My sixth SOTA activation is in the books and just as I mentioned in the activation alert last week, a fisherman who keeps trying for the one that got away, may eventually land it. So unlike my first attempt of Centennial Cone back in April, I finally caught it.
I’m not sure I could have picked a better day weather wise to try this summit. When I arrived at the trailhead just before 7 AM, it was a brisk 42 degrees. I started out with just a lightweight jumper and gloves. Much of the hike up I was on the shadow side of the mountain.
The trail from trailhead to summit is 2.1 miles. The first 1.5 miles of trail (Elk Range Trail) is actually a park service road/double track mountain biking trail. The trail was in great shape and makes up part of a loop trail which goes all the way around the open space park.
Unfortunately, there is no official defined trail to the summit of Centennial Cone. I chose an approach which I had read about and even found some helpful GPS tracks and waypoints someone else had posted online. The last half-mile to the summit requires bushwhacking your way to the summit.
I reached the summit just after 9 AM (yes I’m a slow hiker) and just spent the first 10 minutes or so taking in the beauty. From the summit I could see the Denver skyline to my east and had a nice view of several snowcapped 14’ers to my west.
I had read about the possibility of seeing ladybugs on the summit of Centennial Cone. In the late summer, ladybugs make these lower Colorado summits home in the late summer. The ladybugs I did see were huddled in between the cracks of the rocks when I first arrived.
While I’m a slow hiker, I did arrive with plenty of time to spare so I took time to sign the summit log and snap a photo of the USGS summit marker.
Once I managed to catch my breath and take in all the sights, I began setting up the HF gear. I found what was left of a dead tree stump and secured the mast around it which saved some time and avoided the need of setting up guy ropes. This is one advantage to the lower summits.
After a quick check and minor adjustments for optimum SWR readings, I connected the Elecraft KX3 and powered on. The 20m band was alive with signals up and down the band. This was both a good thing, but also bad as a strong net station was operating on 14.343 and causing a little QRM problem on the HFPack QRP calling frequency of 14.342.5.
I made a slight adjustment to my plan and found a clear frequency around 14.332 and began calling CQ. Also, while there are no restrictions of self-spotting SOTA activations and having data access on my iPhone, I sent a tweet to Twitter announcing my location.
The first QSO went into the log at 1600 UTC (10 AM local) and was with K5BAH in Louisiana and 10 minutes later I logged my 4th QSO which made this activation official.
Around 1630 UTC the net taking place on 14.343 had wrapped up and I started calling CQ on 14.342.5 which worked out nicely as I logged another 20 QSO’s to total 24 for the morning and began packing up around 1715 (11:15 AM local).
While I didn’t work any DX, I did work stations in the following states: LA, MI, AR, NV, TX, KS, AZ, CO, CA, NY, NC, MO, VA, IN, NJ and Alberta Canada.
On the way back down I stumbled across this large skeleton of what I believe is the remains of an elk. While there were the normal signs posted at the trailhead alerting users that black bear and mountain lion could be in the area. I really didn’t think about this until I found this guy. I decided to quickly vacate this area just in case it was used as a regular food cache.
All-in-all, this was a great day for a hike and SOTA activation. By the way, this was the maiden trip for my new Kelty Redwing panel loading pack. I recently blogged about “Choosing a Backpack for SOTA” and must report that the pack worked out great and was very comfortable. My next quest is in finding some better fitting hiking boots.
Until next time…
73 de KDØBIK