This was my first mountain bike activation of the year. Tim [N7KOM] and another friend joined me for a ride/joint activation of Cline Butte after my last failed attempt in November of 2022. I wanted to do some exploring of a new trail system based out of the Cascade View Trail head that opened in the spring of 2022 and try to connect that system to the Cline Buttes trail via some old double track that looked passable on the map. I used OnX Backcountry app to build a route and we headed out.
After making a wrong turn and correcting, we made it to the abandoned double track and began grinding through the soft sand. Fortunately another intrepid rider must have had the same idea and we were able to build upon the track already laid down in the soft earth and stayed aboard our bikes as long as we could, eventually forced to dismount and push up the steepest section of about 1/4 mile nearly straight up the hill. I opted to push through the brush, making impromptu switchbacks up the steep hill. We crested that last bit of shale and basalt onto the final road climb up to the summit.
We quickly got started setting up, Tim with his Elecraft KX2 and AX1 had his 4 contacts before I could get myself spotted. I continually struggle with the MFA tokens when logging in from Sota Goat and was unable to get the timing of copying and pasting the token from my MFA app. Tim offered to spot me so I could get on with it. We had a non-ham along and the wind was picking up so I was trying to be sensitive to how long we were on the air. I’m a lot slower at setup than Tim, so once I got the Penntek 35R on the air and spotted I quickly had a pileup to work through.
One thing I keep forgetting about the Penntek is that the audio out jack is mono only, and I have a stereo headset so I can only hear in one ear. With wind picking up and other hikers walking around, I had some troubles. Those patient enough with my bad copy all got in the log. I’ve made a mental note that I need to apply the modification to the output audio jack before my next outing so I can hear in both ears.
After about 20 mins, the wind was starting to penetrate my thin shell, and my wool base layer was soaked from the work of the climb so once I had 6 in the log, I tore down and we discussed how to get back to the vehicles. There was a lot of unexpected mud and ice on the trails on our way out and trying to be a good steward, I suggested we take a less muddy route back. Unfortunately, a lot of the property surrounding the Buttes is private land so we chose to descend along the Cline Buttes XC trail to a point were we could access the Eagle Crest subdivision and wound our way back on paved paths and roads.
Our last stop was at one of the local brew pubs in Redmond, appropriately name Wild Ride Brewing, for a cold beer and some warm fish and chips. While the thermometer said it was 50 degrees, the chill we developed on the summit took a while to relent.
Cline Buttes is a moderate hike/ride, depending on your approach. The traditional mtb route is to start off the quarry road on the east side and climb the Cline Butte XC Trail around the west side interconnecting with FAA access road to the summit. There is a short cut near the summit that keeps you on the west side of the butte and drops you out right at several big rocks that are in the AZ and can provide some wind protection. 2M can work well but having had one failed activation for lack of 2M contacts, I highly suggest bringing and HF rig as well.