Wichita Mountains activation

I traveled to the Wichita Mountains in southwest Oklahoma this week on a summit activation trip.  As with most of my trips, my execution didn't live up to my planning. I had hoped to activate 4 summits in two days, but wound up activating two and wisely calling it quits.  I have to remember my legs are 65 years old take it easy on them.

As for the activations, the first on Wednesday was up Elk Mountain. It's a pretty 1.1 mile trail that's took me about an hour to climb. The only problem was the weather. I'd studied weather reports and Wednesday was supposed to be sunny and in the 50s -- perfect hiking weather.  When woke in Lawton, OK Wednesday morning there was very thick fog.  My plan was to do Elk Mountain in the morning and Mount Scott in the afternoon, then pick up a couple of nearby summits on Thursday and head home.

So I stuck to plan and was at base of Elk Mountain at 9 a.m. and in the fog.  I kept telling myself it would burn off by the time I got to the top.   It didn't. In fact on top I was in the cloud with mist and very heavy fog. I know the views from the top of Elk Mountain are supposed to be great, but all I saw was fog.
Fog on way up.
I set up my station and made 21 contacts -- a nice activation.  I was still planning on a second summit so I tore my antenna down and headed down the mountain.  The only problem is I was in heavy fog, I had no idea of which way was North and had a hard time finding the trail down. I actually started down the wrong trail, but quickly realized my error and got back to the top.  Then I pulled out my phone with the Backcountry Navigator Pro App on it and was able to see my location and the trail and find my way down.
Fog on way down.

When I got to the bottom of the trail it was noon.  My plan was to drive to Mount Scott -- about 20 minutes away and hike up it which would take about an hour and a half.  That would get me to the top at 2, give me an hour to operate and an hour to get back down by 4, with an hour extra thrown in for good measure.

I drove to Mount Scott and the weather was still heavy fog with no sign of letting up.  I couldn't see hiking three miles to another fogged in summit, so it was time for Plan B.   I went into Lawton, had and nice lunch and found a cigar shop with a lounge and sat in there reading the paper for an hour or two. About 4 p.m. the sun broke through the fog and it was suddenly sunny and in the 50s.  Thursday would be better.

I woke Thursday morning and headed for Mount Scott. It wasn't foggy and I could see the mountain, but I couldn't see the top.  It was in the clouds.  But there were signs the sun was starting to burn through the clouds so I decided to make the trip up.  I did linger at the bottom and driving around the wildlife refuge for an hour to let the sun do its magic on the clouds.  By 9:30 the cloud cover was starting to break, so I started up.

Mount Scott with head in the clouds. 
By the time I was half way up, the sun broke through By the time I was nearing the top it was in the 50s -- it had been 38 degrees at the bottom when I started.  There is a paved highway to the top, but it is closed due to some structural damage so the only way up is on foot. The road circles the mountain a couple of times on the way up, so the view is always changing.  Doing it in foot let me take in the changing view and enjoy it. On the way up you pass through a boulder field. These boulders are all 10 to 20 feed in diameter.
Boulder field.

It took an hour and a half to hike up the 3 miles, I spent an hour on top operating with about 20 contacts and it took an hour to hike back down. That got me back to the car at a little after 1.  I knew I had probably pushed my legs as far as they wanted to go, so I hopped in the car and headed for home. I had activated two summits for a total of 18 points in two days and had two great hikes.  Not bad for a January outing. 
View from the top with blue skies. 


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