Adventures in ham radio

“Mt. Electric” (W7W/PL-165) is a small hill on a logging property with easy, non-motorized access to the summit along a logging road. This one-point summit has pretty good views overlooking the Naselle River and parts of the Naselle Valley. This is an ideal summit to activate by mountain bike.

“Mt. Electric” was the second of two SOTA summits I activated on the way to the SeaPac convention in Seaside Oregon. First I activated Cowan Lookout (W7W/PL-141), some 6 miles to the southeast, and then headed over to activate “Mt. Electric.” These two summits make a great pair of quick SOTA activations, that can be done in transit between the Washington and Oregon coasts.

The trail head is just a few minutes from the intersection of US 101 and WA 4. From that intersection, take US 101 to the west 2.25 miles and turn right onto Government Road, just before the bridge over the Naselle River.

Follow Government Road for just under 3/4 mile, and turn onto the gravel road on the right. Head straight up the road about 250 feet where it will fork. Park somewhere near that fork, but without blocking other vehicles. Alternatively, park on Government Road. A short distance past the left fork will be a gate labelled 276. The road behind that gate leads to the summit.

Before heading to Seaside, I looked up the property records for this summit. It is owned by Olympic Resource Management, and they have a public use policy that allows non-motorized access to their properties when no active logging is in progress. I called their regional office and was told that they had recently acquired this property and hadn’t put up signs any yet, but that I could use the property according to the policy.

The rest was pretty easy. After posting an alert, I mountain biked up the gravel road for 2 miles. The road is in good shape, but judging by the vegetation growing in the center, isn’t heavily used. Just after turning onto the final stretch, the road became soggy. I can imagine this being a mess during the wet season, but it was certainly passable on this day. The true summit was obvious and came with a nice grassy area around a fire pit. There were a few small trees available to help elevate antenna wire and support an antenna mast.

Earlier in the day, when I activated Cowan Lookout, I quickly made nine QSOs. So for “Mt. Electric” I brought along a single battery, thinking four QSOs would be easy. What a difference 90 minutes make! Perhaps it is because the activation came late in the day for the U.S. (at 01:30 UTC), or maybe it was because my alert was too close to the activation time, but I called CQ on 15m and 17m for a long time without a nibble. Finally, I worked N4EX on 20m, but couldn’t get anything else going on 20m. I tried 2m FM for a few fruitless minutes before going back to HF. Thirty minutes after my first QSO, I worked AE9R on 40m. I gave up after the battery consistently dropped below 10V on transmit.

This was my first time getting skunked. Nevertheless, this was a most enjoyable SOTA experience.

The return trip went quickly on a mountain bike. I look forward to a return visit of this interesting (and easy) summit.

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