Since I was only in Arizona for a short time on this trip, I didn’t attempt to acclimate to the local time zone, I just let me biological clock freewheel. The night before this outing, I had gone to bed at 6:30 in the evening, which seemed just fine to me. The flip side of this was then waking up around 3 am. Instead of forcing myself back to sleep, I just started my day. I got some work email out of the way and then began looking through peak information. I found two peaks that had been previously activated, seemed like reasonable climbs, and which were near each other, both in South Mountain Park.
Before the sun was up, I headed over to the park, the morning still cool. I knew from previous posts that I was looking for an area heavily covered with commercial broadcast antennas, shown above. A road runs through the park right up past this peak. There is a fence surrounding the property, all of which is marked as private. There are a few drive ways that lead into the antenna farm, but they are gated and no doubt monitored.
Some previous activators have mentioned skirting along the perimeter of the fence, and while this is technically possible, it is not legal, as that would mean walking off path on protected land, which according to a park ranger, is typically rewarded with a visit before the judge. I worked as close to the peak as I could without violating that rule, and still within the 80 foot elevation boundary stipulated by the Arizona SOTA association. I drove my car up to the lookout area, which has a large parking lot and seems to be a terminus for mountain bikers. To meet the requirement of ascending under my own steam, I then hiked down and then back up to the requisite elevation.
As usual, my antenna was the end-fedz 10/20/40, strung about a meter up along Home Depot fiberglass parking markers that I had purchased on the way over. This worked better than I had expected, with 27 contacts on 20 meters. I threw out some calls on 10 meters as well and was surprised by answers from four stations (two Florida, one North Carolina and one Illinois). With my low antenna, I expected to work 40m NVIS, but I had no contacts on 40m. As I was packing up, I popped a 2m antenna on the FT817 and gave a shout on 146.520, which was answered by N0OQ in Apache Junction about 50 km away. The FM simplex contact was brief and antenna orientation seemed finicky.
Despite the elevation, I found that the peak had poor cell phone reception, at least for T-mobile service. From the operating position I was not able to get a good cell signal, particularly for digital service.