Soda Mountain


By: Maris Valkass



We met at the Ft. Irvin entrance gate, where we had to show our car ownership and insurance documents before the Army would let the cars enter. Then we had to drive few miles to the Goldstone/Echo entrance gate where the NASA people would sign us in. Along the way we saw Army armored personnel carriers tooling through the desert. Those would be ideal for us!

Our guide, Frank Sullens, met us at the main building where he gave us a brief overview of the Deep space Network of which Goldstone is a part of. He showed us a video, which had been showed on TV recently. Afterwards he asked If there were any questions, not anticipating any, however Farkas started to ask a bunch of semi technical questions, and that opened him up. He was one of the most informative and professional tour guides that I have ever experienced. His actual job is Supervisor of the Communications Group, and he has worked at all the several Deep Space Stations all over the world.

The first antenna we saw was at the Echo (original "balloon" satellite) station. It was huge, 34 meters diameter. Then we went to see the Big antenna, at the Mars Station, 70 meters In diameter. It was overwhelming, particularly when it switched from tracking one satellite to another. We also saw the control consoles, and "black" boxes, etc. It was a lot of fun and informative, and another attraction in our desert.

Saturday night we camped at Afton Canyon, not at the BLM campsite, because they wanted us to pay $3 per car.

Sunday morning six of us, Anna, Jim Farkas, David Wellbourn, Christine Mitchell, Ron Bartell, and I went to climb Soda Mt. (high point, 3663'). You take the Rasor Road off-ramp, and cross the highway to the north side. Then take the first dirt road (few yards away) east for 2.7 mi., at which point there is a trace of a road going in a northerly direction leading into a canyon. Drive as far as you can, then follow the canyon to appoint where you are opposite the high point and hike to the summit. The gain is under 2000', the climb is not memorable, but the view is very good of the surrounding area. If you should go there, please bring me back the two pairs of boots that Anna may have left at the roadhead.

Other participants were, Marti Washbourne with her Mom and Dad, Henry Heusinkveld, Eric Schumacher, Bill Konersman, Dennis Baker, Dianne Rosentreter.

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