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Marys Peak

NH6Z's picture

The ease of access and great operating position are some of Marys Peaks many advantages. This must be balanced, however, against the multitude of communications antennas already on the site. The 145.13 and 146.78 repeaters are on the summit in addition to a lot of USFS and other government installations. This can make the site RF noisy at times. That being said, there is a reason why the gear is up there. The site overlooks the entire valley and now that the antenna on the 145.13 repeater is repaired, it is capable of contacts with an HT all the way in Portland, at least 80 miles away.

Because it is the highest peak in the Oregon Coast mountain range, it tends to get snowy up there in the winter and is difficult to access. I visited the site around three weeks ago and the road was too snowy for my Volvo to traverse. On Friday I was talking to a friend and he had mentioned that he wanted to go up with his 4WD Toyota to see what the conditions where up there. I convinced him to let me hitch a ride with my SOTA gear on board.

Most of the snow has melted off Marys Peak by now and the road was clear except for some residual accumulation on the sides of the road. We reached the parking lot without incident and I strapped on the backpack for a short hike to the top. There is an easily followable road to the top that is gated off to prevent the general public from using it. This makes the best hiking trail up to the summit. There is some snow still on this road and it made a bit of trouble for the antenna crew working on the 145.13 repeater, but was easily hiked through by us SOTA activators.

The hike up was uneventful and I recorded it on my RunKeeper site (see The hike is around .6 miles one-way and is an elevation gain of approximately 300 ft. There is a picnic table up at the top that is ideal for an operating position. It's also on the Southeast side of the mountain where it is going to make the best signal out to the rest of the continental US.

I remembered all of my gear this time and we set up the rig on another beautifully sunny weekend in Oregon. The temperature was mild and I never felt hot but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. As noon rolled around the haze started to burn off the valley and there was an excellent view of the high peaks of the Cascades: Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, the Three Sisters and if you looked really hard, Mt. St. Helens.

All in all I ended up making 30 QSOs in approximately 1.5 hours. I think the long QSO was W4FOA in Georgia. Usually propagation into the Southeast isn't necessarily that great, but the band was doing some weird things. The Southwest, as usual, was making a great showing into the Pacific Northwest. I managed a S2S with N7CNH on Lava Butte, but missed KK7DS up north. N7JI did chime in from Eugene, though, with his gaggle of kids interested in ham radio. I spent some extra time while Scott passed the mike from child to child to give them a chance to experience some on-air time with HF.

Before leaving I introduced myself briefly to the antenna crew working on the repeater. They were interested in my portable QRP setup and were impressed by the contacts across the country. They graciously let me briefly stick my nose in the repeater shack to see what kind of gear that had up there and how it worked. Thanks to Chris (N7TVL), Chris (N7UND) and William (K7THO) of the Peak Radio Association ( for the hospitality.

It was a great day for SOTA and a great activation. I have made a commitment to myself to do one activation a weekend, if possible. I won't be activating next weekend because of the Dayton Hamvention, but I hope to hear folks on the bands over the great Oregon summer.

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