Getting to the top of Mount Suappoa wasn’t too bad, since it’s mostly a matter of following a paved road. For the same two activator points, Goat Hill was much more of a climb. As mentioned, both peaks are in South Mountain Park to the South of Phoenix. In fact, in the picture at right, you can see antennas on Suappoa.
The aptly named Summit Road winds through the park and cuts across Ranger Trail which leads up to Goat Hill. It looks like Ranger Trail is used by both hikers and those on horses, and that some begin lower down on the trail.
There’s no problem starting off at the level of Summit Road — there is plenty of ascent from that point for my taste — but I do need to raise a particular point about parking. There are bare areas just a bit larger than cars to each side of the road, and these areas appear to be either pull-offs or single parking spots. Some of the spots are bordered with rocks, which make it difficult to pull into the bare spot. The day I visited Goat Hill, I pulled into one of the spots on the side of the road where the trail cuts across the road to continue up the hill.
On my way back down the hill, as I was winding down the path back to the car a park ranger pickup truck came by with lights flashing and stopped next to my car. As you can imagine, this caused some concern, so I picked up my pace down the mountain as he walked around my car. My first thought was that he was concerned that the car had been abandoned or that it was getting late in the day and he was wondering if he had a missing person on his hands, who had wandered up a trail and not come back.
When I got within earshot, he told me that the spot was not legal, and pointed out that the rules posted at the entrance to the park were explicit on this point – no parking except in designated parking areas, and as mentioned in the post about Mount Suappoa, no hiking off trail. I had adhered to the latter point, but I really hadn’t seen the rule about parking. I thought the cutouts were a convenient feature of the park since they appeared near trails, but he pointed out that it’s the other way around — these areas are worn down from people doing the wrong thing. Once one of these starts to look like a pullover, more and more do the same.
The law against parking on these spots is meant to protect the environment: repeated compaction of the soil on these spots pushes the plant border further and further back and may also lead to erosion. Consequently, the thing to do is to park in the actual paved scenic overlook parking lot a few hundred meters up the road from where Ranger Trail crosses Summit Road (GPS: 33.3325496,-112.0819168). I said I’d do what I could to flag this issue in this post so that others coming to activate the peak wouldn’t make the same mistake.
The matter of parking aside, it was a nice walk. The trail has a lot of switchbacks so it doesn’t get too steep. I passed two wooden posts on the way up; here’s a picture of the one near the top. At the top post, the trial diverges. I had marked the summit and followed GPS to the top; there are other extensions to the trail that wrap around rather than ascend the summit, so don’t take those.
The view from the top is great. Phoenix is off in the distance to one side of the ridge line, while smaller communities can be seen in the distance to the other side. The peak is bounded by other mountains on several sides as well.
Again, I had to go with a low-slung antenna, which gave me an unexpectedly good SWR despite being just above the ground. I assume that some of the magic occurs in the end-fedz antenna matching box and that low SWR here does not necessarily mean a very efficient antenna. I can only imagine the radiation pattern at that height.
My contacts included OR, UT, CO, and CA (a mobile) on 20 and 40 meters. I also had a good response on 2m, with three contacts using the HT antenna. In chatting with the FM folks, I learned that a good number of people in the area monitor 146.520 and that simplex is much more common here than out East. They suggested that if I waited until around 5 pm, I’d pick up even more 2m contacts with the start of rush hour and people coming home for the evening, but I was more concerned about getting down the trail in daylight — I needed to get down the east side of the hill, which would be in shadow substantially before sunset.
Aside from all the radio, I did stop to smell the cactus, as it were. Not being from the region, all of the plants were new to me. Here’s a look the side of the ridge towards the south.
Here’s the QR code from that mile marker:
And finally, please enjoy some desert flora. I have no idea what is what, but if anyone recognizes these plants, please comment. Meanwhile, I have invented my own names for them: