PNW Campout Report

On the weekend of July 8-11, SOTA activators from California, Oregon and Washington gathered at Hyatt Lake campground in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument near Ashland, OR. Amy Hamptonstall (AG7GP) and her partner Robin (N7HAP) organized the gathering as a way for SOTA operators to get together and activate lots of summits with plenty of Summit to Summit opportunities. A total of 26 summits were activated over three days with 2 brand new operators getting their first QSO’s and first summits. 

One of the new operators, KK7HJL, is my YL, Randi. She decided to study for her tech license after going with me on several outings in Central Oregon as we pursue the Big Butte Challenge 2022, which has 4 SOTA summits. While its not a radio event per se, we have used it as a motivator to get out and activate some areas we would otherwise never visit.
Rye Spur

On our drive down to the campout we spent a night at Lake of the Woods  Aspen Point campground, which was conveniently on our route and situated a short distance to Rye Spur (W7O/CS-053). After a wonderful nights rest, we got up early to drive over to attempt the summit. The drive in took a bit due to all the brush and we took an early wrong turn. We ultimately found the parking area at the end of the road, what looks like a hunters camp, and leashed up the doggos to attempt the short 0.3 mile walk to the summit. There is not a trail to the top so its a bush wack. We tried heading straight up, but quickly hit walls of young evergreens and lots of ceanothus. We backtracked the few hundred yards and found a trail that led out the back of the camp area, that looked to head towards the Rye Spur trail that goes to the east of the summit, but unfortunately, the approach is much steeper from that side. It was difficult to move through the growth with the dogs on leashes and we didn’t trust them off leash in an area we aren’t familiar with so we had to throw in the towel in order to make it back to camp and depart by checkout time.

Upon arrival at the campout location we took our time setting up, it was quite a bit warmer than the previous day so we sat out a the picnic table in our site and had a cocktail. I setup the Buddipole and did some chasing but didn’t catch anything. We were camped next to K7MAS and his XYL. They courteously let us park the truck in part of their parking area since it wouldn’t fit int our site with the trailer. I had booked the site thinking I would be solo in our van, which would have fit swimmingly, but the trailer took up the whole area. K7MAS headed out to activate Table Mtn, a short drive from camp. We told him that Randi had just received her callsign assignment earlier that morning. I turned on the handheld and when he called CQ I answered and handed the HT to Randi. I coached her through the QSO and she did great.

That evening K7ATN made the rounds to check us in and let us know the loose plan for the weekend. Most of the clan were gathered in the A Loop sites, we were in B Loop. Amy had a whiteboard up for folks to use as a quick reference to see who was planning what the next couple of days. Since we had our dogs, we didn’t want to attempt anything that was going to require bush-wacking and Amy suggested we try Grizzly Peak, a popular day hike for folks from Ashland/Medford.

Lookout from the West side of Grizzly Peak
We slept really well and had a leisurely morning in camp. The drive to the parking area took about 45 mins. We got there just in time as 7 or 8 other vehicles rolled in behind us. We managed to find a spot in the shade to park the truck but it was pretty much the last spot in the lot, so folks just started parking on the road, this is definitely a popular trail and would probably be a better to get an earlier start that we had. Yamato, our 13 year old dachshund, was insistent about coming along for the day. Since we didn’t want to leave him alone in the truck, Randi unloaded her backpack and loaded him into it. While it wasn’t perfect, it worked really well for the 2 mile hike to the activation area. The trail is very well groomed but its no joke, it goes up quickly. We met lots of folks coming down but once we got near the top it thinned out. We found a nice spot in the shade in the AZ. We pulled out the handheld and heard W6DER calling CQ and I jumped right in. We traded off working one caller after another, it was very hectic on 146.58 with 25 activators all trying to talk to one another along with the chasers. We spent about 45 mins making contacts before the shade dissolved and the pups were getting restless so we packed up the kit and headed back down to the trail. On the return trip , we headed out towards the western side of the loop to get a great view of Ashland from above.

That evening we gathered around the campfire and organized the next days summits. We decided to try Soda Mtn on recommendation from K7MAS. Mark suggested approaching via the Pacific Crest Trail instead of walking up the road, which was a much nicer hike and less sun exposed for the doggos. The hike up went smoothly, we took a break to chat up a couple of LASH (long ass section hikers) on the PCT. The last 1/2 mile gets pretty steep on the 2 track but it was fine and the 360 degrees views from the top made it all worth while.  

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