FOBB 2016 South Sandia Peak by NW8L

Flight of the Bumblebees 2016 - Bob Cunnings NW8L BB #10

This year I returned to my favorite location, 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 for an antenna, with the terrain dropping off sharply to the east and west. It's a good 4 hour hike up the South Crest and CCC trails to get there but it's well worth the effort.

The antenna this year was a simple dipole cut for 20m made from Radio Shack speaker wire, terminated with a right angle BNC connnector. It can be extended for 30m and 40m operation but I never budged from 20m this year. 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 rather tired lithium disposable AA cells. Power out was only a little over 2 watts on 20m.

I started 30 minutes late but managed a total of 22 qso's - 14 BB and 8 home stations, all on 20 meters. I wasn't chased off by afternoon thunderstorms this year so I kept going until the very end. Conditions didn't seem great and most signals were very weak, fading in and out. The band seemed short at first but toward the end it went longer and I was able to work N1EU/BB in NY and N4KGL/BB in FL. States worked included CA, ID, TX, UT, NM, WA, IA, GA, WI, IL, NY, FL. Thanks to all for another great FOBB!


As always, I sure was glad to drop the pack when I got to the top. It was going to be a long day so I had a lot of water in there along with everything else.


This is the rig, my KX1, powered with the AA battery pack you see on the right.


The antenna, set up as an inverted vee, resonant on 20m. I brought only the lower 4 sections of a 32 ft. fiberglass windsock pole which was tied off to a scrub oak. The feedline runs off to the right. The antenna is tied to to a piece of deadwood jammed into the top of the pole.

Image:Antenna kit

The antenna can be extended for 30m and 40m by tying on additional lengths of wire with nylon rope and connecting them electrically with the automotive type blade connectors you see at the ends of the 20m elements in the picture. The extra lengths are in the bag but I didn't bother with them since I planned to operate single band.


Here's the shack, under a Noah's Tarp in a notch in the limestone.


Looking north toward the summit of South Sandia Peak.


Looking south, with the Manzano mountains in the distance.


Looking northwest, across the Rio Grande valley, with Cabezon, a volcanic plug, on the horizon. The ghost town of Cabezon is located near Cabezon, which is sacred to the Navajo.


Looking east, as I was coming down off the ridge after FOBB was over. A thunderstorm fired up over the San Pedro mountains but it fizzled out before long.

Image:Paul Revere's Ride Tree

For the Sandia Mountains "medallion tree" hunters out there, here are yet more examples I found along the South Crest trail on the way down. Rather than take the CCC Trail shortcut I followed the long and winding South Crest trail all the way down. You must follow the "old" trail section through the Ponderosa groves to see some of these medallion trees. All told, going down this way adds an hour to the hike but at least it's not as brutally steep as the more direct CCC Trail. Here is the Paul Revere's Ride tree...

Image:Paul Revere's Ride Medallion

and a closeup of the medallion. Germination date is 1774, but Paul Revere's famous ride took place in 1775. Close enough.

Image:1st Fountain Pen Tree

This is the 1st Fountain Pen Tree...

Image:1st Fountain Pen Medallion

and a closeup of the medallion with germination date of 1780, which I suppose was the year in which the fountain pen was invented. This tree is at a point where the trail makes a sharp turn and it was marked on two sides when the trail was blazed long ago.

Image:Joan of Arc Birth Tree

This is the Joan of Arc Birth Tree...

Image:Joan of Arc Birth Tree Medallion

and a closeup of the medallion with germination date of 1413, about when Joan of Arc was born. This is a very old tree!

I recently ran into another seeker of Medallion Trees on the Pino Trail in the Sandias. It's nice to see others who are interested in locating them and sharing info. There are upwards of a hundred of these trees in the Sandia Wilderness but they are rarely noticed and remain somewhat of a mystery.