FOBB 2009 South Sandia Peak by NW8L

Flight of the Bumblebees 2009 - Bob Cunnings NW8L

This year I returned to South Sandia Peak in the Sandia Wilderness Area, overlooking Albuquerque, NM. The location was atop the long north/south ridge a few hundred yards south of the summit, at approx. 9600 ft. elevation. This is a nice location, with the terrain dropping off sharply to the east and west, but requires a good 4 hour hike to reach. The antenna was a dipole with balanced feedline, supported by two 16 foot telescoping fiberglass poles. The "shack" was in a nice sheltered depression in the limestone just below the ridgeline to the west, with a tarp providing shade. I used my 20/30/40 KX1 with autotuner. It was powered from a pack of 8 AA cells.

I managed a total of 34 qso's - 23 BB and 11 home stations, all on 20 meters. Big signals heard included N7OU/BB, N6GA/BB and KF0UR/BB. Signals from eastern US were very weak, I only managed WV, PA, GA and IL. Heard N4BP(FL)and VE3OBU/BB repeatedly but couldn't work them. Thanks to all for another great FOBB, especially the home stations who answered my calls - it can't be easy!


This is the rig, my KX1 connected to the AA battery pack, running perhaps 3 watts out. I use a little self-powered speaker that plugs right in to the headphone jack.


The antenna a 64 foot long 40/30/20 dipole with jumpers between sections for band selection. Sloping down to the right is the feedline, made of 18 gauge speaker wire used as a balanced line and connected directly to the KX1. The idea this year was to try a horizontal dipole (not an inverted vee) running along the ridge line. It's only 12 feet high but the ground falls away so quickly on either side that I hoped it would result in some decent low angle radiation. The feedpoint is supported by one pole, and the right half of the dipole gets additional support using another pole. The other half of the dipole is tied off directly to a conveniently located tree about 16 feet tall out of view to the left.


Here's the radio room, under a Noah's Tarp in a sheltered cleft in the limestone. It got warm but steady breezes helped to make it pretty comfortable.


The view to the southwest from the ridge, looking over Kirtland AFB and the Rio Grande valley.


Looking along the ridge toward South Sandia Peak. It was pretty green up there this year.


To the east are the San Pedro "mountains". Although cloudy and hazy, the usual afternoon thunderstorms kindly held off until FOBB was over.


Taking the CCC trail back down, I snapped photos of some medallions that have been nailed to trees. This must have been a labor of love for someone, but I have never discovered just who. The medallions bear an approximate date of germination for the tree, and a historical reference of some sort. Here we have Grover Cleveland 22nd President, 1885.


You can see old blaze marks in the Grover Cleveland tree. The CCC trail was supposedly used by Civilian Conservation Corp work parties in the 1930s.


Leonardo da Vinci Birth 1452. Someone is maintaining these perhaps, this one is caulked with silicone.


The Leonardo da Vinci tree is a very gnarly old pinon pine, long dead. I suppose DD~1943 means 'death date' approx. 1943?


End Holy Roman Empire 1806 (date of dissolution of the Empire by Francis II). TB6, TB~1951? What's 'TB'?


The Holy Roman Empire tree is a small ponderosa pine. If the germination date is correct it's over 200 years old, but trees grow slowly here.

I'm told there are many more of these scattered around the trails of the Sandia Wilderness, I'll bet I've walked past some more than a few times without ever spotting them!

See you next year!