Sunday, November 27, 2011


Kerry (K3RRY), Jack (KJ6EVI) and I (AE6RF) made a "fly by" of Fremont Peak with an eye to activating it as part of the 4H Radio Project and Summits On The Air (SOTA).

The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold, no wind. (Unlike other visits to that locale...)

Wind and blowing fog at Fremont Peak

We had great panoramic views at all points during the hike, San Juan Batista, Santa Cruz Mountains, the Monterey Bay, Salinas, all perfect and reasonably clear. Every 10 yards brought a new "oh wow" view.

Selected photos from trip

I'm obese and out of shape. No excuses, I need to thank Jack and Kerry for their patience as I took breaks along the way. The climb was a bit steeper than I've been able to practice over the last month or two (time change and weather).

It was a great afternoon with a couple of unanticipated adventures...

First off, while talking with the ranger in the parking lot, she got a radio call and went haring up the road we were going to be hiking on. (That's not good).

We did about the first 1/5th of the hike and then heard a siren. (That's really not good).

At about 1/3 we saw a CalSTAR air ambulance circling for a landing (That's really, REALLY not good).

I flipped my HT over to CalCord ( the typical frequency for ground-to-air ambulance communications around here). There they were... "Female patient, 52 years, victim of a fall, head injury with lacerations and a large hemotoma behind the ear. Probable LOC..."

We kept going until we got to the base of the final climb to the peak (rock scrambling/climbing...). The first responders were there discussing how they were going to a) get the patient and b) get her down. We could see the site about 90 feet directly above us, up a 30-45 degree slope.

With CAL FIRE, Cal State Parks, AMR, and CalSTAR personnel all over the peak above us, we decided to stay put and have some lunch. It took about 45 minutes for the various personnel to get the lady down off the Peak. They wound up with a rope and walk method down the 30-45 degree slope that we were having lunch under. (We moved rapidly once it became clear they were heading for us.)

With the patient heading for the (normal) ambulance to take them to the air ambulance, we resumed our hike, encountering Ms Ranger again, still wearing her trauma backpack. She gave us sound advice for climbing up and down and kidded us to be careful because she didn't want to come back up again that afternoon...

We were able to watch the air ambulance take off, from our perch on Fremont Peak. The helicopter started roughly 300' below us! (Loading the video to YouTube as I type.)

Video of CALSTAR take off

We started up the final climb. It quickly turned into a "Stairs of Cirith Ungol" adventure.

Rock stairs, steeper rock stairs, rock scrambling, steeper rock scrambling. Hands and feet rock climbing,

and then... THE TOP!

The view was worth every minute of the climb. Plus the awesome feeling of being someplace where I never thought I'd be. We spend about 20 minutes at the summit of the Peak making 4 radio contacts (N1WC, W6DNE, KE6AFE, and KG6WIL, 3 simplex, one possible repeater) to see what the conditions were like. (We had great coverage on 2m FM, but signals from the nearby radio towers would interfere at times.)

I "hands and feet"ed and rode my rump down from the peak back to the merely "steeper rock stairs."

At that point we started our trip back down the hill. But not before encountering an old friend.

Three years ago during the California QSO Party, we were visited by a tarantula. He came out Sunday afternoon to see us off as we were leaving.
Video of CQP tarantula

Turns out he heard we were coming and wandered all the way from the Doe campground to the Peak to visit with us today. We all said hello, he waved goodbye and we parted ways. Hopefully for another chat again soon...

We arrived at the truck during early sunset, so had a brief snack and enjoyed the beautiful colors before starting for home...

GREAT FUN was had by all!

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