SOTA Summit: W6/SD-044, Pt. 5352
Trail: No – steep cross country scramble
Hike: Short .75 miles to summit.
Elevation gain: 700 feet
Self Spot: Yes via AT&T, SOTA Goat
Files: GPX, KML & CalTopo
As mentioned in my previous activation report for W6/SD-039 my eleven year old son, William N6WMG and I were headed to Joshua Tree National Park for a Boy Scout campout and rock climbing trip. It’s a trip we’ve done before with the Troop and decided this time we’d bookend the trip with two summit activations. We choose W6/SD-039, Pt. 5540 (6 points) for late Friday and W6/SD-044, Pt 5352 (4 points) for Sunday on the way home.
See my previous post for details on the area, driving information etc.
Sunday morning after packing up we headed back out the dirt roads into the north-western area of the park known as the Covington Flats. While we spilt the two summits in this area due to time constraints I expect most people would do both as a pair in the same afternoon.
When you reach the split in the road for the two summits head left towards the picnic area. If you have someone along with you that does not want to hike there is a picnic table at the turnaround. No shade, but a nice place to sit and relax. Just keep in mind this is a remote area. They will be sitting there by themselves while you are up on the summit.
Pt 5352 is easy to spot to the east above the parking turn around. Will and I grabbed our gear and formulated our plan of attack for the ridge.
A backpacking trail intersects with the turn around but there is no trail to the summit. To access the summit it is cross country with a small bit of scramble. As long as you are comfortable with navigating steep terrain both up and down you are good to go. Will and I chose a relatively direct approach. You may be able to mitigate the steepness a bit if you are willing to hike farther around though we did not scout it out. As for navigation, it is easy, you can see your target the whole time.
Will and I ascended to the ridge just a bit north west of the summit and then followed the ridge south for the final few feet of elevation gain. It was windy up on top but we found a perfect operating area with large rocks to shield us from the wind. We made sure to beacon ourselves on APRS so the family at home knew we made it safely and went about setting up the gear.
We used a LNR Precision Trail Friendly End Fed elevated on a 20 foot sectional pole and our KX3. We set up the antenna running north to south hoping that would give us access to a good potion of the USA. (We are still trying to understand how to best use the gear.)
We quickly logged 15 chasers on 20 meters with good signal reports. Switching to 40 meters we added another 6 chasers. After 30 minutes of SOTA activity we had logged 21 chasers and were getting ready to pack up and prepare to hike down and take our 2.5 hour drive back to Newport Beach.
We were fortunate to have clear skies with temperatures in the high fifties. There are panoramic views of the whole park as well as south towards San Jacinto and west towards San Gorgonio from the summit. This is a neat area of the park free from hoards of other people. You get a good sense of being out there by yourself. The only other trace of humans we found on the summit were the distinct foot prints from Ron W6PZA who had activated the same summit just a few days prior. First rain and all our footprints will be gone.
Thanks to all the chasers.
If you are looking for for some SOTA fun in Joshua Tree Park these are two convenient summits to put together in a single outing. The drive out on the dirt roads just adds to the adventure. After these summits you can head further down CA 62 into the main park area and enjoy the rest that Joshua Tree has to offer.
See Activation report for W6/SD-039, Pt. 5540
I’ve marked the dirt road back to W6/SD-039 & W6/SD-044 on CalTopo.
Road to trail head: CalTopo