Monday, September 2, 2013

Black Mountain, W7A/MN-057

  It's been awhile since I composed a post on this blog. So a little update is in order first before the report.
  Been over a year and things have changed since then.  I hadn't been active with SOTA for sometime.  I hadn't even done all that much hiking in general. Last fall my wife Donna aka XYL KB0JOK went into the hospital for back surgery.  Long story-short, after being in the hospital for 3 months, she passed away.  I visited the various hospitals and care facilities at least once a day.  With a full time job, it didn't leave much time to do much.  In March/April I joined back with a hiking club I belong too and got active again.  Then it turned hot.  After watching my weight go back up, it was time to get active again.
  The Arizona association (W7A) of SOTA changed since my last post.  Instead of 119 summits and a couple of activators, it is now close to 2500 summits and many active activators and chasers.  SOTA has really taken off in AZ! 

    On Sunday September 1, 2013 I drove to Cave Creek, AZ to activate Black Mountain.  This is a 3397 foot mountain with a trail head elevation of 2195 feet.  Point value is 4pts.  At the summit on this day were hundreds if not thousands of gnats.  Luckily they were only at the summit.  I dropped back down 20 ft or so and they never bothered me there.  So I setup after letting know the local chasers that I had arrived and was setting up. 

  From the summit, one had 360 degree views of the Valley of the Sun.

  Looking East/NNE.  In the lower left corner you can see my Black Widow pole.

  To top off the summit activation was a S2S (Summit to Summit) with WA7JTM on 40M.

  With enough contacts in the log, back down the hill I went.

Thanks for the contacts!

more pictures here

until another summit...73 de Jon N7AZ







40M S2S

73 Jon N7AZ

Sunday, March 11, 2012

North Mountain, W7/AW-060

  After recently activating Mount Bigelow for SOTA, it was time to activate another SOTA mountain.  I drove to the Phoenix Preserves and found my way to the lower TH for North Mountain.  The lower trailhead has .13-.14 mile of 24% grade before it hits a blacktop road to the summit.

  At the top was a gated entrance to all the radio/satellite equipment.  Off to the side was a trail that takes you to the summit.  In a manner of a minute or two, I was at the summit and setting up on 17M with the AZ stick.

  I called CQ for a long time with no answers. Finally, I seen the problem; the IF Shift was completely clock wise.  Who knows how many stations had answered and then gave up on me.  Sorry about that.  Goes to show even veteran operators goof up.

Finally got my 4 Q's and back down the hill I went.

Thanks for the contacts!


more pictures here

until another summit...73 de Jon N7AZ

73 Jon N7AZ

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bigelow Mount, W7/AW-003

  On February 26, 2012 I & my cousin Jesse drove to Tucson.  Fueled up on pancakes, grits, & coffee at the Cracker Barrel, we then drove through the endless stop lights and stop signs to get to the other side of Tucson.  Once on the east side the fun begins by traveling up the Catalina Scenic Highway.  It has the word scenic in its name for a reason!  There were several Lance wannabees riding their bike up the mountain.  What a great ride that must be, seeing all the scenery at a slower pace than a motorized vehicle.  We stopped and payed the $5 that allowed us to use the facilities and park for the day.  In no time we were at the Bigelow TH.  After getting out of the car, we evaluated how many clothing layers we would need, we made sure we had all the essentials to do a SOTA activation.  It was then time to turn on my new toy.  A Yaesu VX-8G.  How much fun.

  I made the VX send out a burst, making sure it was heard and we had a time stamp of when we left.  We headed up the trail and I was quickly reminded that I hadn't hiked in a while.  I was packing 14lbs+, but my hiking partner practically nothing, 30 years younger and barely removed from cross-country track, I had a workout in front of me keeping up with him.  There were many cairns showing the way, but really, there was no need, as the trail is worn enough to follow.  Close to the top, the VX made some noises and a white LED was flashing.  Hmm, I think I remember seeing in the manual that a white LED means you have a message.  Sure enough, I had a message from my buddy Steve-wG0AT.  Seems Rooster told Steve we were nearing the top.  Apparently Steve and others were watching us go up the mountain on APRS.  I'm loving this little APRS HT.  Jesse, a non-ham couldn't believe I was able to receive messages on a radio.  Pretty cool!

  We finally topped out and we walked around looking for the summit medallion.  It wasn't until later that Jesse found it.  It was where we had been told, "east of the fire tower” Except it was in a rock, not in cement.

  Jesse also found some kitty kat paw prints!  Here kitty, kitty.

We setup on the east side of the summit right along the road.  It had a nice drop off at the edge of the road.  I turned on the radio and thought it was broke.  The squelch was such that it wasn't letting any signals in....there was absolutely no noise.  I could hear the bottom of the band on 20M.  Interesting that months earlier on Mt Lemmon there was several S units of noise, just a few miles away.

Once I figured out that the radio wasn't broke, I called CQ and instantly had a pileup.  wG0AT was the loudest and was 1st in the log.  3 more were in the log quickly.  Later on back at home Jesse told my wife (Donna-KB0JOK) that we talked to 4 people in 2 minutes.  Ended up with 21 Q's, the most so far on a summit.  I think my AZ stick is working.

We sat in the sun the whole time and were more than warm.  I actually got sunburn from it.  We packed up and headed down the mountain.  It was cool/cold gong back down.  We weren't creating heat going down, but in short order we were back to the TH.  After making sure we got our $5 worth we headed down the highway.  At one point I looked in the rear view mirror and a Lance wannabee was gaining on us.  He went around us and we followed him going 45-50 mph around curves.  We were having fun watching this guy!

We stopped at a local restaurant to fuel up and looked at an email from Steve.  He had screen shots of our APRS beacons on the mountain and as a bonus, he included audio of a Summit to Summit I had with Scott, W7IMC.  Thanks Steve, R&P!   Its people like Steve that make the hobby so much fun!

Thanks for the contacts!

Until another summit...73 de Jon N7AZ

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tumamoc Hill, W7/AW-057

  On November 18, 2011, I drove to Tucson to activate Tumamoc Hill.  Tumamoc Hill is a 1 point summit for SOTA "Summits on the Air".  I got to the trailhead (if you can call it that) later than I wanted, but no problem with a parking spot.  Parking is on only one side of a somewhat busy street.  Across the street is a hospital.  Route finding for this summit was very easy as its a paved road all the way to the top.  Several radio towers are at the summit and the whole complex is a 340 acre preserve owned by the University of Arizona.

University of Arizona Science sign with Tumamoc Hill in the background

  Once at the top, I setup on the east side of the summit with an EFHW antenna.
20M EFHW antenna (looking east towards Tucson)

 After calling CQ many many times, I bagged the required 4 contacts for an official activation.  This had to be the noisiest summits I have been on.  I could hear traffic, trains, police sirens from there.
one of many buildings on site
More pictures here:

Many thanks for the contacts!


73 Jon N7AZ

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mt. Lemmon, W7 / AW-001

    With a big time lapse since my last activation it was time to play some radio.  So we loaded up the car and headed for Tucson, AZ.  In a couple hours of driving we were through Tucson and was heading up the Catalina mountains toward the summit of Mt. Lemmon. My cousin Jesse was in charge of taking pictures as we made our  way up the Sky Island Scenic Byway.

 I didn't know there could be such scenery.  Driving from Tucson to the top of Mt. Lemmon takes one through 7 different climate zones, the equivalent of driving from Mexico to Canada.  Close to the top we pulled over at a picnic area and had sandwiches, etc that my wife Donna-KB0JOK had made for us.  

Since I had put out a SOTA alert before we left, we hurriedly finished up, as I/we were way behind time.  Once at the parking lot, Jesse and I packed the radio station & accessories and hiked along the fence of the Steward Observatory.

  To get to the summit which is to the north of the observatory property, so we had to hike up and down some steep hills with virtually no trail.  The only trail was stepped down grass made from others.  In short order we made it to the summit.  Once at the summit we had nice views to the north and a nice take off angle for radio signals.  We setup the vertical with elevated radials and attached it to a pole in the ground.  Another pole close by had electrical outlets, but unknown if it had power.

   After calling CQ SOTA for sometime on 20M SSB, NS7P-Phil answered.  NS7P always seems to be there.  Next contact was AD7FC on Timberwolf Mountain, my first Summit to Summit!  After making several more contacts, I switched to CW and worked Fred-KT5X in New Mexico.  At this point my hands were freezing and we broke down the station and headed back for the car and a nice drive back down the mountain.  As I was making contacts, Jesse walked around taking pictures.  One could see the famous Biosphere from where we were.

Many thanks for the contacts!


73 Jon N7AZ

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Woody Mountain, W7 / AE-037

  As Mark-K5LXP and I made it back to the Ft. Tuthill campgrounds, Fred-KT5X & Steve-wG0AT were leaving for another summit.  I knew they were talking about activating another summit, but I didn't know it was going to be the same day.  I dropped off Mark at his campsite and I followed Steve & Fred on our way to Woody Mountain, SOTA mountain designator AE-037.  We turned down one road that to us did not look like a fire service road.  Steve and Fred would continue down that road while I kept going down the main road.  I went down the road a ways when Fred made contact on 2m to hold up, the road they were on was definitely not a forest road.  I drove a little farther until I could get a data signal and looked up Woody Mountain on my phone.  By the time I had read about Woody Mountain, Steve and Fred had made their way back to me.  We could see a road ½ mile down the road that may be what we were looking for. We knew were close as Fred had spotted the fire tower.  Sure enough it was the right road and it was a really nice road to drive on.  We were gaining elevation fast as we zig-zagged up the mountain, but we came to a fast stop as there it was a gate that was blocking the road that I had read about and it was padlocked.  

L-R, Fred-KT5X, Peanut, Steve-wG0AT

So Steve unloaded the goats and I took off my hiking boots and put on my tennis shoes.   It was a nice hike up the rest of the mountain.  On the way up there was an opening to the NE allowing us to see the summit we had activated just hours earlier.  We were at the summit in no time!

Elden Mountain to the NE from Woody Mountain.
  The summit had a nice fire tower and we were the only ones there.  Fred climbed up a couple of levels of the fire tower and set up his 2lb 20M CW station.  I called CQ on 2M and made my 4 contacts on 2M simplex with guys at the Ft. Tuthill campground.

Fred-KT5X on the 2nd level all set-up, Rooster looking on.

Woody Mtn. Look Out sign
  Steve climbed up to Fred and they took turns at the key making contacts across the U.S. and one into Mexico City on 20M CW.  The 2lb station was getting out!  Steve had climbed up to the top of the tower and took several pictures from a higher point.  He could see a storm coming from the south and since we all had more than enough contacts we thought it best to get back to our vehicles.  Fred’s station was dissembled in no time and down the mountain we went.  On the way down Fred & I talked about mountain top antennas and hiking in general, many tips were picked up.  Another SOTA summit bagged!

L-R, Fred-KT5X, Steve-wG0AT

L-R, Fred-KT5X, Steve-wG0AT

Woody Mountain W7/AE-037, 8045ft, July 29th, 2011, 8 points

Woody Mountain Lookout plaque

Woody Mountain U.S.G.S Bench Mark

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73 de Jon N7AZ

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Elden Mountain, SOTA W7 / AE-017

Elden Mountain Trailhead
I exchanged emails with Steve-wG0AT about hiking with him & Fred-KT5X and Steve's famous goats Rooster & Peanut.  We planned on activating Elden Mountain for SOTA on Friday just before the Cactus Con gathering in Flagstaff, AZ.  We ended up picking up another ham to go with us on Friday morning, Mark-K5LXP.  Steve & Fred followed us to the trailhead.  Steve got the goats out of his truck and the fun began.

Fred-KT5X was anxious to get going.  Fred starts doing a running in place and Mark and I look at each other and Mark remarks "he's going to run up it" and sure enough, Fred made it up the mountain in 55 minutes!  It took Mark & I right at 2 hours to summit.  Steve and the goats were way ahead of Mark & I by a considerable amount.  We had kept in contact on 2m simplex.

Mini-break, L-R, Mark-K5LXP, Steve-wG0AT, Rooster, Peanut, Awed hikers.

Until half way up the mountain we were given several mini-breaks from all the people coming down that wanted to pet & talk about the goats.  I swear every girl we met, no matter the age commented on how cute the goats were.  Steve carried peanuts that he would hand out so hikers could hand feed the goats.  Many videos of the goats are available here  wG0AT

At the top Fred-KT5X already had 20M setup (his whole station, radio & antenna weighs in just a smidge over 2lbs), Fred & Steve operated on the north side of the mountain on HF, while Mark & I went just below the fire lookout tower on the south side.  We had a direct line of sight to all the Cactus Con  hams that were camping at Ft Tuthill.  Mark & I easily made out 4 contacts on 2M simplex.

Fred & Steve/R&P headed back down after making many HF Q's.  Mark & I weren't half way down when they let us know they were at the TH, goats packed up and was headed back to the campground.  Say what!!  Fred and Steve are retirement age, those two guys are in great shape!

I can't wait until I hike with these guys again, little did I know it would be real soon.

73 de Jon N7AZ