellite phones.

Many people are curious to know who I talk to and how far away they are. This
starts some good conversations as well. I have come to realize that we have a
great platform to expose the general public to our hobby. We have the opportunity
to portray ham radio as a exciting, challenging hobby shared by those who are
enjoying life outdoors. This is a far cry from many of those I see at hamfests.
'Nuf said!

Back to the story.... About 2.5 or 3 hours after leaving Pine Marten, we arrive at
the summit. Its pretty large and treeless with big rocks scattered all over. The
views are exceptional for 360 degrees. The wind was gusting 20-30mph but it was
very sunny and about 60 degrees. A perfect day to play radio!

I had fashioned a guy collar from a piece of maple to attach three guy lines for
my mast. This went up pretty well when I got the bottom of the mast wedged
into the rocks just right. A small rock windbreak was used to help support the
mast and to shield us from the wind. I used cheap nylon string from the hardware
store for my guys. Two of these were cut by the rocks just like a knife. Next time,
I'll use sheathed lines.

The antenna and rig were up and on the air about one hour late. After a few calls,
I got spotted and it was feeding time at the zoo. Conditions seemed really good.
Signal reports were good. It was tricky to talk to fellow hikers and keep up
the QSOs but I managed. My wife helped handle most of the questions while she
also made the bottom of the mast stay put. She is the best antenna mast holder ever.

Apparently there were multiple SOTA stations on the frequency that I could not hear.
All I could hear was stations who seemed to be calling me. I need to get better at
clearly identifying myself when working stations at a rapid pace. Sorry if I messed
anyone up by my ineptness. Still learning on this end.

After about an hour, I signed off and we headed down the mountain. We arrived back
at the Pine Marten lodge 20 minutes before our dinner reservations at 5:45. We went
into the restrooms, washed off the dust and grit then went to our table. It was
a hoot sitting with other well-dressed folks while we were in our hiking duds, dusty
boots, and backpacks.

While the radio operations were QRP that day, dinner was QRO for sure. I had
the Chimmichurri Flat Iron Steak with Blistered Asparagus and Creamy Tasso Grits.
Oh yeah, topped it off with a couple of pints of good IPA and the Oregon Hazelnut-
Chocolate Torte with a birthday candle in it. Absolutely killer dinner. Happy
56th to me.

Afterwards, we went to the balcony and watched the sunset. Couldn't help but be
filled with great gratitude for love, life, food, and QRP. I was diagnosed with
B-Cell lymphoma in October last year. On April 24, I finished 18 weeks of R-CHOP
chemotherapy. It was tough. But I'm coming back. Cancer may get me someday, but
today, I win. So happy to be well and strong again.

We took the chairlift down in the twilight. They supply blankets to keep you warm
on the way down! We drove back to the 7th Mountain Resort where they had upgraded
us to a nice condo. Amazing. What a birthday.

View of brokentop while ascending Mt Bachelor
Sisters, Broken Top, Mt. Washington while ascending
Handing out 10 pointers from the summit
Finest SOTA assistant anywhere
Dinner was QRO!
The end to a perfect SOTA birthday