By Travis Wood - AE6GA (New Guy)
This would be my first T-hunt with the t-hunter.org group of folks. You guys are an intense, great bunch! I had a blast even if I only found 3 of the 10 Ts. They were probably the 3 simplest Ts, but I feel happy I found them anyway.
I came down from Lancaster to the starting area and used the Kings Hawaiian Restaurant as my fist destination in my laptop map program. Once I arrived there, I got on the air and asked for directions to the start point and was warned that there were two Crest Roads to look out for. I made it to the first lower one and passed it by going up the hill looking for the second upper one. I started to get nervous as I thought that the second one might be close to the first one - just when I got on frequency again to ask again for further instructions, I came upon the second Crest Road and overshot it, turned around and when East to the area where there were other T-hunters were hanging out. I counted 7 vehicles (seemingly all four wheel drive types) all with ride along passengers. I took the time to look into most of the vehicles and they were really decked out with cool RDF gear reminiscent of a mobile NASA mission control room. That’s when I started to get an idea of the intensity of these hunters and how much more experienced they probably were. I felt good that most of their equipment was the same kind of stuff that I had brought along with me. But I could also tell they knew how to use their equipment better then myself. Most of them had the ability to change polarization from inside the vehicle unlike my fixed polarization 4-element color-coded quad.
After getting to know a few of the other hunters, they presented to me a really nifty cool set of “California T Hunters” round door magnets for my truck! Wow! Thanks Guys! They matched my trucks camouflaged paint schema surprisingly well! They also look really neat on my truck! They also make my truck look more “official” when hunting and people do not look at me as suspiciously as other times I have been T-hunting.
Since this was my first time hunting with this group, they made an agreement that they would not “lie” to me, but they might not answer any question that would give me an advantage. Note to myself: looks like I had better get use to “lies” for future hunts. Little do they know that they have nothing to fear from little-O-me! In all likelihood, you could tell me exactly where they were located and I still would probably not be able to find them - but I will let them find that out and took advantage of their one time hospitality by asking a few questions about this hunt and how it compares to other hunts they have been on. After talking to a few of them on the road, turns out this is a pretty average hunt where one (or more) of the Ts is hearable from the starting location and other lower powered Ts are hearable from the high powered Ts or are along the way to the higher power Ts. This is exactly what I found.
I heard T9 and T8 from the start and my initial bearing was towards Littlerock - or just outside the Antelope Valley where I live. It took me a little time to figure out exactly how the Ts identified themselves and was still a little fuzzy as I started to go back in the direction of home down the 405 to the 14. I pulled off the 405 to get some gas and got back on just to meet another team going north on the 405 in the same direction. They saw me and we waved as we both traveled down the 405. I felt much better that I saw them. I knew at least I was not too far off track and that someone else was going the same direction, so I was probably going in the right direction. About where the 405 meets the 5 I lost the other team - or rather - they lost me. This location was where you could hear more Ts. I talked to them later and they said they pulled off at that location to get more bearings for these other newer Ts we were now able to hear. I continued down the 5 to the 14 and started to go up the 14 towards home when I reached Sand Canyon Road and the signals started to get much weaker. I pulled of the 14 and got some bearings and a new set of batteries for my GPS. The signals were all pointing to the East - down Sand Canyon Road. So I went down the road with the signals getting weak and strong like a roller coaster. The road changed names to "Little Tujunga Canyon Road". Just when the mountains were all around me, I turned around a curve and all of the sudden my radio lit up, and I could hear practically every T! Now I have never before heard so darn many T all at once on top of each other. Most all of the previous hunts I have ever been on have had, maybe, 5 Ts in all. They were carefully synchronized so they would not transmit on top of each other. This was very different! I was already suffering from trying to identify the Ts by ID, and now this! Ok, so I pull over and start taking bearings for some of the strongest Ts. I sat there for about an hour getting initial bearings for the Ts and trying to discriminate between them when I saw other teams drive by. I felt much better at this point, as I knew I was in the right area and close to bagging my first T.
I decided that they were most likely along the main Tujunga Canyon Road - I was only one third correct. I set my second receiver to the third harmonic and hooked up my third harmonic antenna to it and drove slowly down the road. I came across my first T (I think it called itself T-10) at N34-21.115 W118-22.946. I pulled up next to the T and next to another hunter. I sat there in my truck and took a few more bearings while he got out and found it first. When I saw he got back into his vehicle and drove off, I got out and looked for it myself. Found it, and logged it as my "First One".
I got back on the Tujunga Canyon Road and started to back track my path to a little road that went north and south called "Santa Clara Truck Trail". I could tell that there were at least two Ts one to the north (T-4?) and one to the south (T-6?). I went on the northern road that turned out to be an old semi-paved pot holed service road. I went down it about 2 miles and decided (mistakenly) that they would not put it down this crappy road and only on the main road. So I turned around and met the Tujunga Canyon Road again and proceeded down it back past T-10 that I had logged before. I continued to go slowly down the road and measuring T-8 and T-9 to be along a real bad dirt road that I "for sure" discounted as a road they would hide one down. I came across T-7 when it broke the squelch of my third harmonic receiver and near a little creek bridge. I though it was near the bottom of the bridge. I saw another hunter up the road a little ways and got out of my truck and hunted around the little creek bridge near T-7. It looked like it was coming from the other T-hunters truck pulled up along the side of the road. So I waited for him to get back in his truck and leave - then I started to hunt near that location and found it just down the side of the road at N34-20.789 W118-21.958. It had many elements on it and focused the beam towards the little creek I was hunting around before. Tricky!
I continued down the Tujunga Canyon Road and saw "Kagel Truck Trail" turn off where I though T-9 and T-8 might be, but continued down the road for more easier Ts that might be near the main road in. I then came across the voice T near "Gold Creak Road" but though it must still be near the main road. I got out and searched with my 5th harmonic antenna on the 3rd harmonic (my mistake) and was chasing ghost images for about 15 min when another team stopped by and they turned down the Gold Creak Road to hunt. I realized my error and got a bearing down the Gold Creak Road and also turned down it. I pulled over near the other team and the both of us looked in the bushes for the elusive T. I found it just before them attached to the traffic sign on the next bend up from where I had parked. I signed in just a few second ahead of the other father and son team.
This is where I should have stopped hunting, as I did not find any other Ts. I did have a nice tour of the mountains looking for T-8 and T-9. I went down to the 7-11 at the bottom of the road and got a Big Gulp to refresh myself. Then I drove up Kagel Canyon Road to some little homes along side the mountains. I could not find a way to connect to the other half of Kagel Canyon Road in order to get to T-8 and aT-9. I could hear that T-8 had lost its ID and was just putting out a blank carrier at this point. I came across another team who was nice enough to tell me that I was correct as to the location of T-8 and T-9, but there was no way to access them from this side of the mountain. So down the mountain to the south I went after following the other team around a few dead ends. I met another team near the 7-11 (another Big Gulp) and pulled over to talk to them and told them I needed to access T-9 and T-8 from the other side of the mountain and they agreed.
I returned to Tujunga Canyon Road and went back up it to Kagel Truck Road - the only spot I could see on my map to get to these two Ts. By the time I arrived to the turnoff for Kagel Truck Road, it was already 7 PM (or very dark). I went down the road and saw a freshly stripped yellow car and passed it by - on to T-8 and T-9. I went very slowly down this road by myself, as this road was very rocky and not well maintained for my 2-wheel drive truck. I reached a point where I could tell that T-8 was a left branch and T-9 was a right branch. I continued down the right branch towards T-9 and approached a point where there was a steep grade up with large diagonal ruts - bigger then my tires - going across it. I went up a little farther and found my truck wanted to slip backwards down the ruts - almost over the edge of the narrow rocky road! I decided that this was just a little too much for my wimpy driving skills in my 2wd truck and retreated backwards to a narrow spot I could barley turn around. I knew I was close as my attenuation was around 80 db but I was too wimpy to continue down that road. I passed the stripped car again just in time to watch it get loaded on a large flat bed truck and sheriff department patrol car follow me down the road to the Tujunga turnoff location. He read my new magnet door stickers as he passed me on the turnoff point. I think that is why he did not pull me over in order to find out why I was down that road. I was going crazy at this point doubting that anyone would hide two Ts on that crazy intense road!
After rejoining Tujunga Canyon Road, I came across another father and son team to the side of the road. I pulled over and talked to these great guys for about an hour. I told them I was done for the day and had only found 3 Ts. They confirmed my hunch that the two Ts were down Kagel Truck Road. In my opinion, it should have been renamed to: "Kagel 4wd ONLY Truck Road". They also added: "I would have taken that road in my old VW if that was what I was driving today. I just saw a 2wd VAN go down that road!" Ok, shish, rub it in! I am a wimp! I admit! I just could not see myself going down that road and falling off the edge or getting stuck by myself and having to ask for help to get unstuck - what kind of first impression would that have been? They also gave me some very helpful suggestions on what to bring on my next all day hunt (snacks, maps, etc) They also told me of some interesting stories of previous hunts they had both been on and hidden Ts for. They had some really good map software that looked like it could give them an advantage for these kinds of hunts. They also hinted that I should have gone down Santa Clara Truck Trail farther in both directions. Thanks guys, for not lying to me (this time).
After talking to these great guys, I decided to go home - back in the direction of Lancaster down Tujunga Canyon Road and past Santa Clara Truck Trail that I had dismissed incorrectly at the start of the hunt. I went a little ways down Santa Clara Truck Trail towards T-6 and then decided that since it was so late that I should just go home. I turned around and when north to the 14 and then home to Lancaster.
I had a great time! All the Ts I found, I did
not need any hints to find. I leaned from talking to others that
this is a pretty normal All Day T-Hunt. Wow! All I can say
is "Intense!" The roads the Ts are hidden on are not what I am used
to. I should learn more about off road driving when I go on other
T-Hunts with this group. I look forward to next time where I will
have to remember that they might just "lie" to me. Two can play that