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Big Utah Trip


#1

Hey everyone, for the next three weeks I will be living out of a rental van and touring the national parks of Utah and northern Arizona. Of course I am going to take this opportunity to activate from a couple new associations and a whole pile of new summits.

I’ll be around 14.062 and 7.032 with my MTR3B, depending on the time of day. Sorry to SSB-only chasers in advance, but I’m packing entirely too much stuff already to carry a different radio. I’ll also have 2m on my HT for any locals, but I don’t expect to spend much time on there. Please be patient with my slow, crappy CW. Activations probably won’t be especially long, but mine usually are not anyway.

Because it’s such a long trip, I don’t really know when I’ll be where. I don’t want to file spots for everything right now because plans will likely change due to weather, side trips, etc. and I don’t want a bunch of busted alerts throwing everyone off. I will try to file alerts the day before or the morning of an activation, assuming I can get any cell phone signal.

In the meantime, I’ve created a little table for what I plan to do and very approximately when I plan to do it. I will also try to keep it up to date for longer range planning. It’s posted here: https://www.lumensoutdoors.org/~chris/utah/sota.markdown

I’m hoping there’ll at least be signal from the summits so I can spot, but I should be set up with APRS2SOTA and the SMS gateway and maybe RBN if I’m lucky. If you hear me, please spot me just in case I wasn’t able to do so myself.

I’m willing to entertain other summits I should activate, as long as they are in or near any of the parks and aren’t too difficult to get to. Finally, I’m hoping to work some FM satellite passes in the evenings but that’s an announcement for a different place.


#2

Looks like a great trip! I am familiar with some of your planned locations; Brian Head and Rainbow Point in particular. You may also wish to view Cedar Breaks which is not far from Brian Head, it’s not SOTA but it is a worthwhile visit that does not take up much time. As to cell coverage, I have been in that area using AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon - Verizon has given the best coverage but there are still dead areas, expect that along parts of HWY 14 and HWY 89. Also, you will probably be in some rare grid squares, if you know which grids you’ll be in that may also attract contacts involved in the ARRL Grid Chase.

Enjoy your travels and wishing you success on your activations!

Howard


#3

We’re going to be spending one night camped at Cedar Breaks which I am really looking forward to. It looks like there’s some easy hikes in the area, and the night sky from there should be really impressive. I am on Google Fi for cell phone which I’m usually happy with, but it’s less good for coverage in the mountains. So that could be a bit of a struggle.

I’ve mapped out the grids I’ll be in for purposes of satellites. I’m not sure how rare they are for the grid chase, but there’s not a ton of people there so who knows. Hopefully I don’t get too many callers because it’ll take me a while to get through a pileup on CW, and I’d like to give priority to SOTA chasers.


#4

Some great summits you have listed for your trip! Two suggestions if you have time:

W7U/SU-036 Wilson Peak (you’ll have to pass it near Bryce)–it’s a drive up dirt road.
If you’re doing Delano, you may want to look into City Creek Peak (W7U/BE-002) which is very close to Delano and an easier hike.

Some video of Brian Head/Navajo Pt https://youtu.be/P137JKBTLNM
Hope you enjoy our state!

73,
Mike AC0PR


#5

Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve put them both on my big google map and loaded them up into peakbagger on the phone (well - City Creek Peak anyway, Wilson isn’t on peakbagger). It’s always great to have more options. Who knows what weather or fires or whatever will allow me to do. Drive ups are nice because it’ll be more interesting for my wife, too.

Delano is appealing because of its dual county highpoint status, so I’m really hoping to grab that one. Speaking of county high points, I’d hoped to get up to Fish Lake Hightop and Mount Ellen, but I think those are beyond what I should be doing in a rental van.

Thanks for the video - the whole Brian Head area is looking good. We’re very excited for this trip.


#6

Wow, what an awesome looking trip! It looks like you’ve done a lot of homework!

You don’t have anything scheduled right now on 9/30, but from the right hill in So Utah, you may be able to work many of us, with an HT, that will be on summits in N. Az for the S2S Madness event.

Which place should I monitor for that announcement, amsat-bb ? :smiley: I only need DM27-57,38,48,49, and DM59. Hope to catch you in one or more of those grids and/or summits!

Good luck & 73!
–Chris K7TAB


#7

We’ll be staying at Kodachrome SP the night of the 30th. I don’t see any activatable peaks near there. It looks like most of the alerts are pretty early, though, so maybe I could try to grab them from Rainbow Point in Bryce that morning before we leave. I’d hate to miss all those chaser points.

I don’t really know where to post sat stuff - I’m on one FB group, but it recently split apart into two, or something. I could do amsat-bb if that’s the most useful spot. I was going to look through the rules for their rover award and make some decision. My satellite plan was to basically work FM sats at night when we’re sitting around camp, or perhaps early in the morning before we get going. I’m not going to be pulling over to the side of the road to catch a pass. We’ll be staying the night in DM36, DM37, probably DM38, maybe DN30, DM48, maybe DM49, DM57, and DM58.


#8

Okay, 2m FM might be a bit of a stretch from there! I looked at the elevation profile in Google Earth from the paths between Rainbow Pt and a few our summits (I have a little tool I’m working on that generates the KML - If you would like the KML, just send me an email, @arrl.net works). If I see a 2m spot from you, I’ll give it a try! Most of the ops will operate HF and many will be doing cw.

The official amsat FB group is at https://www.facebook.com/groups/AMSATNA/ & ke4al (at) yahoo.com maintains the amsat upcoming satellite operations webpage. You should easily get the rover award after this trip. The social media points really boost your score. Email me if there is anything I can do to help!

Have a great trip!


#9

I see they just closed the road out to Rainbow Point due to fire, so who knows what’ll be going on in two weeks. Hopefully I can get out there. I’ll put it on my calendar so I don’t forget.

I’ll check out those amsat links, thanks. I hope I can help you out with a grid or two.


#10

You can do Fish Lake Hilltop with the rental van. I did it with Toyota Corolla. However, be careful on the descent. I flowed wring cairns and ended at the wrong canyon about 6 miles from my car. Don’t expect too match activity on 2 meter band.


#11

Well, I am back from Utah and wanted to recap how my SOTA operations went. The brief summary is I only got about 50% of the points I’d hoped, for various reasons. The trip itself was great - lots of things to see, lots of good hiking to do, really interesting parks and scenery. I’m already working on where I want to go on my next trip out there. Turns out it’s to most of the places I missed on this one. Anyway, here’s how each peak went.

  • Monument Peak (W7U/CR-001) - US-6 and US-89 were closed due to fire, so we had to go way around to get to Moab so I didn’t even get to try this peak.

  • Aztec Butte (W7U/SU-058) - This was a fun little peak right in Canyonlands NP. It looks really steep from the road, and it is for a short time but there is trail all the way up. The top is broad and flat with some trees for setting up antennas, though all the talk about cryptobiotic soil made me nervous about stepping off trail. In the end, I set up right on the side of the trail. I worked KK6HWC on FM who was driving around in the park, and then six people on 20m CW after I was able to spot myself with my phone. I was extremely rusty at it, so sorry for being so sloppy. In particular, I incorrectly interpreted the noise coming from my MTR as the battery dying when it was actually interference from my phone, so I’m doubly sorry to W9MRH for changing batteries out right when he was trying to contact me.

  • The Knoll (W7U/GR-031) - Storms coming in kept me from trying this little peak right on the road, and then we did not make it back to the area again later. Maybe next time.

  • Mount Peale (W7U/SU-062) - A week in Utah left me feeling unprepared for tackling a 12k’ summit. I live at about 200’ so it takes me a while to acclimate. We went mountain biking instead. At this point I was feeling pretty down on my SOTA luck on this trip - just two points out of the 24 I’d hoped to have.

  • Abajo Peak (W7U/SU-014) - Finally, some big points. This peak is a drive up, all the way to the summit. The road is decent but not great. There were three or four spots where I really had to slow down and pick a good line. It’s also a very long drive. There were trees below the summit to hang a wire and plenty of places to pull over. The views are great and it’s a nice remote area. I worked five people on 20m CW including VE6UX in Alberta for my only DX of the trip. I was again fairly sloppy on CW, this time also due to having to really focus because of the altitude.

  • Kaibab Plateau HP (W7A/AE-019) - I knew cell phone reception would be iffy here, so I was able to file an alert ahead of time at the lodge on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. This was also a drive up, though it’s just a big flat area on top so it’s hard to tell if you’re ever really at the summit. I decided the radio tower was close enough. Despite being right on time and using the memory keyer and calling for the better part of an hour, I was apparently never picked up by RBN so I was never spotted. I made two contacts with people who must have seen the alert, but they didn’t spot me either. After about an hour, I gave up. That was a fairly demoralizing 10 points down the drain.

  • Brian Head (W7U/SU-016) - Back into Utah. This is yet another drive up 10 pointer. The road was good all the way to just below the summit, but that didn’t stop someone who came up after me from getting a flat tire. This is a really tall mountain with really great views. I had put in an alert for this peak in advance, and because I had cell service I tried an experiment. I used the memory keyer to call several times while I watched spots on my phone. I was never picked up by RBN, but I was able to spot myself manually. That way, I got five contacts pretty quickly. Once the initial burst of contacts went away, I just shut it down so I could eat lunch and enjoy the view. I also had a second peak to do.

  • Navajo Point (W7U/IR-002) - Right across the street from Brian Head. We were able to drive most of the way up it, to the middle of some ski slopes. From there I hiked up maybe a half mile through the thin air to the mostly wooded summit, though there was a great view into Cedar Breaks NM from the very top. I also scared some sort of animal along the way. I was able to spot myself again and was able to get two 20m CW contacts, then nothing. I kept trying to coordinate with K6HPX but he could never hear me. Finally, I got the bright idea to switch over to 40m. He instantly came in huge, followed by three more contacts. I packed up and got out of there. It was nice to log 20 points in a day for a change.

  • Wilson Peak (W7U/SU-036) - I drive part way up, before deciding the road was too sketchy for my rental cargo van. There was one loose and rocky part right at the crest of a little hill that I could just picture getting stuck on. So we turned around and headed to…

  • Rainbow Point (W7U/KA-005) - This had just reopened because the fire had gotten under control. You can drive all the way there, but the very top is a parking lot with tour buses dropping off people, and rangers walking around, and fire trucks doing things, and all sorts of other busy things. I decided to come down the road a bit and set up in the woods. I made one 20m contact, remembered my lesson from Navajo Point, switched to 40m quickly and made four more. Eight more points in the log.

  • Everything else - And then a hurricane made its way up through Baja California, dumping rain and snow on all the high peaks in Utah. That killed any of the big peaks I wanted to do like Nebo, Delano, or Deseret.

  • Teat Mountain (W7U/NU-062) - I tried to grab this drive up on the way back to make myself feel better and increase my score a bit, but it was still closed due to fire.

  • Monument Peak (W7U/CR-001), take two - The fire closure was lifted for this area so we were able to drive almost all the way up it. The last quarter mile is a mess and I decided to walk. There were storms all about, it was very windy, and cell service was nonexistent so I just tried to activate with my HT. I wasn’t able to make any contacts after maybe 30 minutes of spinning around in a circle with the Arrow, at which point my hands were freezing. So this was a bust, but at least I got the county high point.

So there you have it, 40 points in three weeks. I was hoping for closer to 80 but it’s hard to argue with fires and hurricanes. I still had a lot of fun, got two new-to-me associations, and worked a lot of CW contacts. I still don’t understand why I’m never spotted by RBN. That seems to be the biggest thing I need to figure out to unlock some really remote SOTA operations.


#12

Glad you were able to get the ones you did! Hope you enjoyed it!

73,
Mike AC0PR (St. George, UT)


#13

Great job! Congratulations!
Spotting by RBN is a mystery :slight_smile: