Posted by Perrin Derrick On June 25, 2021
My first Crack At Field Day
After a hurricane his south Texas in 2017, a lot of folks broke out their books and studied up to be an armature radio operator. I was one of those folks. After acquiring a few pieces of gear and mounting an antenna on the house I was all set. Time went on, we moved away from Corpus Christi, but I still kept tinkering with my ham gear. Field Day (ARRL Field Day) has been on the ham radio to-do list for a while and since I’m working at the Communication Center at a hospital I figured it would be a good year to start.
Posted by Perrin Derrick On April 21, 2020
2020 April Meteor Shower
Posted by Perrin Derrick On April 14, 2020
Posted by Perrin Derrick On March 20, 2019
Who can use a ham radio?
The simple answer is licensed amateur radio operators.
A few years back I rode in the AZT300. It is a self-supported bike race in southern remote bits of Arizona. After 8 days on the Arizona Trail, I came home with questions about emergency communications. What would happen if my spot GPS and I became separated? At the time I was not an amateur radio operator and sat there wondering what all the antennas in the distance were for.
Some were for radio and tv, but some are for the department of transportation, amateur radio, and GMRS repeaters.
How could people on the trail use these in an emergency situation?
Can you reach them with a HAM radio? Who can use a ham radio?
The real answer to the question, “Who can use a ham radio?” comes from the FCC test bank for the technician level ham radio license.
FCC Question T2C09 – 12. Are amateur station control operators ever permitted to operate outside the frequency privileges of their license class?
- A. Yes, but only when part of a RACES emergency plan
- B. Yes, but only if necessary in situations involving the immediate safety of human life or protection of property
- C. Yes, but only when part of a FEMA emergency plan
- D. No
So if you are studying for your technician license you do not have a license at all. So this question is for everyone. The answer is “B”.
The key to the answer is that if all other communications have been tried then you ‘yes you, as in anyone without a license’ can use a radio to make emergence communication calls. Any radio, any frequency,
§ 97.403 Safety of life and protection of property. No provision of these rules prevents the use by an amateur station of any means of radiocommunication at its disposal to provide essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available.
How does this help on the trail?
A good cheep radio like the BTECH UV-5X3 has 128 programmable channels that can be setup for everything from ham radio repeaters to Motorola Blister-pack family radio channels to a mix of other municipal frequencies.
Family – FRS & General Mobile Radio Service GMRS Bands
Just like the ham radio bands there are repeaters for the blister-pack radios. You can Google search you area for local GMRS repeater networks. Here is a video showing how to program these bands into your hand held radio.
Do Your Homework – Read and find out what might save your ass on the trail.
So the main concept here is getting your hands on a radio and prepare by learning how it works and how you program it. I use chirp to program my handheld 2-way walkie talkies. The frequencies you put into the radio will be important. You can also program channels for scanning only. If you want to listen to the national weather service, you can do that.
Radio Frequencies I would use for
the Arizona Trail.
The NOAA weather radio channels for the area
Santa Cruz County 155.71500 – County Emergency Services – EMS Dispatch 155.02500 – SCRUZ-ROADS – Public Works 155.23500 – Santa Cruz Valley USD – Schools
154.40000 – Fire Department – F1 – Dispatch 154.43000 – Suburban Nogales FD F2 – DispatchPatagonia
154.41500 – Fire Department – DispatchSonoita Pima County
155.22000 Sheriff- Search & Rescue volunteers 154.17500 – Fire Department – DispatchMt Lemmon
146.96000 – K7UAZ Ham Repeater 224.06000 – KA7LFX Ham Repeater 151.04750 – Air Evac Medical Helicopters 155.32500 – Air Eval Tuscon All FRS and GMRS including the popular repeater pairs. Any Municipal fire or EMS that operates on FM.
This is a short list of the frequencies you should be looking for. The little handheld radios are not that powerful. The best way to operate at long range is to have a clear line of site. Make sure nothing is between you and the receiver you are trying to hit.
There are ways to upgrade the radio by installing a better antenna, or a larger battery pack. As a bikepacker, or hiker you will have to weigh in on what is important to you.
I hope this helps stir up some ideas and other ways to stay safe on your next outdoor adventure.
Posted by Perrin Derrick On December 16, 2018
Perrin Family Christmas Fun from 2015.
Hope you are all having a great time preparing for Christmas.
Posted by Perrin Derrick On June 19, 2018
I would like to start off this travel log with an apology to the people in hike-in site 1. Don’t know who you are, but I know we caused more havoc after 9:45 than you deserved. The little folding camp chairs sitting next to your fire ring were a cute reminder that your crew would be paying us back around 6:30 am.
And so we ran back to the parking lot twice trying to be as quiet as possible.
We set camp and were down by 11:30. Must have been 2 am when we had our first visitor, a raccoon. They would come to visit each morning between 1 and 2. They do throw a bit of a fit when you tie down the trashcan lid.
Day 2 at Dinosaur Valley State Park
I needed to go to the car and grab a few things to get breakfast going but wasn’t willing to do the walk of shame past campsite 1. So we waited till they packed up before we showed our face. We ate a big camp scramble using out turkey fryer and big castiron skillet.
Recent rain had brought the river level up a bit and provided the day’s entertainment.
We could not keep people from walking through our camp. This was really annoying. By day 3 we blocked off the makeshift trail from the river to our site. That night I had to be in Stephenville, Texas to shoot video for work.
Day 3 at Dinosaur Valley State Park
After a big breakfast, we packed up and hiked while it was cool. The first half of the hike was pleasant. Most of the hiking trails at the park are located on the other side of the river. So coming or going you have a chance to cool off. We hiked up a way and had lunch on the trail.
Once back at the tent we found a baby squirrel inside.
The afternoon was a repeat of the previous day.
Kids in water, then napping, then I head off to work on a video production.
I made it back to cook tacos for dinner and then hang out by the campfire till bedtime.
Once again the raccoons made a visit, but this time it was while Kendra and I were sitting by the fire.
This trip provided some of the best camping sleep I have ever had. It does help that we used the big camp cots. Grason chooses to be tough and sleep on the floor of the tent.
As people passed by the tracks close to our campsite we would overhear discussions. The best quote all week was,
“There is no way these are millions of years old, they would be washed away long before now.”
Camping at Dinosaur Valley State Park is Awesome.
This is not meant to be the worlds best travel log but a reminder to me and the family about the fun few days we spent on the bank of the Paluxy River in Glen Rose, Texas. The State Park was great and we will be back again to play in the dino tracks, hike and bike the trails.
Thanks for reading,
Posted by Perrin Derrick On June 18, 2018
Table of Contents
April 15 – Finish
12:00 am Tortilla Mountain 3249 Feet above sea-level climbing switchbacks.
2:15 flat out near Kelvin Florence Highway Trailhead – Not like I was pushing it flat out, but my back tire had a flat bad enough to break out a tube. A sidewall gash is a perfect reason to stop drop and sleep. But before sleep, I needed to do some work. After a new tube was dropped into the rear tire it was time to cook.
Oats, apple, cinnamon, quinoa was on the menu. This was the last camp meal I had with me. I heated up my water, mixed it in the bag and placed it between my ribcage and my right elbow. The alarm clock was set for 2 sleep cycles. I fluffed my hydration pack, placed my head on it as the warmth of camp meal bag added comfort as I nodded off.
3:30 am ate a few bites of my camp meal and then was on the bike Rolling to the trailhead. I had a hope of something magical being in the lock boxes at the trailhead. It was full of empty bottles of water, empty bags of chips, empty this empty that. It wasn’t that I needed anything at that point in time. I knew from now until the end of the race there was one faucet and one dirty river water opportunity and no food. I closed the boxes and moved out. Next destination, water at the public works fence faucet.
The morning was crisp and chilly. I looked for a way to cherish it the best way I could. You want to cuss the cold while being thankful it is not blazing hot like it will be in a few hours. By 7:15 the sun had broken over the mountains and it was time to bask in the sunlight and brew a cup of Coffee. I mad soup out of what was left in my camp meal packet. That was the best Quinoa colored water a boy could ask for.
I inventoried and here is what I had
- A few baby food packets
- Some bee pollen,
- Chia seeds
- Dark chocolate.
- I was saving my nun tablets and my beat elite powder for the muddy water of the Gila River.
It looked like I might have a thousand calories for today’s efforts. My food every 15 minutes was not going to happen today. For the math folks out there I’m 6’4 and require a base of 3200 calories a day if I’m sitting at a desk resting. Today is not going to be one of those resting days.
9:30 am – Last waterhole on the Gila – Mud river fill up.
I used the cleanest shirt I had and filtered the water going into my bottles. At a few spots, there were families playing on the other side of the river. It looked like a great spot to play all day. My day was looking up…. up 2,000 feet and then down to picket post.
4 pm Passed on Tally Tank – Biggest mistake I made in the race. By this point I was out of food.
With 10 miles to go, I flatted out and had to put a tube in. This left one last tube in my kit.
A few miles down the trail, the replacement tube went out with a bang and left me down in the dirt where my Coast flashlight jumped off my bike and dedicated itself to the AZT. After 2 tubes I ran out of options and just started to push a flat bike to the end. I was running low on water but thought I could get to the end of the race ok.
The last water on the mountain bike trail
I picked up a 1/2 jug of water from a very suspect pool. The thinking was to have it if I need it. A wee bit longer and I treated it and started to drink it. Even though I was taking small sips, in time the water ran out.
Along the trail, I would pray and thank God for the opportunity I had to be where I was. Three short years before I was flushing chemotherapy out of my system and growing a new head of hair. This year I was hacking at completing the goal of making it to the end of the Arizona Trail 300 mile mountain bike race. There were people God had blessed me with that helped me get to that very spot. I gave him thanks daily for them.
He was looking out for me at the end of the race. I had a small nap before jumping into the Gila section. With little rest came slow reactions. I wasn’t sure why I sliced a tire and then proceeded to run out of extra tubes, but when I came walking around a corner to see a rattlesnake across the trail I knew exactly why I needed to be pushing and not riding a bike.
6:56 – Done
There is no band, no cheerleaders, and no trophy for completing the AZT. In fact, if you get there before the 750 folks get there I would imagine they might heckle you for not riding “A real distance” I wouldn’t blame them. Ahead lies more miles for them than they have just ridden and you are on your way to Waffle House while they keep trucking.
I owe a huge thank you to my wife, Kendra, for staying back and taking it in the face. Litteral puke in the face. Our 3 little ones were very unhealthy while I was on the trail. She is a rock-star mom and wife. I don’t expect for her to understand why anyone would want to get on a bike and ride off into the wilderness, but she gives me support to do it.
From fighting cancer to raising children, to working a business together there is no one I would rather have at my side. She is amazing day in, day out.
My final thank you goes out to the Ragan Family. They have been there for me and my family for years. Their son James opened doors for me that I never thought I would need to walk through.
I just saw my aunt Tish a few days ago. She is still recovering from her illness in Arizona. Her Texas doctor was truly surprised to see her walk into his clinic. As he put it to her, “By reading your bloodwork I just knew you were going to die in Arizona”
Well my crazy aunt is still with us and we are happy.
Posted by Perrin Derrick On June 18, 2018
April 13 – Day Goal – Get off the Mountain
Steve and I hit the trail and it happened to be the wrong one.
Oracle Ridge would be a pain in the tail at night. Since we were rested up it was not near as bad as I thought it would be. Here is some raw video from the ridge. Passage 12: Oracle Ridge
Oracle Ridge on a Mountain Bike
There were several downed trees on the ridge trail. About an hour in I was tired of them and thought if you remove one then that is one less hurdle for someone to cross when they are on this difficult passage. I put down the bike and with all my force chunked a tree truck down the mountain. I think it sort of shocked Steve.
When you are on the Oracle Ridge section of the Arizona Trail you have to have tough clothing or tough skin. Some parts are wide open in all directions and others are narrow bushes and stunted trees that you have to force your way through. It felt like the plants were out to get you.
By noon we hit the Magic Gate. It wasn’t long and Steve needed to leave a deposit off the trail.
We continued our descent off of Mt Lemmon
The single track opened up to double track with a lot of down in it. I was riding fast and didn’t know I left the ground till I was back on it and my suspension compressed. Yep, with plenty of extra pounds on bike, I caught air coming off the mountain. I gave a big “woo” in celebration. When asked by Steve if I should go back and get it on film I quickly answered “No, I wasn’t trying to fly and wouldn’t be so lucky on the next attempt”
Brakes, please! The down was shaky and shady so I stayed on my brakes to keep me from becoming ground beef. Hard breaking turned into break squeak to all our break scream. I had to pit and pull my tools out to put in my spare pads. Where are my tools you ask? They are in by LONE PEAK saddle bag. They are the first thing I put in the bag before packing it with everything else. You can see the gray back in the photo below.
Somewhere along the trail, we found people working on the Arizona Trail Passage 13 and we’re very thankful and let them know how much we appreciated the work they put in on the trail.
4:30 High Jinks Ranch Stop
An afternoon ride. are next to the main destination would be the watering hole at the high Jinks Ranch. Ever since reading about this ranch I was really looking forward to seeing it and making it a little water stop oasis.
After arriving at the High Jinks Ranch I heard Steve talking about ditching the race. I really did not like this idea. You understand people are on the trail and pushing their bodily limits but you really want to see your fellow riders make it across the finish line. Sure you’re in competition and you want to be first place and you want to be the fastest and you want to be the most badass guy around but you also want the other people who are on the race to accomplish their goals as well.
The folks at the ranch were nice to offer hot water, coffee and a room to stay, or a place to tent. We probably hung out there for about 30 minutes cooking up a coffee and a warm camp meal. We used their facilities and then placed a small donation in the donation box and headed back out on the trail.
Steve boosted his energy level and got back on the bike. The American Flag Trail was nice to us. We seemed to make a good time as the sun was coming down.
It was 100% night as we approached 77. We heard my mom cheering for us as we came down the hill and under the highway.
At the trail’s intersection with Highway 77 I had a decision to make. The choice was to ride to picket-post with what I had on my bike or ride into Oracle for a Circle-K resupply. I chose to punch on and pass on getting food and batteries. Steve did the same.
Finding a campsite when sleep deprived is a pain. Sure you have been on a bike for 15 hours, but the term tired is relative when you are on the Arizona Trail.
We left Tiger Mine Trailhead and said goodbye to my mom who was there to cheer us on. Steve was about ready to quit and I kept prodding him on and on sometime around 9 we stopped for a hot meal and some coffee in hopes that we would ride all night.
By 11 Steve was looking to crash anywhere and I mean anywhere. Everything was looking really good to him. So we went ahead and found a spot right off of the trail. It seems that my camping spot was really close to a new cactus friend of mine. I backed into it and found a piece the size of a fist mounted on the back of my calf muscle. Steve yelled at me not to move anywhere and he came with his Leatherman tool and began to rip the spines out of my leg.
11:30 North Tiger Mine Campsite
Posted by Perrin Derrick On June 18, 2018
April 12 – Day Goal – Rest
Rest on the mountain was awesome. The store had a good supply of everything we needed including a plethora of organic goods.
Steve and I had time to sit and worry about what lies ahead. I read water reports and kept going back to mountain view tank. The report read, “Watch out for the killer minnows, but the water tastes great.”
Food, nap, food, repeat was the agenda for the rest of the day. We found time to clean clothing and water filters. We went to bed knowing the morning would be early and there might not be much rest until the end of this AZT party.
Posted by Perrin Derrick On June 18, 2018
APRIL 11 – Post 32 hour break
Get up before 4am and have the bike packed and loaded and did my last checks in the McDonald’s parking lot. The morning coffee did its job and when the mickey-ds lights came on I was the first in line to use their facilities.
The morning was cold and I really didn’t know what or how the day was a going to turn out. I had a good idea I would be running into rider Steve today.
5:30 am – With a fresh body, I marched through the sand pits at the end of Broadway and onto Rredington Road. A few motorbikes came buy and I wished my mountain bike had a motor. I trucked it up and down this craphole of a road. I found the ride enjoyable as I moved on at a good pace. My friend Robert text me and told me to slow down because it would be a long day. Not an hour went by and I met Steve getting ready to close a gate.
No hug, no handshake, just work. It was as if the past year had not With little more than a head nod we were on the trail. We started to motor on down the trail. We hit a waterhole around 2pm. At this time I noticed I was missing one of my fork bottles.
We rested longer than expected before we started packing. In an attempt to know some sense into himself, Steve headbutted a tree branch. He was fussing a bit before I broke out my nurse kit, and then he was fussing a lot.
The Woundseal worked like a champ and we were off to find this Canyon named Mediera. As the sun set the blood moon was rising. Nature must have known about it. Right before we made the saddle a pair of deer showed us how easy it was to climb mountains. As we dropped into a national park campground we scared the piss out of some campers who didn’t expect nighttime riders.
The blood moon was absolutely amazing.
Must have been about 9:30 pm when we took a break for dinner. Hot camp meal for me, power mix pemican non-food for Steve. We had some coffee and were off to find pavement. This would be the pavement (Catalina Highway) to the top of the mountain. It kept getting cooler it got later and we were ascending Mt. Lemmon. We had a cabin waiting for us in Summer Haven and were determined to get there.
As we stopped to put on another layer of clothing we heard running water. There was a creek below and we topped off with ice cold water. This problem was fixed in the making of coffee. Found this toad on the water run.
We rode some and hiked the pavement a lot. The road had very few travelers that time of night. I found myself waking up on my bike. It was just like nodding off while reading a book at home, but I was on a mountain in the middle of the night climbing. There were times when a quarter mile or more would separate me and Steve. His clip in pedals were killing his feet. By 4 am he deemed it necessary to pull the cleats and improve his hiking comfort. As he pulled out his toolkit I curled up in the road’s gutter and took a nap.
By sunrise, we were near the top of the trail. I had been texting with my dad about progress as he was preparing to go to work for the day. I was spinning cranks going up a 9,000-foot mountain at 4 miles per hour talking on the phone and getting ready to put an end to a 24-hour push on the bike. Yea, I was feeling good about my accomplishment.
From the top of the mountain to the village of Summerhaven is downhill.
There are no free miles
Climbing up the mountain works your muscles good and creates warmth and sweat. Riding downhill will chill you to the bones as the wind helps your sweat a subzero nightmare. Well, it is not that bad, but it is not as enjoyable as you wanted it to be.
I reached the cabin 25 hours after taking off from Tucson. The mission of the day was a success. There were 2 riders behind us at this point and it would be nice to run into them, but we were going to take a full 24 hours off.