Ham Radio

Be Careful

Are you thinking of visiting a hilltop?

Hilltopping is dangerous. Here's my advice, some of which I learned the hard way.

  1. You are responsible for your own safety.
    1. Don't go beyond your own skills or your vehicle's capability.
    2. If you see something you feel is not safe, don't attempt it. It's not safe.
    3. If you see things that don't match your maps, you are probably lost. Turn around. If you go forward then you'll only get more lost.
  2. GPS devices suck:
    1. Don't rely on GPS navigation in forests, it can and will mislead you onto dangerous tracks.
    2. Most consumer GPS devices have maps of forest roads, but they don't distinguish between well-maintained gravel roads and overgrown goat tracks.
    3. Entering lat/long into a GPS device may choose an undesired road nearby.
    4. Gates and closures are NOT shown by mapping programs or GPS devices.
    5. I've included some sites that were once open and later gated off. Read descriptions carefully.
    6. Google Maps route is shown for context. Google Maps is probably not the same route as the driving directions listed here. And both of them may be wrong.
    7. Always bring your paper maps as backup. Sometimes your GPS will say "Location not found".
  3. Things change:
    1. Road and weather conditions change, even the day after someone else visited an operating location.
    2. Some of this information is very out of date.
    3. New roads may appear. Intersections may be redesigned.
    4. Housing developments may spring up.
    5. Old roads might be closed. Gates may be added.
    6. "No Tresspassing" signs may have appeared.
    7. Many logging roads have been closed or gated off during the last several years.
  4. Respect the land:
    1. Respect all land ownership signs.
    2. The more remote you are, the more likely that people carry weapons.
    3. Don't go past "no trespassing" signs or onto company-owned land.
    4. If you see anyone near where you want to park, always talk to them and tell them what you're doing.
    5. Bring garbage sacks and clean up the area before you operate.
    6. You will gain much credibility by having a visible trash bag. Make it a habit.
  5. Be prepared:
    1. Always check all the resources you can find before visiting a location.
    2. The best information generally comes from locals.
    3. Call ahead to ranger stations.
    4. Get on local repeaters and ask about routes and conditions.
    5. Shoulders may be soft and may pitch you over a drop-off of hundreds of feet.
    6. Bring jumper cables (operating your radio can drain your battery).
  6. Check the facts:
    1. I might have listed the wrong county, coordinates, routes or grid square.
    2. You are responsible for getting this right.
    3. I've provided as many links to Internet resources as possible to help, but you have to check for accuracy before you go.

You are responsible for your own success and safety.

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