Black Mountain W6/CT-181

updated 2021-01-02

Activated: 2017-01-03

SOTA activating has a lot of glorious moments. DX with five watts, successfully testing a new antenna, meeting good friends on-air, and more. Even though this peak was a first activation (always a cause for celebration) it was not one of those moments . . . .

View of Black Mountain
View of Black Mountain from below.

If I had to describe the experience of hiking Black Mountain I would have to compare it to making love to a very, very hairy woman: you certainly could, but you shouldn’t. And if you try then by the time you realize your mistake you will be too far along to quit, and will simply have to see it through and finish her off.

The “trail” to the top of this peak is a series of old roads and horse trails that are now mostly taken over by heavy, scratchy (hairy) brush. By the time I finished I felt like I had been scrubbed by steel wool for the previous few hours.

View of Black Mountain from the base
View of Black Mountain from the ground, with a partial trail in the foreground

I would be very interested to find out what used to be out here when these roads were built. There are no dwellings or ruins that I saw, but a series of old roads go through the area.

Trail up a SOTA peak for ham radio
The “trail” is really just a mostly obscured old road.

In spite of the trail conditions, the views heading up to the top are quite pretty. You basically follow fragments of trail and road counterclockwise around the mountain until you start losing altitude, at which point you do a hard left to the east and go cross-country to the top.

View of the side of a hill
The flanks of the mountain are densely packed with scrub brush.

Once you start heading up the hill things get ugly quickly. You have to crawl and thrash your way through the scrub brush. I came away with more than a few scratches. The funny part of the hike was when I got to the top and realized that the brush had “stolen” my camera right out of my shirt pocket. (Hence, no photos of the activation.)

Partial trail
Looking back down the hill. There is a partial trail here and there, but it is mostly gone

The activation went well though. With a spot out on the net I had a few chasers on VHF and quickly had a bunch of contacts in the log. On the way down the hill I even located my camera – hanging from a particularly hairy bit of brush.

View fo the Temecula Valley
Beautiful view of morning fog in the Temecula valley

They can’t all be beautiful mountains and picturesque hikes. Sometimes you just have to cover your eyes, hold your nose, and plow on in. And apply some ointment afterwards . . . .