Two weekends before the All Night hunt, Melanie and I decided that we needed to
take a trip up Hwy 395 to find a good hiding spot for the hunt. I had a few places
in mind, one of which was Chimney Peak Wilderness area. After checking several
places on the topo mapping program, we found the spot we thought might work. We
unloaded the 425 Watt amp, radio, 13b2, and battery and lugged it all down the hill.
After finding the correct bearing, we pointed the antenna back to the start point
and tried to key up the Palos Verdes repeater. We heard nothing. Then I thought
to myself that maybe the repeater is hearing us, we just arenít hearing it. I
flipped on the preamp and tried again. Sure enough, there it was at about S1.
Well, that is good enough for me, letís go scout some more sites.
We decided that we were going to camp in the area, so we went into the Long Valley Campground and checked it out. Unfortunately, Melanie requires trees in her camp spot, and this spot was very lacking in that department. We decided to head back to the Chimney Creek Campground that we had passed on the way up to the main T hiding spot. We drove thru, and finally settled on the last spot in the campground. We were set! Now letís just hope that the space is still available for the weekend of the All Night hunt.
Flash forward to the Friday before the hunt.
I awakened at my normal time of about 3:00AM on Friday morning. Got the coffee brewing around 5:00AM and woke Melanie up around 5:15AM. We packed everything up into the Durango (including the dogs) and the rental Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. Apparently, we forgot one vital thing that we will discover when we get to camp.
I had planned on hiding a couple of squawkboxes on the way up the 395 to give the hunters something to keep themselves awake on the long journey up the highway. Unfortunately, we kind of forgot about this until we got to the 14. No problem though, I remember a nice canyon dirt road that crosses a pipeline just up the road. We had driven on this road on the All Day hunt that Wayne and Pete had done up here about a year ago. We got to the end of the road, and I hiked my fat butt up the hill to plant the T. I figured that 4 9-volt batteries ought to keep this thing running until at least Monday. I planted the T and we went on our way to the campground.
We arrived in the campground around 11:30AM, and began the long and tortuous task of setting up the tent... Well, at least Melanie began the long and tortuous task of setting up the tent. After about 20 minutes, I noticed Melanie was sitting there with Bailey trying to figure out what to do next. I went over to offer my assistance with putting the tent up, and asked her if I could see the instructions to see what to do next. She then told me that she must have thrown them away when she pulled the tent bag out of the box at home!!! Not to worry, she is a smart girl, she will figure it out. Iíve got some barbequing to do myself. As I was barbequing lunch, Melanie informed me that she has it figured out, and that she needs my help to finish setting it up.
After about 25 minutes, we got the tent up, and only had about 3 leftover pieces that they must have just put in the bag by accident. (-;
Oh no, the barbeque! I had forgotten all about the barbeque while we were setting up the tent. I ran back over there only to find some very burnt Hebrew National hot dogs stuck to the grill. Oh well, thatís why we brought enough food to feed a small army. I cooked up some more hot dogs, and we were ready to go... To sleep!
We spent a very cold first night in the tent. When I awoke at 3:30AM to take the dogs out for a little potty break, I checked the thermometer on the Jeep; it was 19 degrees out there! I was amazed at how quiet it was in that campground. It appeared that there were only 3 other campsites being used, and no one and no thing was making a sound. It was really rather eerie.
I awoke for good at 4:30AM, and got up and decided that I would start the coals for breakfast. No, I really did it so I could stand over the little Weber grill and warm up...
I woke Melanie at 5:30AM, and we started breakfast and began to plan out day. First things first, letís find our spot we had tested previously, and get everything setup. As we were driving down the road to where T1 was to be hidden, Melanie calls me on the radio and tells me that the computer is beeping and that it appears that the battery is dead. I have her pull over, and I go and check the connections. Sure enough, the battery is dead. The DC power supply must have come unplugged, no problem! I fiddled with the connections, and nothing. This is just great! I donít remember exactly where the spot is, and it is only marked on the computer topo map! What do we do now? Well, we continued driving up the road to see if we could find the spot. We found a spot that we both agreed was probably the spot, but I could tell Melanie had her doubts. Seeing as I was confident that this was the spot, I told Melanie that this is it, lets unload and carry the 125-pound T box down the hill. We had everything setup at 9:00AM, and were ready to test. I programmed in the Palos Verdes repeater, flipped on the 425Watt amp and preamp, and expected to hear the slight quieting that should have been the repeater. I heard nothing. At this point, I began to panic! What will I do now? This must be the wrong spot, it must be further up the road!!!! After consulting with my back, I decided that this had to do, there was no way I could lug that stuff back up the hill, and Melanie wasnít able to help me bring the heavy stuff down, there was no way she would help me carry it back up.
I ran up to the Durango, and tried to get onto the CONDOR 220 machine located above Lake Isabella that I had used from our hiding spot 2 weeks before. I keyed up and heard nothing! I checked and double-checked the programming, and all was correct. I tried driving up the road a little ways, and still got nothing (though I was later to find out that I was now at our original hiding location). I put the HF/6 meter antenna on the back of the Durango and got on the 6 meter frequency that I had planned on using in case of such an emergency... NOTHING!
Well, I figured that I would stay with the T for 15 minutes and let it run on full power, then I would race down the hill Baja style in the rented Jeep until I got to a point where I could get cell phone coverage. As luck would have it, there was absolutely no coverage until I got to the 178/14 intersection. I made it to this point in a record time of about 25 minutes from the hiding spot.
I decided to give Mike a call to see if anyone could hear anything. ďWhereís the F%^#$% signal David?Ē Uh oh, my fears were correct, there was no signal at the start point. At this point, in good T hider form, I told Mike that my bearing back to the start point was 187 and he hung up and said he would pass the word along. I then took the time out to check my voicemails that I knew would teach me some new words that I was not familiar with... ďYOUR MAILBOX IS FULLĒ Thatís never happened before, hmmm, Iím in trouble!
My first message is from Steve, telling me that no one is hearing anything, and that Deryl is heading up towards the 5/14 and Bob and Cathy are heading up to Cajon Pass. I then think to myself that it is kind of strange that even though no one hears anything, they are heading in the right direction! I then decided that it is time for me to call the only one I can trust to give me a straight answer. I call Deryl, and he tells me that he heard something in my direction that was real short. I asked him if it sounded like a ring, and he said yes! It was now that I began to regret having apologized for there being no signal at the start point, because there obviously was!
At this point, we decided that we should drive down to the little Mobile station/convenience store at the 14/395 interchange and top off on gas and see if the 400 mile T was still Tíing (it was) We got gas and some Atkins friendly marinated vegetables in a jar and made our way back to the 178 so we could hide the rest of the transmitters. We hid what was to be T 3, in an entrance for a wilderness trailhead. As we were starting to drive off, I decided that the message should be changed to reflect the theme of the hunt. I was sure that this would be re-recorded by the first hunter to find it, but it would be good for a laugh. We arrived back in camp, and I setup T2 and pointed it at a very rocky mountain top about 3 miles from our campsite. I then decided to start cooking lunch,. After this, I would take the Jeep out to plant the rest of the Tís. As I was lighting up the charcoal, I thought that the Jeep looked as if it was sitting a little low on the right rear side. I went over to investigate, and found that the tire was flatter than a pancake! I thought maybe I somehow popped the bead on the tire as I was coming over the rocks into our campsite, but as I began to re-inflate the tire with the compressor, I found a slice between the tread of the tire about a quarter inch wide. I checked the road, and the only thing I could find was a very large pinecone that I had run over coming into the site. There were black marks on the cone, and the points were hard as steel. After searching all the common jack locations, I finally decided that it was time to consult the userís manual. Turns out that the jack is located under the back seat. No problem, there are only 3 ice chests and a lot of other junk piled in the back seats. I eventually get the tire changed, and decide that I am not going to go out and hide any more transmitters.
I programmed up the ďkiller watchdogs TĒ and sat down to eat the lunch that Melanie had cooked up, along with the douched vegetables. These things were so strong that I could hardly stand eating them. I managed to finish them all, them decided it was time to relax! Within about 15 minutes of eating the vegetables, I found myself sick. It was now time to get some sleep and see if I could get to feeling better before any of the hunters showed up. I knew I was going to need my strength to defend myself against this angry deaf mob.
I managed to sleep a few winks before the first angry hunter arrived. We got Mike to sign into the Tís in the campground, and then sent him on his way. Numerous other hunters showed up within the next hour or so, all of whom were greeted by the two angry watchdogs, Sissy and Bailey. Bob and Cathy were the last to arrive at the camp, and we convinced them that it would be better if they just stayed in our camping spot for the night. This way they would not have to worry about trying to drive home after finding all the Tís, as I was certain they would all still be going in the morning. Plus, I could use some help lugging T1 back up the hill.
The next morning, we followed Bob and Cathy to the transmitters and picked them all up. The last transmitter we picked up was the 400-mile T, which was still going after more than 2 days.
With the exception of the mapping failure, lack of good signal, the flat tire, I feel it was a successful hunt, and we hope that everyone had a good time.
David and Melanie
And Bailey and Sissy too!