Every year on the third weekend in June, ham radio operators all over the country participate in a "Field Day" sponsored by the National Association for Amateur Radio.
The purpose of the event is to demonstrate their ability to send messages in many different forms without the use of phone systems, internet or any other infrastructure
that can be compromised in a crisis. Since 2007, we've been celebrating Field Day with our ham radio buddies at remote, high-elevation locations in Arizona and New Mexico.
This year we had planned to return to a prime spot in the Gila National Forest, but when temperatures suddenly soared into the high 90s, we redirected to
one of our favorite camping areas in the White Mountains of Arizona.
Hats off to the crew that made the long drive from Tucson and Phoenix! For Dennis and me, it was a short and scenic hop of 150 miles, broken up
by a "second breakfast" at the Bear Wallow Cafe in Alpine.
Destinated at 9300', 75° with a nice cool breeze. Ahhhhh!
Slowly our fellow campers began filtering in. That's Al outside Doug's camp. Al has been joining us for Field Day since 2007.
Dennis and I do a little radio and a lot of hiking at these events. Friday we more or less threw a dart at a map and set out for Hay Lake.
At the headwaters for the South Fork Little Colorado River, winds gusting to 50 mph almost blew us over!
Vast, grassy, rolling meadows stretch to the horizon in every direction, punctuated by dayglo green ponds and stands of giant douglas fir.
"Sweeping vistas" hardly captures the incredible panoramas [scroll].
Hay Lake — mostly hay, some lake — was larger and lusher than we expected. On the far shore is the edge of an enormous burn scar that stretches all the way to Greer, and
is the one thing that stopped us from attempting to hike into town for ice cream!
As if the hike wasn't difficult enough, on the way back we decided to try to walk a straight line, regardless of the obstacles. That's Wahl Knoll in the distance.
Patches of snow on Sunrise Peak. Yup, we were plenty tired by the time we returned to camp, with about eight miles of bushwhacking behind us.
The next day's target was Wahl Knoll, 9768'. Like most of the promontories in this area, it is shorn of trees on the southern slope.
Daaaang, what a view from the summit! [scroll]
Escudilla to the east, East and West Baldy to the south, Sunrise Peak in the west, Greens Peak to the north, and beyond, the field of cinder cones on the far side of the Little Colorado River.
Our most significant radio activity was staking a claim to Wahl Knoll — 10 points! — for Summits on the Air (SOTA).
Returning to camp, after threading our way through a forest of young aspens thriving in an old burn scar.
Our third and final hike was a bushwhack through a burn scar with lots of wildflowers, then back to camp along a tiny stream.
We ate lunch in the shade of a Douglas fir next to a field of Western Blue Flag Irises.
Nevada Sweet Pea.
What a great Field Day! Thanks everyone for keeping us company, on the air and in person!