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Southeast Arizona in October

I am in the initial stages of planning a trip to southeastern Arizona at the end of October and beginning of November. If all goes according to plan, this will be a car camping and peakbagging trip with plenty of activations thrown in. I’m looking for advice on peaks to add to my list. I’m primarily looking for ultra-prominent peaks, county high points, and short hikes or drive ups. At the moment, I am somewhat limited in how much hiking I can do so I’ll probably do just one real hike and then try to load up on shorter things and drive ups.

These peaks are all for sure:

  • W7A/AW-001 - Mount Lemmon
  • W7A/AW-003 - Mount Bigelow
  • W7A/AE-051 - Sugarloaf Mountain
  • W7A/GR-001 - Greenlee County HP

And then I am hoping to hit some, but not all of these:

  • W7A/AE-007 - Mount Graham - I understand this might still be off limits? Peakbaggers don’t seem to care, but SOTA people do.
  • W7A/AE-011 - Heliograph Peak
  • W7A/AE-012 - Chiricahua Peak
  • W7A/CO-001 - Carr Peak and W7A/AE-013 - Miller Peak

I am basically looking for anything interesting east and south of Phoenix, though I may possibly continue up US 191 towards Petrified Forest NP, and then back to Phoenix. Enough stuff along that route would make me more inclined to go that way.

Chris,

Mount Graham is most definitely off limits. But you might look at W7A/AE-010 Webb Peak as an alternative, it can be a good double with AE-011.

I’ll take a look at my list and see if I can come up with any other ideas. Might be fun to meet up while you are in this area!

73,
Keith KR7RK

Webb Peak is a perfect example of the kind of thing I am looking for. I’ve put it on my map. Thanks! I just read your trip report about it.

Do you think I will have any problems with road closures at the end of October and into the beginning of November? On the one hand, this is much further south than the other trips I’ve taken out west, all of which are at their end of season by the end of September. On the other hand, it’s all still pretty high up.

Chris, As Keith points out, Webb and Heliograph are a good pair. There is a campground at the trailhead (and road, for road walk) at the base of Heliograph. (and more nearby, if that is full.
Very near the trailhead for Webb, is a visitor’s center, with an old-time very helpful volunteer.
Chiricahua is a long drive, but a nice hike, with not too much elevation gain, and also a campground near the short, (high clearance required) road that goes to the trailhead. Suggest you stay at he camp and get an early start for Chiricahua, because afternoon weather can get extreme quickly. Carr is beautiful, but an honest hike. Miller is a righteous hike; (see my description.)
All Best, and welcome to Southern Arizona. Ken

Chris,

Here is a link to a PDF file called AZ SOTA Summit Difficulty Scores 2019-0726.pdf which you may find useful in planning your activations in Southeastern AZ. The file is a record of my SOTA activations to date and includes the following information (with some data omissions):

  • Activation date
  • Summit Reference
  • Summit Name
  • Geographic area (Tucson, Sierra Vista, etc.)
  • Terrain (drive-up, trail, road, bushwhack, etc.)
  • Summit Score
  • Hike Difficulty Score (my proprietary score on a scale of 0-10, 0 is the easiest, 10 is the hardest)
  • Hike Difficulty per Point (my proprietary score on a scale of 0-10, 0 is the easiest per point scored)
  • Hike Distance (miles)
  • Ascent Time (my personal time)
  • Total Ascent (gross feet)
  • Measured Elevation - Low (ft)
  • Measured Elevation - High (ft)
  • Starting Latitude & Longitude (My starting GPS coordinates)

I hope that you (and others) will find this information useful. The link to this file will expire on 25-JUL-2020.

Have fun!

Paul K9PM

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Paul -

This is fantastic information. I am slowly going through it and comparing my proposed route to anything you’ve marked as a drive up or short hike. It’s definitely going to take me a couple more days to get through it all. Having the geographic area in particular is a big help. I’ve already added several things I didn’t already know about. I might have to do something like this for my own activations.

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It’s been a while, but I’ve finally bought airplane tickets for this trip. I’ll be flying into Phoenix on October 26 and flying back on November 2. I’ll be renting a car and keeping it cheap by staying at national forest and state park campgrounds as much as possible. For SOTA, I’ll going to keep it simple with 2m FM and my arrow antenna for locals, and 20/30/40m CW with my MTR3b. I expect to stay on each summit for about an hour.

My extremely rough schedule is as follows. I should be able to spot myself either via cell phone or APRS. I’m hoping to be able to do alerts about a day in advance. This is all very much subject to change.

  • October 27 - Mount Union (W7A/AW-006); Hutch Mountain (W7A/AE-028 ); Buck Mountain (W7A/AE-044)
  • October 28 - Myrtle Point (W7A/CS-020); Porter Mountain (W7A/AE-043)
  • October 29 - Greens Peak (W7A/AE-009); Noble Mountain (W7A/AP-007); South Mountain (W7A/AP-010); Greenlee County HP (W7A/GR-001); Rose Peak (W7A/AE-025)

Things start to get a little fuzzy after that and I don’t want to make definite plans until I know what the weather’s going to be and how I’m feeling. In general, I will either be heading towards Chiricahua (W7A/AE-012) or turning around and heading towards Humphreys. Weather, snow, or acclimatization would all be reasons I’d decide to not do Humphreys. I’ll leave the option open, but be smart about it.

So I don’t really know which days these will fall on, but I expect to hit some or all of the following. I will definitely hit Lemmon, at least:

  • Webb (W7A/AE-010); Heliograph (W7A/AE-011)
  • Lemmon (W7A/AW-001); Bigelow (W7A/AW-003); maybe Green (W7A/PE-002)
  • Pinal (W7A/AW-009); Carol Spring (W7A/AW-031)

If anyone wants to plan some S2S activities with me, or come along to hike on some of these, or anything else just let me know. I should be able to make mountain goat somewhere around Porter or Greens Peak, depending on what else I do at home in the next couple weeks. I’m really looking forward to this trip.

4 Likes

Paul,
What a great resource, thanks for sharing the PDF.

Bud KI7OFL

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Glad to hear you are going to Arizona Chris! I activated several summits in Arizona last January and February. The WX is sure warmer and drier than in New Hampshire. The Arizona SOTA operators are great and offer lots of help assisting with summit information. Hope you have a great time and I’ll be looking for your alerts and spots from home QTH and on summits in NH! Bob AC1Z

I put in my first day’s worth of alerts. Hopefully I got the times right. I’ll be doing CW and FM only - still need to keep my pack weight down due to my dumb back so I am limited in what I can carry. I am planning on spending about an hour on each summit. I’ll step through 20m and 30m, or 20m and 40m depending on which dipole I set up. Hopefully I can catch you from a couple summits.

A follow up about the mountains I ended up activating… I finished with ten activations, all ten pointers. I had 89 contacts, all but seven of which were CW. I had one FM-only activation. Along the way, I broke one of the links on my 17/20/30 dipole taking 30 meters out of use, and then I broke one of the metal contacts on my Te Ne Key on the very last day, meaning my last activation was all by HT.

  • Mount Union (W7A/AW-006) - Long drive down some reasonable dirt roads, then an easy and short hike up to the fire tower. No one was manning it. I got a bunch of 20m contacts, including with ZL2IFB who gave me a 419 from about 10k km away. That was an exciting start.
  • Hutch Mountain (W7A/AE-028) - Shorter drive down a much crappier dirt road, then a very short hike. I probably shouldn’t have driven up here. I got three 30m contacts in the span of about an hour, and then N7CW came through on 2m to save it. Thanks!
  • Buck Mountain (W7A/AE-044) - Skipped due to time. It takes forever to drive anywhere.
  • Myrtle Point (W7A/CS-020) - Long drive down a lot of dirt roads, including a kind of crummy one right at the end, but I drove to the very summit. Lots of 20m and 30m contacts in a short amount of time. Great views.
  • Porter Mountain (W7A/AE-043) - Short drive, and a short hike up the road to a summit covered in towers. Again, just made four contacts on 30m and 40m over the span of an hour.
  • Greens Peak (W7A/AE-009) - It was very cold and windy, but I was going right by it so I drove the intentionally very bumpy road all the way to the top just in case. The wind was strong enough to shake the car, so I skipped activating.
  • Noble Mountain (W7A/AP-007) - I should have skipped Greens Peak and tried for this one. Instead, I had to skip one of Noble or South. I skipped Noble.
  • South Mountain (W7A/AP-010) - I took a chance that the road was in better condition than reports indicated. It ended up being quite easy and I drove almost all the way to the top. It was still really windy but I could hide from it. I got a bunch more 20m contacts. Here was where I discovered the broken dipole.
  • Greenlee County HP (W7A/GR-001) - Hiking county high points is another hobby of mine, so I had to do this peak. It was a short hike along an old forest road and then a bushwhack. Not especially notable. I managed a nice pile of contacts.
  • Rose Peak (W7A/AE-025) - US-191 is one of the twistiest roads I’ve been on, and it just ate up the time. I skipped this peak too.
  • Webb (W7A/AE-010) - An easy hike up a forest road through a burned section of forest. I really loaded up on 20m contacts and achieved mountain goat. I would have stayed longer and worked more people, but the cell signal was really spotty and I wanted lunch.
  • Heliograph (W7A/AE-011) - A slightly less easy hike up a forest road through another burned section of forest. The summit had a lot more stuff on it than Webb, but it also had a much better view. Lots of 20m contacts up here.
  • Lemmon (W7A/AW-001) - The very summit is fenced off, but you can get quite close to it if you sneak around just outside the fence. There is a paved road almost to the top. If I’d set up in the parking lot, I would have had a much easier time. I set up in the woods closer to the summit where my phone signal was in and out. AC1Z spotted me, and I made five contacts before I broke my key. I would have preferred to stay much longer.
  • Bigelow (W7A/AW-003) - Without CW or SSB (didn’t bring that radio), I figured I’d never be able to activate this tower-covered summit with my HT. I drove up anyway just in case. It was right on my way. Surprisingly, I was able to make six contacts. I then decided I’d had enough and didn’t need to activate anything else.

It ended up being lots of fun, and I am surprised at how many peaks I was able to activate. Even more surprising was the number of peaks I left out. Maybe next time.