SOTA on Hibriten Mountain: Testing my new backpack and working a little QRP DX!

On Friday, April 28, 2023, the clouds lifted and I was eager to fit in a brisk hike.

We’d had a few days of wet weather and, in fact, the previous day I performed a POTA activation with my entire station and antenna under the roof of a picnic shelter.

I was visiting my parents and didn’t want to venture too far afield, but still wanted to fit in a good summit activation. The goal was to stretch my legs and to test my Mystery Ranch Scree 32 backpack. Before taking this pack on a difficult summit hike, I thought it might make sense to check the pack’s suspension and fit with it loaded down a bit heavier than I normally would.

This would actually be my second SOTA activation with the Scree 32 pack (here’s the first) but on that first hike, the pack was so light, I barely noticed it was on my back.

Hibriten Mountain (W4C/EM-093)

Hibriten was an easy choice for the day. It’s only a 25 minute drive from my parents’ home and the trail has modest elevation change over the 5.6 mile round trip hike.

The trail is basically a wide, gravel access road for the crews who maintain the communication towers on Hibriten’s summit.

I remembered from my previous activation of Hibriten that the hike was very pleasant.

It certainly was that Friday!

It wasn’t a terribly hot day, but it was very humid as the sun burned off all of the rain we’d received over previous days.

I hiked at a brisk clip to make the most of my workout and, if I’m being honest, I was pretty darn happy to see the summit.

Funny: I passed another hiker–a fellow named Bill–near the trailhead. When I reached the summit, Bill was only a minute or so behind me. As we looked at the view from the summit he said, “I’m beat. I was trying to pace myself off of you and you were really legging it!

I mentioned that, of all the days he could have picked to pace off of me, I was intentionally hiking much faster than I normally do and, frankly, it kicked my butt! I’m not exactly a super athletic guy (understatement alert) but I did want to get the most I could out of this particular SOTA hike and test my new pack’s suspension.

Goal achieved! The Scree 32 is a very comfortable pack and I did configure it properly for my torso length.

Setting up

Set-up was super easy because I packed my Chelegance MC-750 and the Elecraft KX2. I simply deployed the MC-750 (while talking with Bill) and made it resonant for 20 meters.

I then sat on the concrete base of the Hibriten Mountain light grid and used my Tufteln/N0RNM knee board to support the KX2 and my log book.

By the way: the view from the summit is quite a reward!


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On The Air

I started calling CQ SOTA on the 20 meter band and within a mere two minutes had already logged the four stations necessary to validate the activation (note that POTA requires a minimum of ten contacts, but SOTA only requires four).

I continued working stations for an additional thirteen minutes, for a total of 13 stations on 20 meters.

I then QSY’d to the 17 meter band and started calling CQ.

I worked three more stations including my buddy Vince (VE6LK) in Alberta; I would be speaking with him later that evening via Skype during a Ham Radio Workbench episode recording (in fact, I spoke about this activation in the “what’s on your workbench” portion of the show–click here to check out that episode).

This was an incredibly fun SOTA activation–I’m always amazed what one can do with 5 watts and a vertical!


Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map.

Activation Video

Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation.  As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.

Note that Patreon supporters can watch and even download this video 100% ad-free through Vimeo on my Patreon page:

Click here to view on YouTube.

The Scree 32 is a winner

I feel comfortable enough with this pack that I’m ready to take it on more challenging hikes. I absolutely love my Spec-Ops Brand THE Pack EDC, and will still use it of course–indeed, most of the time–but the Scree 32 will be my choice for those longer hikes when proper pack suspension is key.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this SOTA activation!

I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.

As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.

Thanks for spending part of your Memorial Day with me and here’s wishing you an amazing week ahead.

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

5 thoughts on “SOTA on Hibriten Mountain: Testing my new backpack and working a little QRP DX!”

  1. Really enjoyable to read and feel like I was there.
    I wonder if you built a power cable to KX2 from the TalentCell?
    Are both male ends the same size? I could not see how the included cable could be used.

    What is the gray platform folding box? The KX2 is sitting on?

    Thanks and look forward to next time
    73 KT3P

    1. Hi, Tom,

      Thank you! The grey kneeboard I used is one from Tufteln:
      (I should have had that in my gear list, so just added it.)
      It’s brilliant. Looks like it’s sold out at the moment, but Joshua can probably make you one if you cantact him.

      The barrel connectors on the provided Talentcell battery are the same size as the ones on a KX2 or KX3. That cord isn’t fused, but it works. I have built other power cords for the KX2.


  2. Thomas — I’m curious about the “lap desk” you’re using to support the KX2. I have an old pilot’s lap desk that works quite well with my KX2, but it is aluminum and yours looks to me to be lighter and more compact.

  3. Great to see an MR bag getting some radio love! You mentioned your previous load out was lighter, curious about what your bag weight was this time out?

    1. I didn’t have a means of weighing it when I took it to the field that day, but I did intentionally make it heavier than normal.

      If I can remember, next time I’ll weigh the full pack and post the weight!

      I’ve been very impressed with how the MR pack handles a load.


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