August 28, 2010

It was a beautiful day. The heat wave has cooled and temps were in the 80s.
I set off on schedule for Kings to get an English muffin but that all changed.
I had taped the roof plug with some low grade duct tape the month before
(San Diego Free-for-all) and with all the heat for the last 3 weeks the tape
can loosened and was making the most obnoxious buzzing sounds. So I ordered
Eggs and Corned Beef Hash for breakfast. Stopped at Home Depot on the way up
 to the start and bought some gorilla tape and while sitting alone at the
start, I retaped the roof plug. Deryl/Ray, and Doug soon showed up and I
proudly displayed my Lego toy Rubik cube solver.

The transmitter (T3) came on near 10:AM and had a bearing of 60 degrees .
We mostly agreed that we were going to Big Bear. I had a plan about Big Bear.
It is a basin about 10 miles across and 20 miles long with some rather good
reflectors all around the periphery. I have wandered around that area for many
hours and not found anything. The bearings all seem to go in every direction.
I would take some “good” bearings before I got into the basin. So I decided to
go up Hwy 330 to Hwy 18 in Running Springs and drive up top Keller peak and get
a bearing. This wouldn’t be a good cross with the start bearing, but it would
be some 50 miles closer and outside of the basin. I got 65 degrees on T3 which
didn’t cross the 60 from the start but it clearly removed the south side of the
lake and all the ski resorts from the hunt for T3. I could also hear T2 from
Keller, slightly south of T3.

Of to Big Bear and no decision off to Fawnskin at the dam. As expected I was
getting bearings to the east, north and south on T3 but the Keller bearing
covered the Holcum Valley and this has lots of nice dirt roads. Little did I
know.  I swung a left into the Holcum valley and went North for a couple miles,
heard “snake” but  T3 was definitely east so I turned east and was chugging
along approaching the crossing of the Keller bearing and who should show up
but Don and Steve. We talked for about a half hour and I proceeded on east with
them following. After a mile or two I was getting a very north T3 and there
didn’t seem to be anything like a mountain in that direction so I took some
road north. They still followed.

The road was getting fairly lumpy with rocks and sand but it was still 2WD and
low gear stuff. Biggest issue was the low hanging scrub oaks bending up the
antenna (V-Pol). I found T3 but they had put it up on a rocky ledge that was a
climb. I took a picture of Don signing in for me. Careful listening showed
another voice transmitter “meathead” was close and I found it.. Well not really
found it as it too was up a rocky hill at the base of a really gnarly jeep trail
that I was very sure that the 4Runner wouldn’t like,. I could sorta see it up
there some 100 ft above my current elevation. Steve signed me in on his little pad.

T2 could be clearly heard from both T3 and “Meathead” and it held a constant
bearing to the SE. Don/Steve let it slip that this was the “Dinner” T and should
be last. They also said there were 5 Ts. I had not heard the fifth one. I had
found T3, and “Meathead” and heard “Snake” and T2. So it was time for “Snake”.

I thought the roads had been a bit rough up to now with some low branches and 10
inch rocks, but things quickly accelerated. The rocks were getting bigger, much
bigger like bigger than the 4Runner and what is more interesting is that the road
I was on made turns that were suitable for vehicles with 4 ft axles, a 4 ft wheel
base and a 10 ft turning radius. I had to stop and walk to see if there really was
a road around the other side of the 10 ft rock.  Snake was getting louder, much
louder than it should have for it is a little 50 mW transmitter that Don built
some 20 years ago.

I was having trouble hearing it as it kept doubling with T3 which was very loud at times.  
Now, I was very close to “Snake” with 60+ dB of attenuator and full scale and took a
“road” that went toward the transmitter but failed to have any clearance and I snapped
off my antenna post all together. I was now without any bearing capability other than
sniff. “Snake” was just up the original road about 50 ft and Don signed me in.

It was now just after 5PM and dinner was being served at T2. I followed Don/Steve to a
nice spaghetti/meatball feast with Scott and Tom who had found T2 and waited for dinner
and Doug who finally wandered by, Lynn and Lynn and Dons friends who own the cabin.

I didn’t sign into any transmitters although I was I had “found” three, led to one and
as it turns out, the T3 that was bothering the “Snake” was really not the same T3 as was
heard at the start and the first one I found but the fifth transmitter. I entertained
the group with the Rubik cube robot which didn’t fair well with all the offroad bouncing
around and kept throwing the cube on the floor.

But the food was great, the people wonderful and the hunt most delicious. I think the
4Runner enjoyed it the most. It got to stretch its shocks.