Friday, March 28, 2014

Grand Canyon Trip and a few SOTA Activations

Lynn, being a teacher, has Spring Break off and I was able to manage some vacation time and we decided a trip to the Grand Canyon was in order.


PART 1


We dropped our fur kids off with their babysitter and off we headed to the Grand Canyon. I figured we may want to get a few SOTA summits in and Lynn is getting close to 300 activator points so this would help out. Our first stop was Capulin Mountain in Capulin NM. The temp was in the low 20s and the road to the top was closed due to ice. The Park Ranger indicated that it may be open in an hour or so but at those temps I was not really wanting to go up there in the cold and the wind anyway. We headed out and got back on the Interstate and decided to stop an activate Wagon Mound, in the town of Wagon Mound, of course.

Fred KT5X did a great writeup on the SOTA site so we had no trouble finding the TH (hole in the fence) or the summit. It is a short but steep hike.


Lynn on her way up

Great views

Perfect Day

KX3, Goat Paddles standing by

Lynn heading down after a great activation
The temps were in the high 50s to low 60s. It was windy but we found a spot that did not have a lot of wind flowing by it. We were not really behind a very large rock so I cannot explain it but it worked.

K0JQZ Log:

12 Meters CW
VA2SG
N7UN
N4EX
K4PIC
NE4TN
KI8R
WI2W
K1CM
EA2LU
CT1BWW
AE4FZ
KG3W
N3GJ
K7NEW
AA4AI
W7TAO
WA7DHA
N4UOZ 

20 Meters CW
KB9FKD  Summit to Summit

KC0YQF Log:

20 Meters SSB
W0MNA
W0ERI
N1EU
WA7JTM Summit to Summit
N7AMA
NS7P
KB7HH
NA6MG
W0EA
N4EX
W5ODS
AE4FZ
KA5PVB
W7RV
AJ5C
K7JFD
KG3W
KH2TJ
AI0Q
K6TUY
KI8R
AE9F 

We headed out satisfied that we got an easy 9 points. 6 points for the summit and 3 bonus points. When I entered the information it only came up with 6 points and Fred informed me that the bonus points for this summit are summer bonus points, not winter. I could not find anything on the SOAT site that reflects this information, at least not that I could find. Regardless, Lynn and I had much more fun that we would have had freezing on Capulin. We are great full to Fred for the great writeup.


PART 2


Lynn and I camped this whole trip so we made our way in-between Santa Fe and ABQ so we could activate Sandia Crest the next day.

With the help of some maps and my GPS I was able to find the backway in order to drive up Sandia Crest. It is not a big mountain but it has great views and a well maintained road to the summit. We took a trail from the summit South and found a place out of the wind. It was in the 30s for this one and actually very nice. We had a great view as the DX rolled in.
Great views from our shack

Lynn loves living on the edge

This is just a cool place to explore!
K0JQZ in goofy hat running the pileup

Lynn staying warm and working the chasers
K0JQZ Log:

12 Meter CW
N1EU
W7TAO
EA2LU
K4PIC
OK1AU
KG3W
NE4TN
N9KW
WI2W
N4EX 
HB9MKV
N7UN
G4OBK
ON4FI
VA2SG
NS7P
DF5WA
K4VK
VA6FUN
K9ZMD 

I was real happy with the DX that was booming in.

KC0YQF Log:

20 Meter SSB
W7IMC Summit to Summit
K6TUY
NA6MG
K5WLT
W7CNL
W0ERI
W0MNA
WN6E 

We were able to get Scott's (W7IMC) freq as he was finishing up his activation (he also gave Lynn a Summit to Summit). I was unable to spot otherwise. I noticed that the SSB turn out was poor and would continue to be so for the rest of our vacation. Maybe it was because it was during the work week. I don't know. I know there was a net wanting to use the freq we were on because every member of that net asked if the freq was in use. I guess we should begreatful they asked if the freq was in use instead of demanding that we move because their net was starting. 


PART 3


After Sandia we got on I40 and headed to the Petrified Forest.





Lynn did not see any Dinosaurs but she looked for them.



I decided to get some kicks on route 66....




This is somewhat bitter sweet. I was suppose to see this area with my brother next month but he passed away from cancer last Oct. I thought about him often during this trip.


PART 4


The next day we checked out the Meteor Crater. 

This is cool stuff!



Add caption

The base of the crater.

Finally found my drivers license!!!

The Astronauts trained in this area, and many other areas as they had to become Rock Hounds while on the moon. Just picking up random rocks, like they did on the Apollo 11 mission, would not cut it as they needed to select them carefully.

What surprised me is they had a memorial wall dedicated to all the Astronauts and on this wall I found Lt Col Scobee's name. Most of you may remember that he was the commander of the ill fated Challenger mission and you would be correct. What I did not know until about a year ago is that Lt Col Scobee started out enlisted in the USAF. He went to night school and got a commission and often commented on how the two best jobs in the USAF were of the NCO and the Commander. I know he said this because his son, Brigadier General Scobee was my boss at one time and he mention that one day while we were chatting. Not to say that we chatted a lot but we had a meeting for another reason and that is how the conversation went. He was just curious about my background (for all he know I was just another bearded civilian). When he found out I was a retired USAF Senior NCO he told me about his Dad.

Lt Col Scobee, United States Air Force, was Commander of the Challenger Mission
After the Meteor Crater we headed to Flagstaff to setup camp at the base of Mount Elden (at a KOA) and headed into the Grand Canyon.

PART 5




KC0YQF

K0JQZ


Pictures do not do this place justice

Neat Rock Formations
It is truly GRAND
We were able to activate Grandview Benchmark while checking out the sights.

K0JQZ Log:

12 Meters CW
W9FHA
N4MJ
N1EU
N4EX
AE4FZ
K4PIC
AJ5C
NE4TN
N7UN 

KC0YQF Log:

20 Meter SSB
W0MNA
W0ERI
NS7P
AA5CK
WA6RIC
W4DOW 

I take a camera on activations and use a different one for sightseeing and this is when my activation camera started to fade. I had another battery for it but had forgot about it. I was not taking many more pictures anyway.


PART 6


After the Canyon we went to the camp ground and I found a TH that linked up with the trail from in back of the Ranger Station that goes up the East Side of Mount Elden. I really wanted to get up the East side which is more than a 2000 foot elevation gain. While researching the trails the wind started. I was awake early in the morning and started looking at other options since the weather was going to get bad. I decided to go up Woody Mountain, hit the Lowell Observatory then get up Mount Elden late in the day. I was not worried about a late summit but was more worried about the foul weather.

We, with some difficulty,  were able to find Woody Mountain and here are our logs.

K0JQZ Log:

12 Meters CW
NE4TN
K4PIC
W9FHA
OK1AU
AE4FZ
KI0G
DF5WA
N1EU 

30 Meter CW
W7TAO
N7CW
N9KW
W7RV
KB7HH
WA6RIC
NS7P
AA5CK
W7USA
K6EL
W7QQ
W7CNL
N7AMA
K9ZMD 

Lynn had a lot of trouble getting here required QSOs but eventually did.

KC0YQF Log:

20 Meter SSB
AA7DK
W0MNA
K7NEW
W7TAO 

I wasted a lot of time finding this one and had to adjust my activation alert time. I was able to spot Lynn so do not know if it was just bad propagation on 20 meters or what. We were pretty chilled and sick of this one by the time she finished.

PART 7

The highlight of the trip for me was the Lowell Observatory. I highly recommend it as it is geared to kids and adults. Or maybe just kids of all sizes. 

The original building


The big telescope was out for maintenace

Lowell

The different colors of light determine if an object is moving towards or away from us

Lowell's first telescope

The Pluto Telescope

How Pluto was named.
The Black Hole research they are doing is amazing.!

The Blackhole displays are interactive and really explain complex theories in a fun way. Lynn and I could not resist getting our Explorers Card and getting some time on the big telescopes to have pictures sent to our email.... Cool!!!!!

This was just a neat time. The tour guide was fantastic even though we were outside freezing most of the time. It did not help that Mount Elden was visible from Mars Hill most of the time so I kept starring at it looking for the trail to see if anyone was hiking up.


PART 8


After the observatory and some lunch we decided to go to Sunset Crater and tour it. It is a 10 point summit but there is no hiking (save the lava beds) to the summit. I asked a Ranger and he stated that they shut down hiking to the summit because it was causing too much damage. They had a very good film that we watched and called it good. Please do not attempt to hike this summit and respect the National Parks Service rules. It may open back up one day.

Once we returned from the campsite every tent camper had packed it all up. We were the last ones. It started to snow and the wind was still blowing so I sat int he car and thought for a moment. I really hated to give up on Mount Elden but decided we should hit the road since we were either going to have to sit in the tent or sit in the car so we left. I hated doing it but it was the wise choice. Mount Elden will be there for the next time and we will be going back. There is so much to see in this area. 


PART 9


We did hit Capulin Mountain on the way home. While the temps were pleasant the wind was not. Here is our results.

K0JQZ Log:

12 Meter CW
N7UN
DJ5AV
NE4TN
N4EX
KW3F
VA2SG
W6UB
NS7P
W4DOW
KG3W

KC0YQF Log:

20 Meter SSB
W0MNA
W0ERI
N6KZ
NS7P
WA6RIC
N6JZT 

The wind was very bad and I managed to break my fishing pole/antenna support. I was able to string it between two trees and it worked ok but it was really too low to the ground to be an effective radiator. The cheap fishing pole was just that, cheap.... 

It is always nice to be able to activate a few summits while on vacation. I had two batteries but only used one. It is the A123 battery from Buddipole (I think it is the 2.3 amp) it lasted between both Lynn and I for 5 activations (2 times 5 is 10 total activations on one charge). Of course the KX3 is the most power efficient radio in its class.

Of note is that Lynn and I camped every night save one night when we stayed in a cabin. It got down into the 30s often but having the right gear is the real difference. I used the military 3 bag system and was actually too warm most of the time so I never had it zipped at all. Lynn used one of my zero degree bags and did great.

I think next time we will have to link up with some locals for some joint activations. Besides my navigation skills are not the best.

Thanks Chasers!!!!!

72
Frank and Lynn
K0JQZ and KC0YQF


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