All Day T-Hunt

August 25, 2007

Split Mountain California






4 teams 11 transmitters


N6AIN found none


KC6TNJ & found none


N6MI/W6VCR found 5 (The main T& and itís kicker T4, on the hill T9 and itís kicker T1, and the NOAA T)


KA6KZZ/KC6NFF/KG6CBD found 6 (The main T7, on the hill T9,  3 at the campground and the NOAA T) ÖTHE WINNERS

Mileages were in the 250-300 range




I decided to put on an old fashion ALL DAY Thunt. One that is hard, one that canít be found in daylight on Saturday, one that has some purpose other than just the hunt and one that can entertain the old and new hunters. I think I did this.


It all started by getting lost, blowing a Generator in old Zook and punching a hole in my windshield. On this momentous hunt put on by Don, KF6GQ back in the old days I went through Split Mountain and on about 10 miles before the lights went out. Don wasnít there but I got the closest. At that time I was totally amazed by Split Mountain and decided to hide there someday. Someday was last Saturday.


Well Split mountain is hiding from the start by a lot of big mountains so to get a signal out of there was a challenge. See Figure 1 for the profile from the start (T7 location) to the end (Crenshaw and Crest). 


Figure 1.   T7 to PV


I had considered two plans to solve the start signal problem.


Plan A was to have a come on transmitter on Santa Rosa peak and another at Split Mountain. The Split mountain transmitter would be located at Fish Lake with the only way to get there was to go through the entire Split mountain.

Figure 2 Split Mountain


Figure 3 Split Mountain and Fish lake


In the dry lake bed I would hide a fairly large number of voice transmitters all saying the same or nearly the same thing and within a 100 yards or so of each other. They would be each coded and the hunter would have one sign in sheet for all of them.  Neat plan.


Plan B considered getting a signal to the start from near Split Mountain. I examined the DeLorme Topo5 a lot and found a narrow path the just skirted Santa Rosa and San Jacinto and hit San Gorgonio. According to the elevation and calculations or radio horizon I should be illuminating the upper 2500 ft of San Gorgonio Mountain. It should be heard at the start. I would then have a fairly strong transmitter at Fish Lake beaming through Split Mountain and even with the narrow pass and the twists and turns I should be able to get the signal the 2 miles to the spot for T7. Again I would hide the many talking transmitters in Fish Lake. Better plan.


I went down there in early August and checked it all out. I could hear the PV repeater on 13 elements at about S 1.5 from my proposed T7 site in Plan B so that became the official plan. I also did not like driving the 2 Ĺ hours to be at Santa Rosa to see if the T7 at Split Mountain could be heard. Screw it, if the conditions were such that you couldnít hear the Split Mountain T7 then I would give an initial start bearing on the phone. Wonders of wonders is that there was full phone service through out the area.


BTW, when I was there in early August it was 109 degrees but I figured no one would be there in daylight anyway and the night temperatures were running in the low 80s.


So on with Plan B.


Of course it all came undone and what was finally done had little to do with Plan B.


I decided to make a T-Hide Video and I may have enough recorded to do that. I will see. I took about an hour of raw video and about 30 still pix so maybe there will be a video.


I packed up the usual stuff of the 4Runner in hunt configuration and in addition I had two 30 watt transmitters, a 13 el beam and a 11 el beam, a 4 el beam and a collinear vertical, 9 talking Ts (squawkboxes), 4 little CW transmitters and one 100mW AF6O box. To 20 ft masts and mounts, three 12V storage batteries, 2 gal of water and a charge card.


I got up at 5:30AM in the dark and drank my morning orange juice and set off. At about 9:00AM almost to the T7 site, I was stopped by Ranger Bill who wanted to know what I was doing. We chatted for a while and he explained that his boss was a HAM and what I was doing required a permit. Well we were the only people on the planet that seemed to know that and I asked if I could call someone and get a permit. (It was no charge) and He explained that no way was anyone working on Saturday or Sunday in the permit place. I could not hide in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Well Split Mountain, Fish Lake and I were in the Park. We chatted some more and he was helpful, but not relenting on the Fish Lake hiding. There went Plan B. I (we) had an hour to solve the problem. He pointed out that about a mile from where I had sited T7 was BLM land and I could hide there. So I ran a quick profile of getting to San Gorgonio with no real luck but here is the profile to Baldy.

Figure 4 Split Mountain to Baldy


 This offered some chance of knife-edging a bit over Black mountain and  might just make it. It was the only game in town. I set it up and turned it on and no one could hear it. I wasnít too surprised. I swung the antenna back a bit toward San Jacinto/Santa Rosa etc and left it there as this gave the hardest hunt with all of the mountains lighting up.


Figure 5  Santa Rosa, San Jacinto and San Gorgonio from T7

 I gave those that wanted a start bearing to go East. Scott and Tom didnít want a clue and they went to the reservoir and actually heard it at 125 degrees, not too bad as the true reading is 115. Shame they didnít believe it.


Since I couldnít hide at Fish Lake or inside the Split Mountain I put the other big transmitter and vertical collinear on a 500 foot hill with a view into the split and a very gnarly 0.4 mi. road. I drove up that road twice but none of the hunters did. They walked up. My motivation was hauling the 70 lb battery up or down.


Now Ranger Bill was trying but had his rules. The hill he said was unposted private property inside of the park and belonged to some mining company. He said I could hide there. Since it was not posted it looked OK to me.   He also figured that I could hide at the Fish Creek campground at the mouth of Split Mountain as what I was doing was the same as some camper setting up a satellite dish. (this is known as Ranger logic).


At the campgrounds I hid a number (6)  transmitters all with 100 ft of each other. One was blank carrier for 2 sec every 30 sec and connected to the 13 element horizontal beam.  One was explaining about going through Split mountain. And the other four all said ďBe careful, the snake will eat the wabbit.Ē The cacophony on the campground was nice.


Near the two 30 Watt transmitters (the main T7 and T9 up on the hill) was a small 50 mW transmitter. There was one squawkbox at Elephant Trees pull out on the paved road warning all about the possibility of flash flooding in the area. So if you have been counting, that is a total of 11 transmitters. Eight were found.


Figure 6 All the transmitters


It was a hard hunt as the main T was at 170 ft elevation and fairly well surrounded by 8000-10000 ft mountains. No direct bearing to the transmitter was possible as all of the peaks were reflecting to each other and to the hunter. Sorry about the loss of signal at the start.