Fourth Saturday Hunt

24 March 2001

Hider: KE6VCR, AF6O








1 Winner


















I have wanted to hide this place ever since Eric and I discovered it many years ago. At the time we were looking for a Pathfinder hiding spot but the road is unsuitable for that particular hunt. We hadn't actually explored the area, just taken a little peek inside but I always thought it ought to be possible to find a spot in there that was completely surrounded by hills so that there would be nowhere you could go and see the direct signal, just bounces all around. To make it even more difficult I plotted to lead the hunters away from the entrance to this area by strategically locating Ts on multiple frequencies so that when they finally heard this transmitter for the first time they would be in a place where the signal was very strong but no way to get there from here.

The plan was to hide a T on PV that would be a mega-sniff so as to buy time for the hiders to set things up. The PV T was only a couple of hundred yards from the start point but it was a good 50 minute trek, there and back, even when you knew where you were going. An added problem for the hunters would be to decide whether to walk down from the top of the hill or to drive down to the bottom and walk up. Walking down from the top was the correct decision but I believe all teams drove down to the bottom before deciding to come back up to the top. This T was hidden on Friday afternoon and programmed to turn on at 9:45 on Saturday morning.

The hiders arranged to meet at I15/Cajalco at 7:30, this would give us time to explore the area and set up T5 before going to the T2 site at about 9:45 to get the hunt started. A little way into the area it became apparent that the Bronco was not going to make it, the road was so narrow we were in danger of the wheels going over the edge. We had no choice but to turn back and go get Toms Explorer. There were a couple of nasty places even for the narrower Ford but the site turned out to be everything I had hoped for. The road went down and down into the end of a long box canyon which looked out to the South, the route was littered with rusty old vehicles that had gone over the edge and the hills were ablaze with California Poppies. After a little while we arrived at the bottom of the canyon, at this point we could go no further because the road became too narrow even for the Explorer. This part of the canyon was notable for its large crop of Sun flowers and was a perfect match with the plan for T5. The eleven element beam was erected, pointing down the canyon, the T was set up on 144.4MHz and ran 30W just to make sure that the hunters would have a "you are there" signal even though they really were not as close as they would think they were.

With 10 o'clock approaching we headed for the T2 site, this was on a dirt road that runs North along the base of Monument Peak, Eric and I had hidden there a little while ago and nobody could find it so it seemed worthy of another airing. An added feature was the beam eating tree which could not be passed without removing the antenna.

T3 was hidden a few miles further East on Cajalco, it was supposed to be further away than this but my radio picked this moment to start acting up which prevented me from communicating with Tom who remained at the T2 location to make sure that T3 could be heard from there. I decided to play safe and come back closer to T2 to ensure that T3 would be heard.

Next I remained at the T3 site to listen while Tom headed down to the Steele Valley/El Toro Road area to hide T4. This was the crucial Transmitter, the first three Ts were on 146.565MHz, the sign in sheet at T3 directed the hunters to continue hunting on the second coordinated T Hunt frequency of 145.725 (I haven't checked for a long time I wonder if we still have that). The purpose of T4 was to position the hunters right where we wanted them to be when they first heard T5, the sign in sheet at T4 directed them to listen on 144.4MHz.

An unintended consequence of the T4 frequency was that it is spaced about twice the IF frequency of a typical receiver away from the T3 frequency so T3 (146.565MHz) could be heard well on the image at T4s frequency (145.725MHz) which gave the appearance of an additional Transmitter (at least one team came back to theT3 site and re-hunted it!).

With 5 Ts placed we set off to hide the final Transmitter, time for a little more trickery! Having established the hunting area with four Ts in the vicinity, T6 was to look like it was up on Santiago but in reality it was in my truck which we parked in Irvine. This transmitter ran 20W to a five element beam, pointing over the mountains back to the main hunting area, it was on 147.585MHz and the sign in sheet at T5 alerted the hunters to listen there.

The plan worked out exactly as intended and the hunters entered an area South of T5 with some interesting roads, WA6TQQ got seriously stuck for about 45 minutes and suffered damage to his truck. By all accounts beam headings were mostly to the South and West with no reports of North bearings where the T actually was. The T was so strong in this area that at times it could not be attenuated sufficiently to take a bearing. Nobody managed to find T5 and WA6TQQ spent the night in the area, resuming the hunt on Sunday. The hiders retired to the Country Suites at Corona, being the only motel that had vacancies.

At least three teams did go up to Santiago as hoped although, curiously enough, they were not looking for T6 but still trying to figure out where T5 was!

Nobody ever did find T5 but WA6TQQ discovered T6 by tuning around and did eventually sign in on Sunday afternoon to win the hunt.

Oh yes! About T5, it was located just a few hundred yards away from T2. As you entered the dirt road you turned right to get to T2, turning left instead would take you to T5, up over the top of the hill and way down into the canyon. T5 was well North of Dawson Canyon Road but all the hunters were South of there.