Trail report from 12-29-17:
San Gabriel Peak was a great hike for many reasons. First, after three years of being chased by Jeff Widen (K6QCB) and Charles (KM6CEM) we finally had a chance to meet up and do an activation together. For our first outing together we elected to pick off a couple peaks that were close to one another and not far from Charles’ QTH. We were blessed with excellent weather, great conversation with one another and QSO’s with many SOTA chasers across the area and US. The following is my five-point trail report:
1- Parking & Road Conditions – The road to the parking area is paved. So long as the road is not covered in snow then any passenger car will suffice. As seen in the video, the parking area at Eaton Saddle is rather large and very well marked. You really can’t miss this one.
2- Trail Conditions – The first part is a closed forest road and has a nice easy grade. There is a cool tunnel to make fun sounds in and some shade along the way. Once you get to the first junction then you veer to the trail on the right and up. From there it becomes a single track trail that is easily navigable. You could easily do this one at night with just a little skill and a good headlamp. At the second junction you again go right and up to the summit. Once at the summit you have stellar views and a nice bench to sit on.
3- VHF v HF – Charles and Jeff both grabbed enough VHF contacts to make it work and I had some great pile ups on 20m. The peak itself isn’t that large but a push up pole for HF wires can be done as I did. With the volume of VHF traffic we have in So Cal it’s easy to get your contacts on 146.520 FM or just hop on a local repeater and ask people to QSY to simplex to make your 4 contacts.
4- APRS & Cell – I was able to use my cell phone and APRS to spot. APRS was better of course and my carrier is currently Sprint. I was able to get my spots out on the SOTAGOAT app.
5- Extra info – There is no shade on the summit nor water along the trail so plan accordingly. If you must activate this peak in the summer then I suggest doing a very early morning or even a night hike but watch for snakes and other wildlife.