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(Attempt) Summiting Mt Tipton 19May18

7151′ elevation – clean prominence: 3628′ – isolation: 33.8 mi

GPS log available at peakbagger link above.

A beautiful, isolated peak in the Cerbat range, which trends NW/SE with Kingman at the SE end. For many, the drive up US 93 appears to be mostly ochre and rust desert, with little pockets of hardscrabble humanity along the way. One would never think that there’s pines and cool temperatures so near, and as I found out, too far.

Left Scottsdale around 0500, already feeling like I didn’t get a great night’s sleep. The drive out to Kingman (where I refueled the truck) was uneventful and quiet. Passing along the Big Sandy river valley I was eyeing the Aquarius mountains making up the eastern boundary and imagining that one of these days I’d do the hidden Mohon peak, another one on my list.

Turned off US 93 at MP42 onto Pierce Ferry Rd, then another few miles to 5th St, then east on the dirt for about 5-1/2 miles. Road is in fairly good shape, only a few rough spots along the way. Stopped briefly at the trailhead/register, signed in, then continued the drive up the final few tenths of a mile of pretty bad road. Parked at the ultimate trailhead, immediately in front of the wilderness gate. It’s about 1015.

On the other side of the fence, the jeep trail continues for some distance, and makes for a easy approach up the pediment to the mountains.

At the entrance to the wilderness, with old jeep trail on left and Mt Tipton on the right.

The ex-jeep trail within the wilderness, smooth sailing for the first 0.7 miles or so.

From a high point, looking back down the road with my white truck only a dot parked at the trailhead.

From same high point, looking along ex-jeep trail continuing east and up. The wash which the route will take is to the right of the road, seen dotted with some green.

At a point the road nears a wash that drains the northwestern slopes of Mt Tipton. There’s no trail, but the wash bed is mostly pretty tolerable with a minimum of difficult shrubberies.

Around 4000′ conifers start to dot the shoulders of the wash.

Conifers all around, with cactus in bloom along the wash bottom.

A few beginnings of cumulus cloud occasionally cool the air. Legs are getting pretty wobbly. Tipton is visible through the trees. However, I’m not feeling confident that I can make the peak.

At about ~5300′, the wash that I’ve been following since the road more or less ends at the saddle between Tipton and the lower ridge visible in the middle ground. Actually, I’m not sure of that, it may be that the continuation of that wash heads east up the steeper slope ahead. If that’s the case, there’s some potential of incipient stream capture here.

Well, now I’ve done it. While staggering along a small rock face, I slip and fall butt-first into a ground-hugging cactus. I think some sort of hedgehog, I get a bunch of spines stuck in me just below the rear-right waist line. Not so much painful as it is annoying. Like getting a shot – a bunch of them.

Slowly I get out all the needles, and clear the clothes of any stragglers. I call it a day, as I’m only 2/3 of the way to the peak horizontally and still have 1500 vertical feet to go. And from what I’ve read by Raether, Walker, and others, the going got tougher from here.

The way back I stay in the wash all the way to an apparently abandoned spring site (no visible water, but there is some piping and plastic tube). Then some cross-country over pretty smooth terrain, punctuated with occasional chollas. Am so happy that I parked at the upper trailhead. A few tenths of a mile eliminated.

I will return, but next time I’ll come up the night before, acclimate, and get an earlier start.

Summiting Woodchute Mountain 28APR18

7840-7880′ elevation – clean prominence: 2900′ – isolation: 25.7 mi

GPS log available at peakbagger link above.

Woodchute (I keep thinking woodchuck, as in “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood”) is more of a hummock than a peak; it’s forested with pine and there’s no obvious summit. And when you’re there, it’s hard to tell. As I was wandering around the overgrown forest, GPS in hand, looking for a high reading, I found a very mature tree which had apparently been struck by lightning at one time. This made me think I was at the summit, and subsequently I did find a cairn with glass-jar-enclosed peak register.

The trailhead is an easy access dirt road off the end of the paved forest road that leads northwest from SR-89A at its saddle atop the Black Hills.  Less than 0.3 miles in, there’s a left turn and a paved leading to dirt road to the “Woodchute Trailhead”, complete with toilet. But wait! There’s more! If the gate is open, continue on the dirt road that heads kind of northwest from the so-called trailhead. At least when I drove it, it was nearly a freeway in fine condition for any kind of vehicle. About a 3 minute drive later, there’s another trailhead for Woodchute. Park here to start your adventure.

After the trail register stop (in the rectangle just left of center), pass through the step-over latched-shut gate (the rectangle to the far left of center; latch it closed after you pass). 

The trail is well used and obvious in this portion.

Views of Mingus Mountain (shy of Woodchute by only one contour line), SR-89A headed down to Jerome, and the orange cliffs of Sedona in the distance.

The trail is more or less a ridgewalk for the first mile or two, with an opportunity to get to peak 7396 via a short trail diverging to the east.

After passing the Woodchute Wilderness sign (sun on the wrong side, couldn’t get a good picture), a little ways further there’s this sign. Continue following the TR-102 route up to the right and east of the fenceline. The steepest pitch is about there, from the 7400 to the 7600 contour.

Once above the 7600 contour, it’s time to leave the trail to find the summit. McEntee went up the “ridgeline”, while McClellan took a slightly more flat route. I ended up in between those two.

An interesting thing I found – what looks like a small aircraft plexiglass windshield. Maybe 3/16″ thick, smooth on all edges (no breaks or cracks). No aircraft, however.

Finally, I find the rock cairn and peak register.

Meandering east, downslope, I regain the TR-102 trail and begin the return to the truck.

Along the way I grab a shot of the volcanic peaks from Bill Williams on the west to Elden on the east.

After signing out at the trail register, I head down to Chino Valley to Insurgent Brewing to try their beers!

While cellular coverage can be hit-and-miss on the trail, the repeaters on Mingus Mountain are full-scale whether on 2 m or 440. As well, Elden, Bill Williams, and Mt Union all provide fine coverage.


Summiting Sierra Estrella (Hayes) High Point 18FEB18

4514′ elevation – clean prominence: 3212′ – isolation: 47.4 mi

GPS log available at peakbagger.

Wireless communications site

View of peak from trailhead, high point / radio site not in view.

Looking east toward rising sun. Evil cholla forest.

Woolsey Peak in left center distance.

What passes for a trail here. (Wait! There is no trail!!!)

More of the fine trail.

There were cairns along the way every so often, but all they really did for me is let me know some other human had been here.

Looking back towards trailhead and vehicle. Still there!

It was somewhere around here that I stepped on a boulder that proceeded to roll, then I fell smack on my head. No blood, no lightheadedness, no visual effects, but most stuff in pockets all fell out on ground while I was momentarily upside-down.

The boulder-hopping was getting rough on the ankles.

Still more boulders. Really impressive the ability of water to move stuff.

Looking back toward trailhead, which is hidden behind stuff on the left.

Higher and higher I go. Coefficient of steepness approaching angle of repose in some spots…

Now it gets heinous. That wash below was the path I took to get here. The vertical may not look like much from here, but I’m scaling rock walls with some horizontal jointing and serious cacti and ocotillo to dodge.

I know how this bighorn sheep felt… Man, that was a tough climb to the ridgeline.

And finally, Sierra Estrella High Point comes into view. But, it’s still about 0.5 miles away, and continued boulder hopping required.

Now the last pitch. Another 300′ vertical. There is kind of a trail here, but it’s not much.

Looking across the canyon to what looks like a large mine adit on the opposite ridge.

Looking back in general direction of trailhead.

This is what the final ridge climb looks like, more or less.

Final pitch, getting closer!

Alrighty! About 7500 W of solar power just in this set of panels here.

Microwave link to the NW.

Top of the mountain at the facilities.

Not the real benchmark, I didn’t find it.

More radio links.

Radio towers.

Note the amount of wind power generation. However, none was spinning on this day. Guess not enough breeze.

Toward South Mountain.

More solar and wind power generation.

Imagine this is the way they get the big gear in and out of the building.

When all else fails, there’s propane!

Clean looking site, huh? Wonder how often the critters chew through stuff?

Three big bottles and one long tank of propane.

What I think is a helipad / drop point of sorts.

Another not-the-real-thing benchmark.

Looking back, about 45-60 minutes down from the peak.

Sierra Estrella near sunset, looking east.

Summiting Harquahala Peak on foot 31MAR18 – Wireless communications site and historical buildings

5684′ elevation – clean prominence: 4361′ – isolation: 42.9 mi

GPS log available at peakbagger.

Time-lapse dashcam video of drive from pavement to trailhead.

Wireless communications site and historical buildings.

View from the Salome Rd with Harquahala the tallest peak on the ridge. For 5 years, from 1920 to 1925, the top of the mountain was home to a Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory facility.

Developed trailhead, with toilet, about 2 miles south of US60. There is a closed but unlocked gate for entry from the highway. Please make sure to close it behind you.

Easy drive in, even a sedan could make it as long as the driver takes it slow and easy, and doesn’t mind a few bits of desert pinstripe.

Harquahala from the north side.

Remains of historical facilities along the trail.

Gorgeous exposures of what appears to be some sort of metamorphosed granitic rock? Largest porphyroblasts are maybe 1 to 2 cm in longest dimension.

At the saddle, looking about NW.

At the saddle, looking about SSW.

At the saddle, looking about SW.

At the saddle, about WNW.

At the saddle, about SE.

Benchmark at the very top.

Benchmark again.

Looking down toward dirt/gravel road that comes up the mountain from the SE side, though the view is about SSW.

Simple radio site closest to the benchmark. Not sure what frequency band it is or to what entity it belongs.

Big solar powered radio facility belonging to Central Arizona Project.

Some sort of historic structure to the south.

The site is mostly used as a microwave hop point, but there’s obviously a number of two-way radio and telemetry stations atop the mountain.

Nice place for a picnic. Note the rock fireplace complete with grill for cooking some steaks.

Next few are Flood Control District of Maricopa County. The data is on-line here.

Helipad complete with four ground-embedded red beacons.

SW along ridge from benchmark.

NNW from benchmark.

NNE from benchmark along the ridgeline.

While true in general, a bit bogus here as no one was using heliographs for the Central Arizona Project in 1970…

Looking NW toward the main radio site, with the historic building in the foreground.

Orion, Ursa Major, and Scorpius

Tonight, while walking home, I decided that these were probably the 3 most apparent traditional constellations that people could see.

I mean, Orion stands out. I’m not just because some movie production house took advantage of the obviousness. It really is an impressive constellation. Well I don’t know for sure, I am sure that in most civilizations people would have taken the bright stars in Orion and turned it into something that meant something to them.

Ursa Major, is another impressive constellation. Seven brighter stars, all fairly close in angle, and it really does look like some kind of weird handled ladle.

Scorpius looks wicked. I mean, you probably need to know what a scorpion looks like to appreciate scorpions, but the constellation really does have a great resemblance to a scorpion. Shaula, The stinger, it’s perfectly placed. Antares, the heart of the scorpion. Do scorpions have hearts?

Living here in Arizona, and even in California before that, there were plenty of scorpions around. So Scorpius really does remind me of its namesake.

LNA unhappy with 10 uH Coilcraft 0805 chip inductor

Today I finally synced up with my friend Doug and collected from him quantity five Coilcraft 0805 10 uH chip inductors. Tiny things. Had little caffeine today, so by the time I’d returned home I was pretty steady.

Brought the LNA down from roof, opened lid, clamped assembly down to bench so it wouldn’t move, put a drop of 60/40 on one inductor pad, and with my TU-10b tweezer I picked up the part and set it in place, then tapped the one end with the soldering iron. It was harder than I thought; the part weighs nothing and has no surface friction with the tiny bead of molten solder, so it instantly moved on me.

After some re-approaching of the problem, I got the part securely attached. Checked continuity, everything looked good! Lid back on. Connected it to network analyzer, and everything did NOT look good. 20+ dB gain above about 200 MHz. The whole 10-200 MHz output level was badly attenuated, and there were strange artifacts in the low end of the spectrum. Removed the inductor and everything returned to normal. Posted a note to the designer over on and am awaiting a response. 10 uH at 100 MHz is 6k  ohms impedance, so it should be fine. The LNA was drawing its typical current (~ 160 mA).

Took another identical  inductor and pressed it down on the pads with a plastic tuning stick, and did exactly the same thing as soon as it made contact. There’s something about that output circuit that doesn’t like the chip inductor.



Adding a ground plane to attach the LNA

Found some 30-year-old double sided copper perf board, cut a small piece to support the LNA in the box. Will solder the LNA to the perf board to mechanically support it and to provide a rock-solid electrical ground plane. Not sure it’s necessary but it looks better!

Pilot holes for connectors drilled. Maybe this time I’m closer…

A *while* later… had to notch out the circuitboard a little bit to allow me to get it in with the connectors already in place. Does appear solid and substantial.

Next, how trim down the LNA board to fit. See you soon!