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My Arizona SOTA adventure would not be if it were not for the VERY gracious help from the locals and others who have activated before me. They sent more summits than I could possibly do in the short time I would be here. My route was the 10 Freeway from California to Tucson. I picked Lemmon W7A/AW-001 and Bigelow W7A/AW-003 as activation’s. These were drive up’s with a short walk and are frequently done together. Another delight about these was even though it is warm down in town Lemmon was about 42 degrees and Bigelow was 68 degrees.

From my hotel in Tucson I merely dropped in the summit coordinates 32.443000793457, -110.78829956055 into my smart phone which guided me to the closed gate at the parking lot for Lemmon. The final site is just a short walk. My faithful spelling checker here kept complaining about Lemmon. This spelling is correct for this site as it was named for botanist Sara Plummer Lemmon who trekked to the top of the mountain.

Bigelow was rather nice from here as the locals told me about the road to the top. You can hike up the trail from the parking area across from the ranger station. I suspected my smart phone would be a paper weight with no service so I came prepared to navigate to the entrance road for Bigelow (32.412957, -110.731276) with a traditional GPS. This road is about 6 miles from the Lemmon parking area. At the turn (32.416078, -110.731788) there is unique friendly sign saying if the road is closed for the winter you are welcome to walk up! The road was open and easy to travel in my SUV to the summit at 32.415500640, -110.71440124. My old 2005 Toyota 4Runner SUV has a high clearance. I would not recommend a traditional vehicle on this upper part of the road.

In my windshield I displayed my National Forrest Adventure Pass as they were checking them at Lemmon. No Forrest service was seen on Bigelow. There were just a few walkers.

Cell service on my T-Mobile was intermittent SMS texting, no data service, and no voice service.

APRS2SOTA was probably very good at these sites, however, I had an intermittent antenna connector problem that will have to be fixed back home. This radio has seen several years of tough service so this was very acceptable.

My DeLorme InReach Explorer on Iridium Satellites provided most SPOT’s for these activation’s. Additionally, there were several helpful Chasers who kept me on clearer frequencies and helped SPOT me.

Here was a bit of a surprise to me. Lemmon is at 2792m/9160ft. Bigelow Mount 2604m/8543ft. I really thought with these tall 10 pointers I would have more contacts. Propagation was hostile to the point that after each of these activation’s I was so concerned that I mounted my mobile HF antenna on my car and did some testing with the Yeasu FT857. I was worried that there was something wrong with the Elecraft KX3 I had carried up to the summit. Due to my limited schedule I only operated 2 meters, and ‘tried’ SSB on 40, 20, and 15 meters. You can see from my logs that some of these bands were just dead. Thankfully there was nothing wrong with my back pack radio or antenna.

Geocaches:  There are a few in the area that I used as way points. I really did not have the time to spend searching for them on this activation.

Some side notes that I rarely mention. I carry the “10 Essentials” with lots of water and snacks. In the event of a significant emergency I will use the “Ham Radio Wilderness Protocol on 146.52 FM”. I monitor that frequency when I have full batteries. On low battery I would follow the protocol. You can Google these things. I hope more Ham’s pass this information along.

Date: 13/May/2015 Summit: W7A/AW-001 Mount Lemmon Call Used: KB6CIO

Time Call Band Mode Notes
14:17z W7RV 144MHz FM 144.41 59/52 Flagstaff 110 miles
14:27z K6HPX 144MHz FM 146.52 59/55
14:30z K9LCT 144MHz FM 59/59 20 miles Fountain Hills AZ Tony
14:32z KG7IRJ 144MHz FM 59/59 Paul Broadway and Campbell
14:42z K6HPX 7MHz SSB 7.185 55/59 at home
14:44z AA7DK 7MHz SSB 44/56 Dennis Flagstaff
14:45z W7RV 7MHz SSB 44/33 Flagstaff
14:56z W4DOW 14MHz SSB 14.285 33/44 VI
14:57z W0MNA 14MHz SSB 44/33 Gary KS
14:58z W0ERI 14MHz SSB 44/33 Martha KS
14:59z N4MJ 14MHz SSB 44/33 TN
14:59z NS7P 14MHz SSB 55/56 Phil OR
15:00z KF7JQV 14MHz SSB 44/42 WA
15:01z W7CNL 14MHz SSB 55/57 Boise ID will invite KF7URE Lee to an event at his place
15:04z W4MPS 14MHz SSB 14.342 59/55 NC Marc
15:05z K4MF 14MHz SSB 59/56 FL
15:07z N7KRN 14MHz SSB 55/55 QSB
15:11z N4EX 14MHz SSB 59/34 QSB
15:14z NO8V 14MHz SSB 33/53 John MI. Good Operator!
15:15z KB1RJC 14MHz SSB 33/33
15:16z KB1RJD 14MHz SSB 33/33

=== === ===

Date: 13/May/2015 Summit: W7A/AW-003 Bigelow Mount Call Used: KB6CIO

Time Call Band Mode Notes
16:40z KG7TBQ 144MHz FM 146.52 59/59
16:44z KG7IRJ 144MHz FM 22/56
16:55z W7RV 144MHz FM 144.410 55/33
16:57z K7CQX 144MHz FM 146.52 22/52
17:09z N1IDN 144MHz FM S2S W7A/PE-018 He was about to go back down. Hiked up 1hr 40min. 55/59 Mike
17:30z W6JMP 7MHz SSB 14.285 Gene near Sacramento 55/55
17:35z EI9GLB 7MHz SSB Ireland 33/33
17:36z W7CNL 14MHz SSB 55/55
17:41z AE9F 14MHz SSB 44/44 San Francisco
17:44z N4MJ 14MHz SSB 33/34
17:45z N7KRN 14MHz SSB 59/59
17:50z WA9HED 14MHz SSB 59/56 Lee WI
17:57z N5WMS 14MHz SSB 33/–
18:01z KA5PVB 14MHz SSB 33/22
18:03z WA7BEF 14MHz SSB 59/53
18:11z N4EX 21MHz SSB 21.385 59/56 NC
18:15z AE4FZ 21MHz SSB 59/56 NC
18:17z AC1Z 21MHz SSB 59/55 NH
18:19z W7TAO 21MHz SSB 55/23


Parking area (pay fee here if you do not have a pass)

Parking area (pay fee here if you do not have a pass)

Pay fee in parking area.

Pay fee in parking area.

Gate is about 1/2 mile from summit.

Gate is about 1/2 mile from summit.

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A FRIENDLY sign at turning point. Parking is available. Not closed so I drove all the way up in a high clearance SUV. A regular car could make it to this point.


Almost there.


Now it is time to walk and set up.

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