Hiders: Tom KE6VCR and Joe KE6PHB
Location: Superstition Mtn. north west of El Centro
Steve's Stuck Durango
The Hider’s Story
This hide was conceived back
in December whilst enjoying the area on an off road trip. As I had been
all over the area in the buggy and on quads, I came back in the Explorer
to ensure that all of the areas I had in mind would be accessible by the
standard fare of the All Day Hunter. I made it to four of the seven original
sites and felt that two of those would be enough of a challenge for one
hunt. As it turns out, I was right. Now, how to get a signal to the start
point. On the last reconnaissance visit, the nine-element beam driven by
150 watts would not bring up the PV repeater. Darn, we’ll need a remote
come on T located on Laguna in case we can’t get a signal using the clothesline.
Friday morning I am joined by Bruce, KF6AUW and we load his buggy in my
motor home/trailer and he drives my Explorer and we head up to Laguna to
place T-1 in case it’s needed. This is a 35 watt T with a four element
yagi placed 25 feet up a radio tower at one of out club sites. Back down
to the desert floor and we are joined by Joe, KE6PHB and Eric, KF6AUV.
Bruce, Joe and I head up to the repeater site in the Explorer with Eric
on his quad. When we get to the top, we start looking for the necessary
real estate for the clothesline. The perfect spot is located and we begin
the arduous task of erecting the 100’ monster. The slope requires a tall
support at the north end so we measure the appropriate length of two by
four and fix them together. Ooopps, the three inch screws are nowhere to
be found. Now we remember why Eric rode his quad. Eric makes the sixteen
mile round trip to camp in 45 minutes and returns with the screws and three
other hams from San Diego who have come to watch the fun and enjoy the
OHV area. Together we all erect the clothesline. Backwards. Ooopps, another
45 minutes and all is well except for the pummeling I will suffer all weekend.
Back to camp as the sun is coming down. Dinner, PicCon programming and trying to explain what will happen the next day to non T-hunters. Saturday morning, we head back to the site to set up the transmitter and adjust the match on the antenna. I point out where I’d like the other three main transmitters placed. At 9:50 I call Scott and test our signal. Scott hears the 25 watt signal and reports it “barley audible” with on sideband with his preamp. Apparently no one else can hear anything so I raise the power to 50 watts. Signal is a little better but Scott then calls back and says it was airplane scatter and not readable. OK, kick the amp on and 150 watts has a signal that is heard on FM. Start the hunt. I tell Scott that I will provide a steak dinner to the team that finds T-2 (our main transmitter) first. Now to place the other three transmitters. Bruce and Eric take off in the buggy to place T-0 on the adjacent repeater site and Joe and I head back to camp to place the two micro voice T’s. I bragged that the hunter’s would be in the area by 14:00 – 15:00. The first hunter we spotted was Don and Steve. I had a micro voice T on a mini ATV (un suspended Honda 70cc three wheeler) that I planned to ride around on to provide fun and amusement. Don and Steve had different plans. They totally ignore the Camp T and the ATV T and kept hauling butt up Wheeler Road. I couldn’t keep up with them on the mini ATV so I transferred the micro T to the buggy and Joe and I raced to catch up to them. We finally caught them and shadowed them at a distance to see if we could sucker them into looking for our mobile T. No luck. They stayed focused on T-2. Finally we came to a place where I could pass by right next to them. They didn’t even flinch as we went by, in fact, they didn’t even recognize us at this point. Finally we get tired of cat and mouse and we pull up and stop with them. We chat for several minutes and tell them we’ve got air and tow straps at camp if they need to air down or get stuck. They laugh and continue on. They still don’t hear the micro T on the buggy right next to them. We let them get on their way but they look like they are headed in the right direction so we shadow them again until they got to the top of the repeater site. Now they hear the micro T and sign in. We talk some more hoping that they will not recognize that T-2 is just over a small ridge 100 yards away. Just as it looks like they are going to leave the area, Don hauls out his sniffer and starts walking towards the T. Within a couple minutes they spot the clothesline and head down and sign in. It is now 16:45 and this is the first sign in at any of the transmitters. Don approves of my antenna and makes a suggestion on how to improve it. Then we hear Deryl, N6AIN calling for help on the hunt frequency. Don says he’ll come and help but I tell him to keep hunting that we’ve got enough manpower and equipment to pull them out. We get GPS coordinates from Deryl and plot a course, fourteen miles as the crow flies. Bruce is confident that we can straight line it to them with the buggy and quads. After 45 minutes and six miles goes by it becomes apparent that this is not the prudent way to them so we radio back to camp for reinforcements and I double back in the Explorer and we head out to S2 to locate them. Five minutes before we arrive they announce that they are unstuck with the aid of other vehicles so we gather them up and return back to camp just after dark. Wayne and Patty are there and Deryl and Steve are thankful to relax for a while and tell their story. Several of us were very happy to make friends with the KEG of Heineken. Wayne commented that we had just set a new ALL DAY precedent in the liquid refreshment department and vowed that he and Peter would have to live up to it next month! Jippy wandered in a while later and added to the party. Chips, salsa, hot dogs and drinks were enjoyed by all that wanted them. It is now 22:00 hours and Wayne, Patty, Deryl, Steve and Jippy decide to head for home. N6MI has been contacted and has circled the hunt area two and a half times and decides to check out without finding anything. All I kept hearing him say was that he had never heard a signal make it to PV from below sea level before. Just after their dust settles, Doug and David show up. Picture about a dozen or so San Diego Hams sitting around the camp fire as they pull up. (remember the KEG?) They all race to the ATV micro T to get it mobile. Doug and David ignore the ruckus and the transmitters and come in the motor home for food. While they are eating they tell us all about their 5 hours spent on Santa Rosa Mountain with 40dB of attenuation. We laugh and warn them about hunting in the desert at night. They decide they’ve had enough sustenance and head out to find the two local micro T’s they can hear in camp. They bag the motor home T right away but the Clowns on the ATV keep them at bay for another ten or fifteen minutes. Doug and David were good sports about it and headed out into the desert to look for more transmitters. We once again warn them about getting stuck… About an hour goes by and Bruce and I decide to take the quads out to see how they are doing. As we are driving up the road we are looking for likely suspects and Bruce notices a flashing light partway up the hill about two miles distant. We stop to decide which way to go and notice that the flashing light is flashing SOS in Morse code. Well, that must be Doug. We ride over and sure enough, Doug has the Toyota high-centered on a dune partway up the hill. We help them dig it out and get it back down on hard ground and suggest that they not go UP anything until morning. We let them go and then we head up to T-2 to lower the power and re-synchronize with T-0. Then we went back down to T-4 where Doug and David have just signed in and they decide to settle in for the night. We head back to camp and are in the rack by 02:00. Long day.
09:00 Doug and David are back in camp saying they are going to try the back side of the mountain for access to T-0 and T-2. We wish them luck and have breakfast. 09:30 and they call in checking out. Well I for one was glad that I could start picking things up. At 14:00 as we just closed the hatch on the Explorer after breaking down the clothesline, the wind picked up to about 30Mph. It would have been UGLY taking that thing down in that gale. I hope you all had fun. I had a blast setting this one up and got a lot of good off roading in too boot. The two rescues were a bonus as well. The San Diego hams in attendance have a ton of respect for all of you and the tenacity that
all of you showed. Many of them will make an appearance with me in the future to see what being on the other end of the beam is like…
Now for the results.
First place and winners of the steak dinner and the only team to find T-2 is KF6GQ and KD6LAJ. (Sorry for not being there to pay off on the dinner, blame N6XFC for getting stuck.)
Start Total Total Call/s Miles T’s Order Miles KF6GQ/LAJ 083.0 4 ATV,2,4,CAMP 180.3 N6IDF/KF6GWV 614.0 3 CAMP, ATV, 4 295.0 WA6RJN/KZF 084.0 3 CAMP, ATV, 4 357.0 WB6JPI 000 2 CAMP, 4 376.2 KC6TNJ/PATTY DNF N6XFC/AIN DNF N6MI DNF (Had over 400 miles logged before quitting) Thanks to: Bruce Denny KF6AUW Joe Loughlin KE6PHB Eric Williams KF6AUV John Austin N6RLV Jerry Gastil K6DYD Dave Jorde N9XT Marty Herlihy K6KTP Damon Jorde For all the help and companionship.