Posts Tagged ‘Backpacking’
Philmont rates their treks by the magnitude of difficulty from Challenging, Rugged, Strenuous and Super Strenuous. The trek I was on was in the Super Strenuous category, for those familiar with the system, our Trek was # 31. I have been training for this trek for over a year and would need all that accumulated fitness to make the trip. We had a crew of eight, two adults and six teenage boys. What you learn, or maybe remember, is that youth covers lots of physical ills, in other words, they recover quickly.
|Baldy Mountain getting closer|
|Operating from Baldy Mountain|
AD5A In The Middle and AB5EB On The Right
|Baldy Mountain From Scheaffers Peak|
Yes, We Hiked That Distance
After the activation of Scheaffer's Peak, we had to put our packs back on and finish the last nine miles of the trek. Another long day, but at the end, what a sense of accomplishment. Hiking 84 miles in rugged back country and activating two new SOTA summits.
There is a company called AMP-3 that has developed a very nice pack/bag to efficiently transport the FT-817, power supply, cables, connectors, log, etc.. I used this bag in a recent activation in New Mexico and was impressed with it's practicality. I have no financial interest in AMP-3, other than I've sent them a lot of money for their products.
Below is a link to a video of how the pack works.
Also he web site address is:
Day 1 Peak 8409 W5N/PW-027 (8 pts)
We are still setting up house in Santa Fe and so on this Friday morning there were deliveries scheduled for 9:30. So I needed a quick hit summit that I could get on and off of quickly and get back home. Peak 8409 fit the bill. The summit is 11 miles from my house and isn't a particularly difficult summit as you can drive to within a few hundred feet of the summit. So I left the house early and found a pull-out on the road to the summit and scrambled up ~200 feet to my eventual operating position. Quickly the antenna was in place and I was calling CQ within 5 minutes. A chaser pile quickly ensued and in 25 or so minutes of operation I made 23 QSO's. After a few unanswered CQ's, I quickly tore down the station was back home in time to meet the delivery man. Cool, 8 activator points and back home in time to get something done.
Day 2 Atalaya Mountain W5N/PW-023 (8 pts)
Atalaya is not in the easy ascent category. The hike isn't too long, ~5.6 miles round trip depending on where you start (we took Trail #170), but it is relatively steep. I wouldn't call it a hard hike, so moderate is probably the best description. My son Jake, KB5SKN, who flew in the day before, would join me on this one. Jake isn't that active as a ham but when asked if he wanted to operate from the summit, he said he would rather operate than just watch me. So, in addition to my ATS-4, cw only rig, I made Jake carry the FT-817 so he could operate SSB. This is a nice hike and the views of Santa Fe are outstanding. It took us 90 minutes to get to the summit, with Jake having to adjust a little to the altitude, but we make relatively decent time.
Jake was new to mountain portable operation and he was surprised how quickly we were on the air. We set up the EFHW, stringing it in the trees to my carbon fiber collapsible pole. We received good reports, I made 21 QSO's on CW and Jake made 12 on SSB. He was surprised at how effective this antenna was. It was a nice walk down and a good day for father and son.
|KB5SKN Logging His First Activation|
|AD5A on Summit of Atalaya :Mountain|
Sandia Crest is the big mountain that dominates the Albuquerque landscape. I decided to take a chance on a Sunday afternoon activation. Thunderstorms are always an issue in this part of the world, but there is a tram that takes you up the mountain, so I decided to risk it.
Sure enough when we arrived at the tram there was a light rain on the summit. Actually I thought the tram landing was within the activation zone. When we arrived, in the rain, I realized we need to ascend another 200 feet before I was high enough on the summit. A favorite activation location on this mountain is Kiwanis Cabin; it was a short 1.5 miles away. So my XYL and I set off in the light rain for the cabin. While the rain was light, thunder was echoing through the valley as there were widespread thunderstorms. Upon reaching the cabin, the rain had stopped, so I set up my station. On crowded summits I use the Alexloop antenna. It has a small footprint and actually works pretty well. After tuning it and calling CQ, I didn't get any immediate responses. Little did I know there had been a CME just a few hours before and conditions were not good. Over about a 15 minute time span I made 8 QSO's. Then the wind came up and the thunder got louder, so I shut down. We hiked back to the tram to find a 90 minute wait to go down. This was a holiday weekend after all. So rain, a CME and tram delay turned this into a little more adventurous and time consuming outing than planned, but I made the QSO's to qualify the activation and enjoyed some magnificent views.
|AD5A on Sandia Peak|
|View from Sandia Peak|
Day 4 Santa Fe Baldy W5N/PW-006 (10 pts)
John, K1JD, sent me an email asking if during my stay in Santa Fe I would be interested in doing Santa Fe Baldy, the tallest mountain in the Santa Fe area at 12,622 ft. It is a 10 point summit and I had already done a fourteener this year, (Sherman 14,036), so I knew I could handle the altitude. “Of course” was my response. The kicker on this hike is that it is a 15 mile round-trip. The hike is not 7.5 miles up and then 7.5 miles down, it is a rolling hike for several miles until you get to the trail up to the saddle that leads to the summit. We both knew there were easier 10 pointers around, but activating Santa Fe Baldy is a badge of honor; it looks good on the resume. So as you talk among other activators, you can always ask what their longest hike was and odds are, at 15 miles, not many can best that. So some bragging rights are at risk here and that’s important. We appropriately planned the hike for Labor Day.
The weather forecast wasn’t favorable for a Labor Day activation, 50% chance of rain, which translated during monsoon season in the New Mexico mountains, it’s gonna rain. We toyed with idea of doing it on the Sunday before Labor Day, but my son was in town and I couldn’t get away. So we took our chances on Monday.
|AD5A Operating from Santa Fe Baldy|
|K1JD on Santa Fe Baldy|
Glorieta Mesa W5N/PW-032 August 16, 2013
This was my first solo summit. I've done summits with other activators and my wife often does the hike with me, however this time I was on my own. Glorieta Mesa is an 8 point summit whose elevation is just over 8,000 ft. Finding the route required a little research but the SOTA website is very valuable in finding routes if previous activators have uploaded their activation notes. Such was the case here and I was able to get two sets of coordinates, the first directed me where to park and the second pinpointed the previous operating location of another activator. Given those two points the hike was fairly straight forward. Only about 300 feet elevation gain over 1.5 mile climb isn't too bad.
I used my GPS unit with it's TOPO map to navigate to the activation zone. There is no trail per se on this climb. I would classify it as a minor bushwhack. While there are no trails the forest is very walk-able with a few brushy areas that you have to walk through, but not bad.
|On The Way Up|
Once on the top I used my ATS-4 and my modified Buddi-Stick vertical. Conditions were decent and after couple of CQ's I had a nice SOTA Chaser pile-up. I managed to work 18 stations in a 20 minute span working stations Coast to Coast.
A Chaser pile-up is the ultimate QRP thrill in my opinion. You are operating a station that you carried up the hill on your back, using a portable antenna and other stations are actually chasing you. The signals were loud and I was getting some 569 and 579 reports.
As with any activity the more experience you get, the more refined your approach becomes and so it has been with me. My first activation was last March. I took my KX3 with an FT-817 as backup, an Alexloop, a Buddistick, several coax jumpers (BNC - PL-259, BNC - BNC and other combinations just in case), a pound of trail mix and several bottles of water. All this for a 3.5 mile round trip. I didn't even want to weigh it.
For those not familiar with the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program there are bonus points added for activating a summit either during the winter in cold climates or during the summer in hot climates. West Texas is definitely a hot climate. Emory Peak is a 10 point summit (maximum), but activating in the summer months is worth 3 extra bonus points. On the drive from Mt. Locke to the Big Bend area temperatures hovered between 99 F to 101 F. The temperatures would moderate a little at the Chisos basin where we were staying, although not a lot. The Chisos Mountain Lodge is around 5500 feet in elevation, but the high temperatures during this time of year are in the low 90's.
The Chisos Mountain range within Big Bend National Park is a beautiful place. Emory peak may be the only peak that is climbable, but even then, you must climb the last 35 feet using some, not so easy, rock climbing techniques. I would not recommend it if you aren't experienced.
The trail to the summit of Emory Peak is a very nice trail. It is well marked and maintained. The only issue is that the round trip is 9.4 miles and there is 2,500 feet of elevation gain. Given that distance the elevation gain is not particularly difficult, if you are accustomed to mountain hikes, but it is a long way.
|Cris, my XYL, just below the summit|
|AD5A just below the Summit|
VHF Antenna above are on the Summit
|Emory Peak Shack|
You can see the Buddi-stick if you look closely
I found, through KT5X, a supplier of Japanese made carbon fiber, telescoping fishing poles. It telescopes to 21 feet, weighs 7 oz. and collapses down to 25 inches. Brilliant. Now, these are a little pricey, from $75 -$120, but if you are carrying it for a few miles, the price amortizes nicely:-).