September 29, 2007

I had a plan.
I would hide north of missing piece of Highway 2 and see if any hunters would:

1)    Go up to Crystal Lake
2)    Go once again up Hwy 2 from the west to the tunnels
3)     try to go up to the section of the closed road

On the map I found such a spot. It was about 5/6ths of the way to the end of the dirt road running along Pinyon Ridge, 4N56 Angeles Forest. Looks very good on Google Earth and on Topo 5 and in the Forestry map. I went there and found some interesting stuff.

Hwy 2 coming from the east ends at Vincent Gulch. At this point there are two dirt roads one going up and one going down. They were both open on Tuesday Morning when I was there. The upper road will get to Pinyon Ridge but the bottom road just runs under the ridge and although you can get to the ridge it is a way around. If you try to get there from 138 or the paved roads north of the forest you will really get a run around. The most direct way is very hard to locate off of Big Pines Hwy and if you drive clear into Valyermo it’s another 20 miles of dirt. Should be fun…

The altitude of Pinyon Ridge is 6800 ft and the start is about 1000 ft and in between are a number of 9000+ ft peaks. There is a gap that Topo 5 says is only 8500 ft in between Throop Peak and Mt. Burnham. It is obvious when looking at the mountains from the ridge. The highest point of the gap is at Hwy 2, the closed part east of the tunnels. The Line-of-sight to the start is 29.25 miles so I don’t think the altitude difference is too much for a knife edge reflection. I will run 30 watts horizontally polarized into an 11 element beam and that should rock the boat even with a bad inversion. The coordinates of the magic spot are: N34 24.128 W117 46.942

The quickest time is 1:53 for 82 miles through Vincent Gulch turn off of Hwy 2 west of Wrightwood 4N56. Next is through Hwy 138 to Vista Largo to CRN4 To 4N12 (impossible to spot the turnoff) to 4N56 at 83.5 miles and 2:06. So I expect the good fastest hunters to be there in about twice the fastest time or 4 hours. It starts at 9:00 so they can be there at 1:00.

I am thinking of hiding another transmitter at Crystal Lake but it is 90 miles around the mountain and it doesn’t make much sense for me to hide them serially and I have never gotten the AF6O box to turn-on on schedule. Perhaps a small Transmitter at the end of the ridge road and another down in the valley toward Valyermo.  The forest map shows 4N55 as gated so You have to go clear back to Hwy2 to get on the lower road and another 6-7 miles of dirt to get down to the valley below Pinyon Ridge. Such a good plan.

Plans are only just plans.

The day arrived. Off I went to Pinyon Ridge with two 30 watt transmitters two big car batteries and 7 little Squawkbox transmitters, one 13 el Yagi with erection mast, several other smaller antennas. One of the squawkboxed required a BNC type antenna so I had a 5/8 pushup for it.

I arrived at Pinyon Ridge about 8:30 and erected the 11el antenna and at 9:00AM I started T9, an AF6O box driving a fan cooled 30 watt amp. T9. It horizontally polarized andwas pointed at the start through a gap in the 7000 ft mountains south of Pinyon Ridge. No one heard it. Oh my, a repeat of the all day. I could hear them transmitting at the start so I knew something was wrong and sure enough I had failed to connect the amplifier to the AF6O box. Once that happened, they could hear something.  The hunt was on.

Now comes the innovation. While I was sitting there at the transmitter site, I recorded the audio of T9 on all seven of the squawkboxes. I then drove to the end of the Pinyon Ridge Road and scattered all seven around within about 100 ft. It was a steady drone of T9 like noise at that place and for about 5 miles in either direction and Most of them could be heard in Palmdale, Pearblossom and even in Wrightwood.

But the fun was not over. I left Pinyon Ridge and returned to Vincent Gulch on Hwy 2 and took 4N11 down to Paradise Springs where it becomes paved and hid T7, the other 30 Watt transmitter in a culvert with a 5/8 Larsen antenna that barely reached above the highway pavement. This canyon is about ½ mile south of the Pinyon Ridge road but some 4000 ft lower and fairly narrow. The trip from T9 to T7 is about 12 miles of good dirt road. Note that the forestry and AA maps both show a road, 4N55 that connects Pinyon Ridge and 4N11, but in reality it does not exist. You have to go all the way up to Vincent Gulch on Hwy 2 to get between the two roads.

The reflections from T7 would give bearings that were everywhere and the only way to find it was to just drive the road because it was there not because any bearings said it was there. This transmitter could be heard at Vincent Gulch, all over Pinyon Ridge and I am sure other places.  

After planting T7 I went on into Pearblossom and had lunch. I then returned to Pinyon Ridge by way of Jackson Lake on Big Pines Hwy by taking 4N12. This intersection is unposted and really hard to find.  More dirt.

This is a classic WWNIATT, technically difficult, close in and usually achievable in daylight. I used less than one tank of gas finding the site, planting the transmitters, working HF and removing the transmitters. My total mileage was just at 200.

I sat on the ridge and worked HF for a few hours with a lot of success. I talked to about 6 countries and most of Texas (they were having a contest) and really enjoyed myself. There hasn’t been a sunspot for about 100 days so the bands really sucked but it was very quiet up there.
There were two teams of hunters, Don, KF6GQ and Deryl, N6AIN. According to a phone conversation or two with Deryl, he went up the road to Crystal Lake and then went up Hwy 2 to the tunnels and the block. He then went north on Angeles Forest Hwy and over to Pearblossom. He went up into Devils Punchbowl and places around there which is just west of Pinyon Ridge but totally inaccessible without going up to Vincent Gulch or Jackson Lake. He did go up the canyon to Vincent Gulch and stumbled across T7 (at 2:37 and 109.9 miles) but never figured out to get on the next dirt road at Vincent Gulch that goes to Pinyon Ridge. According to Deryl, Don tried Crystal Lake and Glendora Mountain Rd. but never got to the north side of the mountains.

Deryl is the winner as he found a transmitter.

It’s a shame that more didn’t come out for this hunt as it was a really good one.