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!
Until another summit...73 de Jon N7AZ