In the end we had no problems with airport security (both at Heathrow and Dallas) on our trip out considering how much electronics we were carrying: laptop and charger, FT-817, amplifier, Li-Pos (with psu and charger), antennas, PDA/GPSr, GPSr (with 8 spare rechargeable AA batteries and charger), mobile phone and smart phone (all with chargers) and assorted leads and connectors.
After the long trip, picking up a hire car, finding our accommodation and food we had an early night ready for the early start the next day.
We arranged to meet up with Fred (KT5X) at 9am local time at his home in Santa Fe which we found partly with Tom-Tom and finally by finding the house attached to a tower :o)
We quickly hit it off chatting about SOTA, travelling and hill walking or in Fred’s case running!
The short drive to “the hill with no name” or W5/PW-020 took us through part of the old town along narrow roads flanked by the red coloured Adobe styled homes, which have not changed much for hundreds of years.
The road that took us to the start of the trail climbed steadily through the very pretty tree covered hills. The parking spot for our walk is at approximately 2550m (8400 ft) ASL, to put that in perspective Ben Nevis (the highest point in the UK) is 1344m (4409 ft) and where we are staying in Albuquerque is around 1630m (1350 ft).
The trail to the summit is on a well defined track through the trees and climbs steeply to the summit which is at 2871m (9420 ft) ASL. After all the travelling the day before and with only a small time to acclimatise I did find I could feel I was at altitude but never the less still we still made very good time.
Fred had gone ahead of us once he knew we would be OK as he very much prefers to run up the hills!! :o) and was set up and ready to go when we reached his location at the top. The summit has a couple of picnic tables so we chose the one at the highest point: luxury. The weather was cold (0 deg C) but there was no wind and the bright sunshine meant for a warm activation.
Fred’s ultra light-weight system is optimised for 20m so Helen and I set-up for 15m. A listen across the bands showed little activity (well compared to Europe that is) so a self-spot was in order.
After a number of calls the first in my log was EB2CZF followed by WB9WHQ, WB0FDJ then Guy (N7UN) providing me with my qualifying contact. Helen then took over to qualify with 6 contacts including Don (G0RQL) while I took a few photos and wandered off to chat to Fred.
I finished off the activation with an additional 12 contacts; again one was Don. So we successfully activated our first US summit. We were pleasantly surprised by a UK contact given the time of day.
The rest of the day was taken up by having a guided tour of the old town of Santa Fe, lunch at one of the oldest restaurants, Tia Sophia’s, and then a look at Fred’s beautiful wood carved furniture back at his home (Adobe style of cause which he built himself) while we waited for his wife, Debby, to finish work. The day was finished with an early evening meal before we had to say our goodbyes; we both thank Fred and Debby for their lovely company in the evening and Fred for being a brilliant guide and host.
Next hill is Sandia Crest tomorrow……… if the 817 can cope and the snow and wind hold off. Watch for frequency spots to see if it is ok.
UPDATE: High winds and snow fall forcast for overnight and tomorrow :o(