Gifford Pinchot National Forest SOTA & Car Camping on Labor Day Weekend

N7KOM's picture

What a weekend! 3 summits, 38 QSOs with 16 S2S, my first QSO with WG0AT, and a joint FA with ND7Y!

My YL and I headed out to Gifford Pinchot NF for some car camping. With some intel on campsites from Tyler ND7Y, I picked a location with good proximity to some short-hike SOTA summits. 

Our first stop was a Saturday afternoon activation of Steamboat Mtn W7W/LC-020. Being a little far out from Portland Metro, I decided to start on my 3 element yagi. My first two QSOs were a set of S2S with K7IW and his father, KA7YDF on W7O/NC-076. I ended the 2m action with 6 QSOs, 4 of them S2S! A family joined me on summit while picking huckleberries and I got to Q&A about SOTA with their scout-aged kids. Definitely radio curious and maybe will be future activatiors???

I then got on 40m CW where I got 4 more QSOs and 1 S2S with KJ7LLS on W7W/CH-186. I didn't want to keep the YL waiting too long, but I figured I would send some calls on 20m. I was pleasantly surprised to hear NR7Y come back to me from Beaverton. I thought that was too close for 20M, so I made him repeat his call to make sure I'd gotten it right. A fun groundwave 20m cw QSO to end the day on!

I joined the YL and we drove down the mountain. The creekside campground I'd spied on the way up was now occupied, so we drove on. Eventually we settled on a nice little pull off next to a huckleberry field on West Twin Butte. 

On Sunday I left the YL at camp and hiked up the road with Roscoe to activate West Twin Butte W7W/LC-043. Again I reached for the yagi. Sunday turned into an impromptu 2m Summit to Summit party. With many activators on summits in Oregon one in Washington, I got 6 S2S. Things were getting a little crowded on 146.58, so I QSY'd to .56 and activators joined me there. WB7VTY on Bald Peak W7O/NC-051 was an interesting QSO. We first tried to make it happen and the best I was hearing him was pointing my yagi at Mt. Saint Helens! Always fun to hear a bounce off a volcano, but it was too noisy to complete the QSO. He ended up changing antennas and we were able to S2S, this time with me pointing the yagi in his direction. 

I set up 20m CW and when I fired up my MTR, it was on the frequency K7FOP was using. We got our second S2S of the day and I moved to find a clear frequency. The QSOs started pouring in and I got my first QSO with Steve WG0AT! I got two more S2S, first with KX0R on W0C/SR-053 and then finished the day with a S2S complete of Brundage Mountain W7I/SR-056 thanks to K7MK! 

Monday morning we broke camp and I gave out a call on the 2m mobile while rolling out. ND7Y answered and he was camped near the trailhead for the unactivated Squaw Butte W7W/LC-050. We made quick plans to meet there and do a joint first activation. Tyler ND7Y is super knowledgable about the area and it was great to chat with him during our hike. He'd gotten some beta on a cat track that leaves the trail and goes to the summit. Thanks to that info we avoided what would have certainly been a brushy bushwack. On summit I got my Rollup J-Pole up on a mast while Tyler set up his 4 element yagi. 

I was able to pull AI7NN out of the noise with a 22-33 signal report. Unfortunately when I handed the HT over to Tyler, there was some confusion in the noise and they weren't able to QSO. Next challenge was WB7VTY, which I think we just missed. I gave him a 11. Tyler tried to break into .52 rag chew with his 4 element yagi, but that was a no go. With 2m being tough work we set decided to put up the HF gear. Tyler worked digital, which I have zero experience in. It was very cool to see a totally new way (to me) of doing SOTA. While he got his 4 QSOs on 20m I got on 40m CW. 

I managed 7 QSOs with 2 S2S: N0DNF on W7I/SI-188 and WY7N on W7U/DU-019. I gave some final calls on 30m while Tyler packed up and got one more QSO. With that we packed up and headed down the trail. After lunch at the cars, Tyler gave me some route recommendations for getting back to PDX and we headed out.