When I think of deserts and California my mind immediately goes to thoughts of the southern deserts such as Mojave so the ND designator (for Northern Desert) was an education in of itself. The Northern Desert is actually a part of the Great Basin Desert and exists because the Sierra Nevada mountains block moisture traveling west to east. Bald Mnt (ND-012) sits east of Mammoth just east of highway 395.
Here is a view looking north on the ascent up to the activation zone.
One of my activation goals was to use 40m in addition to 20m as I wanted to give my fellow W6-ers a chance at points etc if interested. I had experimented with a Buddipole vertical configuration at home that uses one large coil and the Rigid Shock 5 section 32″ version which is over 210″ when extended. It was easy to reconfigure from 40m to 20m and simply required lowering the extensible base by 6″ and by passing the coil. I was very happy with the SWR (~1.2-1.4 on 20/40m) (checked with the iPortable SWR meter that has proven great as well). With no breeze this is a vertical and the slightest breeze has this thing whipping in the air and assuming various shapes almost to an L at times.
I used my KX3 and Hardrock 50 and achieved two 40m contacts and 7 on 20m. One of the 40m was a SOTA-SOTA contact with K6EL who I think was located on a peak that is visible from my condo in San Francisco which generated a chuckle out of me.
On a previous non radio trip to Bald Mnt I “discovered” a hut for hikers to stay in if the conditions are bad or just want to stay the night. It’s a really nice looking place with sleeping areas, canned food and not sure if this type of “accommodation” is normal in the Western States but looked pretty cool.
I enjoyed this activation a lot and quick conclusions are;
- 40m was easy to setup but I had hoped for more than two contacts but in fairness it was mid week and people have day jobs!
- Solo activations certainly have a different feel than when hiking in with a buddy. My desire to pack up and get out was more acute!
- My experiments with a new guying system based on these MSR parts was disappointing. Bulk was down but the tension was easily lost and it was a pain to get the 8″ vertical pole established.
- My combined gear was still pretty heavy and needs further thought on reduction
- Cell coverage was spotty but worked in the end