My bosom buddy Eric Sevryn died suddenly last September and his sister Carol was holding a wake in his honor on Sunday in Tucson, Arizona. I say “bosom buddy” in that we grew up together from when we were babies. If my mom could have breast fed me, she would have fed both of us. He was either at my house or I was at his when we were growing up. Eric was my only real true friend growing up in Tucson. My family moved to our summer home when I was going to enter 7th grade and we stayed in loose contact. He was at my wedding and we had a grand time. We lost contact with each other but as I traveled more to Tucson to take care of my mom, Eric and I got together whenever we could. It was always great seeing him and exchanging stories. Eric was a kind soul to the core, loved animals and was always willing to help anyone. He was intelligent and witty. Although his politics didn’t match mine, he was still respectful of mine as I was of his views. I loved Eric and will miss his laugh.
Since I was in Tucson for the weekend, I decided to check off a mountain there and get some exercise. This hike takes me to the Mt. Lemons area, north of Tucson, AZ to a mountain called Green Mountain (W7A/PE-002 - Green Mountain). For this trip, I had a passenger, flat stanley, who needed to get out of the house and go on an adventure. (Click on pictures for larger)
I was staying with my aunt, and the drive to the IAF was pretty simple. The only wrinkle was that there was an annual marathon on the only road to planned area of operations. The Sheriff's office had one lane open for runners and one for cars traveling up and down. They would take traffic up and then down the mountain escorted by an officer at the front. I think I had to wait 10 to 15 minutes for the next caravan so it wasn’t a big deal.
Planning this trip was interesting. I didn’t see any trails that went up to the summit but the summit had been activated over 50 times. The best approach looked like the one from the south-west. I emailed a couple of operators that had recently summited this mountain asking for suggestions. AE9Q & KI7OFL shared their maps with me and one of them offered up his cell phone in case I had questions... I like these guys. Both concurred with my planned route up the south-west side. The one thing about this hobby, there are always a lot of other hams willing to help you out.
Once at the parking lot I loaded up and then realized that I had forgotten to download the map for my trip to my phone and there was no cell service for AT&T where I was. This was a bit unusual for me but I had a lot going on before I left and it slipped my mind. I had studied the route pretty well before I left and it wasn’t that complex. I figured once I got up high enough for cell reception on the mountain, I could download the map. If you look at my planned route HERE, and my recorded route HERE, you’ll see that I actually followed my plan pretty well going up. (WARNING: My up and back route may not be the best. It was hard both ways. The route up was over some steep rock and could be dangerous.) At the parking lot I used my Delorme Inreach now owned by Garmin, to send a text message to my aunt and wife that I was beginning the trip. The Inreach uses Iridium satellites to send the messages and enables two way SMS communication. The only downside is that it has been taking between 2 and 20 minutes to get a message out. Normally they go out within 10 minutes. My aunt and uncle were watching the Army vs. Air Force game on TV. Once in a while, my satellite device in my pack would ping with a new inbound message from my aunt with the score. Pretty cool. Since I was alone, I turned on tracking, which causes the device to ping my location to a website every 10 minutes.
I was warned that the trip up was steep, and it was. I knew from studying the map, how I needed to approach it. It was steep and I learned to be very careful with the placement of my trekking poles for help as I went up. There was a lot of travel over steep rock, some of it loose, so it took me a while in places. I pretty much followed my planned route but I’m not sure I can recommend it. (Read on to find out why. ) There were some nice vistas looking at the Tucson area and the route quickly fed into heavily wooded forest with thick pine needles on the forest floor. I got a cell signal when I was almost at the top and verified i was headed in the right direction (I was).
Once on the summit, I did a quick call on VHF using my HT for looking contacts and got a couple of people down in Tucson. I then setup Flat Stanley for a couple of shots so that my aunt could send them to her grand-kids. I should have held him up to the camera with Tucson in the background...
With the HF antenna and radio setup, I found myself a comfortable operating position and started calling out on 14.330 MhZ. I had initially setup on 14.337, but there was a ton of interference. I’m wondering if it was radar. Anyways, I didn’t have any cell reception so I used the Inreach to “spot myself”. I might have been able to use APRS on my HT as I think it was working but I get a kick out of using satellites for doing that. Once my spot was on the web, I had a small pileup working. I had a few contacts in British Columbia Canada, several others in the the US, and then a small surprise, New Zealand. I’ve talked to ZL1BYZ before, and I hear that he’s a big chaser. I always love getting a contact from him mainly because it’s such a long range contact. He must have a hec of a station because I had a really good signal from him and the fact that he could hear me with my little 100 watt station means he must have had some nice ears on a tower. This is my second contact with him.
I switched over to 40 meter on 7.260 MHz and talked to N6DNM. He called me back a while later and let me know that I was his 2000th point in mobile contacts. Even better, he mentioned that I was also his 1000th point. I guess I’m his lucky charm. This contact marks the 6th time we’ve talked. Lastly, I went over to 17 MHz and got a contact there just for the fun of it. The operator was in Canada, VE7MTW. The thing about ham radio is that we all need each other, kinda a yin/yang thing. I help other hams get points for chasing on summits on the air, parks on the air or contests (like last weekened), and they help me get points for “activating” summits or testing out new configurations. It’s a lot of fun.
I decided to take a little bit different route down the mountain so I went a little south of my planned course. On the up side, it was less rock (and no cliffs) but it was just as steep in the pine forrest. Because the pine needles were so thick, it was slippery, so the trekking poles were just as important on the descent. One problem I had was that the terrain kept pulling me further to the south of my intended course. I ended up below my car and had to climb back up a ravene to get to the road. All in all, mission accomplished. As I got closer to the car, my Inreach pinged letting me know I had another message. Pulling out my phone, I was informed that Army won! Given my uncle and I are both ex-army, that was a good thing :). To finish off this SOTA expedition, I went up to Summerhaven and had a sandwich and relaxed outside.
As part of my trip to Tucson, I was able to see my niece and grand nephew, Rowan. He’s a cute little guy and was more than willing to let me hold him. My last big stop was the wake for Eric. It was a very nice event arranged by his sister Carol. She wrote a wonderful eulogy and her partner read a small piece that he had done as well. I followed up by handing out little boxes of raisins to people there and then telling a story about the time when Eric and I were 4 years old. It was one of my earliest memories of our time together. His mom sent him to my house with a little box of raisins for each of us and when we ran out of raisins, we decided to just walk to his house to get some more. We were having a grand old time not caring that the trip would involve crossing some very busy streets in Tucson.... Meanwhile, my mom was having a major panic attack when she realized we were missing and had half the neighborhood out looking for us. Mom found us, actually going the right direction, and took us back home. I don’t remember mom scolding us but I do remember her being just a little stressed out.
Eric and I would continue our time together getting into trouble and playing jokes on our moms... like the time we put cigarette loads into my mom’s cigarettes. Just imagine two young lads hatching this scheme where one says to the other "yeah, and if one of these is funny, two at once are going to be hilarious". Let’s just say my mom wasn’t a happy camper when her cigarette exploded upon lightning it. We retold that story whenever we were together and laughed until we had tears streaming down our faces. How couldn’t you when you conjured up the face of my mom covered with tobacco and soot from the explosion. I’ll miss my buddy and his wonderful laugh.
● Yaesu FT-891D HF Radio at 100 watts
● 30’ of coax feed line
● 3 L of water (8 lb)
● SOTA Dog
● iPhone with All Trails, MotionX GPS and sota goat
● MFJ-939Y auto antenna tuner for 891
● Trekking poles
● Extra LiFePO Battery
● AnyTone AT-868UV DMR radio for testing.
● Delorme Inreach satellite tracker and communicator.
Aka chris claborne