In the mountain bike world, when reviewing trail maps and usage, I am always wary of areas that haven’t had much activity. In the SOTA world, Sugarloaf Peak is one of those places. Although it was not far away from civilization and close to a very popular trail, it had only been activated 5 times before. Why? Well, now that I’ve activated the summit, I can tell you why.
If one was to hike up to this summit, it would be an all day hike for sure. At roughly 11 miles round trip, over 2,000 feet of elevation gain with a 1/3 mile, 500-foot final kicker to get up to the actual summit this ain’t no easy hike! All of that for a 2 point summit? That I think is why it’s not so popular in the SOTA community.
But that’s not how I did it. I ain’t no dummy! I rode my mountain bike along with a new buddy, N6MTB, aka Mountain Bike Bill who also recently got into the SOTA via MTB hobby. Bill is no stranger to the San Juan trail – or well any trail for that matter. He’s well known (some would say famous) for his trail guides.
Now just because we rode mountain bikes and started from the top down, don’t think this was easy! We were each carrying at least 20 pounds of gear riding 30 pound bikes! That trail is moderately difficult even with half the weight we were carrying. So of course, we had to walk up some stuff. That took time – considerable time in some sections! That burned calves. And that last kicker to the peak – woah – that’s steep! We didn’t have those fancy walking sticks like the hikers had. We didn’t even have proper hiking shoes!
After we stashed our bikes in the bushes and prayed that nobody would take them, we bush whacked our way up to the peak in shorts grinding through the sharp brush for about a half hour all the while hoping it would be worth it. And it was!
I setup my Yaesu FT-70DR, a 13 foot collapsible fiberglass pole and a my N9TAX roll-up dual band j-pole for 2 meter contacts. Bill packed his ICOM-705, a 30 foot pole and an end fed half wave for 10-40 meters.
There was spotty cell phone coverage up there so I couldn’t spot myself. But our local SOTA chasers were more than happy to do that for both of us. While Bill worked the 20 meter band, I picked up stations all over Southern California on 2 meters including a couple summit-to-summit contacts. We switched off and I got a couple more on 20 meters: one into Texas and another to Wyoming.
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1300||146.52||FM||N6WOR||RICHARD - BUENA PARK|
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1301||146.535||FM||N6WOR||C4FM - RICHARD - BUENA PARK|
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1302||146.52||FM||N1CLC||CHRISTIAN - IN CUYAMACA|
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1303||146.52||FM||KK6RLT||PATRICK - BUENA PARK|
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1304||146.52||FM||KI6SLA||MICHAEL - CERRITOS|
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1307||146.52||FM||KN6NJP||THOMAS - GARDEN GROVE|
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1308||146.52||FM||WE4BY||GREG - SAN CLEMENTE|
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1310||146.52||FM||KN6FNY||KEVIN - ALISO VIEJO|
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1315||14.295||SSB||WE4BY||GREG - SAN CLEMENTE|
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1317||14.295||SSB||N5LOT||LEO - BURKBURNETTE, TX|
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1319||14.295||SSB||N7MZW||CHARLES - CHEYENNE, WY|
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1321||146.52||FM||KN6GPF||JOSEPH - MOBILE - CYPRESS|
|W6/SC-405||20230218||1325||146.52||FM||KN6UKW||JAMES - MOBILE - LONG BEACH|
After spending about an hour up there, it was time for the most fun of the day: the final ride down. No mountain bike ride is worth the time without the payoff. In our case, the payoff was a physically and mentally stimulating, 30-minute roller coaster ride down one of the best trails in Southern California: the San Juan Trail.