Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park Trip Report

Status
Not open for further replies.

inigo88

California DB Admin
Database Admin
Joined
Oct 31, 2004
Messages
1,994
Location
San Diego, CA
I just got back from camping in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park last weekend, and was able to bring my scanner along. KNP has been somewhat of a confusing place for RR listeners over the last few years, with several threads per year popping up about KNP frequencies heard and questions about their use. Exsmokey has posted and maintained some excellent info for the park radio system, but I believe his ability to actually visit the park and confirm the frequency usage is somewhat limited being on the other side of the Sierras.

I could have posted this trip report in one of the existing KNP threads, however I camped in Grant Grove with no cell phone or internet service, so the information I gathered below was done so independently of what's currently in the database, wiki and forums. I remembered several past KNP threads referring to the system being broken up between "Front Country" (west) and "Back Country" (east) nets, but that's all the information I had to go from. I kept the scanner on "limit search" mode between 163 MHz - 174 MHz the whole weekend and took notes, with the intent of cross-checking against the RR database and forums when I returned to civilization.

It's also worth noting that the "Rough Fire" was burning just down the hill from us near Hume Lake while we were staying in Grant Grove, so the limit search mode caught a lot of federal firefighting traffic related to that incident as well. Finally, with Grant Grove being near 6600 ft elevation, I caught a lot of distant federal band traffic as well.

As a baseline, here are the two most recent/relevant KNP threads I can find:
http://forums.radioreference.com/ca...6420-sequoia-kings-canyon-national-parks.html
http://forums.radioreference.com/federal-monitoring-forum/317038-knp-backcountry-gone-digital.html

Here's the KNP channel plan Exsmokey posted in the first thread, now just over a year old:
Exsmokey said:
171.7000 165.6000 KMC735 RM 167.9 KNP CMD MlkPt Ch 1 Command Milk Ranch - South
171.6750 165.6000 KMC735 RM 167.9 KNP CMD PrkRdg Ch 2 Command Parkridge - North
171.6250 165.6000 KMC735 RM 167.9 KNP CMD Thrps Ch 3 Command Tharps Hill - South Front Country
170.0250 164.4750 RM 156.7 KNP BC Evol Ch 4 Backcountry Evolution Rpt
170.3625 165.0000 RM 156.7 KNP BC Windy Ch 5 Backcountry Windy Rpt
172.1125 166.0875 RM 156.7 KNP BC Gould Ch 6 Backcountry Mt. Gould Rpt
170.0250 164.4750 RM 167.9 KNP BC Palmer Ch 7 Backcountry Palmer Rpt
172.1125 166.0875 RM 167.9 KNP BC Prdse Ch 8 Backcountry Paradise Rpt
170.3625 165.6000 RM 167.9 KNP BC Frgtn Ch 9 Backcountry Forgotten Rpt
168.6125 168.6125 M General Use Ch 10 General Use
163.7125 163.7125 M Common Use Ch 11 Common Use
166.5500 166.5500 M R5 Tac 4 Ch 12 USFS R5 Tac 4
168.0500 168.0500 M NIFC Tac 1 Ch 13 NIFC Tac 1
167.4750 167.4750 M AG41 Prim Ch 14 AG 41 Air to Ground Primary
168.6375 168.6375 M AG24 Secd Ch 15 AG 24 Air to Ground Secondary
173.6750 173.6750 M KNP AG Ch 16 Sequoia Kings Air to Ground

I can verify the following:

KNP's Front-Country (west) Net is referred to as "Command", with dispatch identifying as "Park Dispatch" or just "Dispatch." This is what Exsmokey refers to as a Multicast system, i.e. the same common repeater input frequency feeds three repeater output frequencies based on receiver voting on the input. Each of those three repeater output frequencies carries the same simulcast traffic, so a ranger on any of the three repeater output frequencies will hear the same audio.

171.675 MHz (Rx) PL 167.9 - KNP Command - Park Ridge Repeater. Strong signal in Grant Grove.

171.700 MHz (Rx) PL 167.9 - KNP Command - South (Milk Ranch Repeater?). Signal got stronger as we approached Lodgepole.

171.625 MHz (Rx) PL 167.9 - KNP Command - Further South? (Tharps Hill Repeater?). This signal was consistently weak as far south as the General Sherman Tree, so I figured it must have been further south or southeast of that location. I found Tharps Rock near Alta Peak on a map, and if this is the correct repeater location I suspect it's either lower power or directional towards the S/SE and partially blocked by the terrain east of General Sherman Tree, hence why it had a weaker signal than Milk Ranch in that area.

165.600 MHz (Tx) PL 167.9 - KNP Command Repeater Input. This was confirmed in the Grant Grove area from several ranger mobiles and a stronger base station identifying as "SIO".

Here's a sample of the traffic on Command:
Dispatch, 411. Rockfall on highway 180 blocking traffic to Grant Grove.
Contact CALTRANS.
411 will have patrol rangers check it out.
Base station traffic from SIO.
974 to 811.
92-27 conducting normal status checks.
Mentions of Ash Mountain, Punch Bowl.
41-23 to any Grant Grove campground unit...
636 at upper Sherman with a visitor who locked their keys in their car.
51-21 Almond contacting another unit at camp site 116, requesting they switch to "General Use."
Other rangers requesting they switch to "General." (same freq)
Protection ranger asked another unit to switch to "LE Tac." (Unfortunately I never found LE Tac, it's presumably simplex.)

Park Dispatch did a morning fire weather broadcast around 9 am, but also gave a run down on available fire units and their coverage for the day, which I jotted down. Note that since the Rough fire was burning in full force there may have been some KNP units committed, and this might not represent normal coverage.

Sequoia National Park Coverage: Chief 1
Kings Canyon National Park Coverage: Division 2

Engine 51 available local
Helicopter 552 available local

Outside Resources:
- Sequoia National Forest Engine 31
- Three Rivers Fire Engine 4XXX (didn't catch the whole thing)

(Park Dispatch signed off as KMC735)

Per the second thread at the beginning of this post, I can also verify that the Back-Country net has gone P25 digital.

172.1125 MHz (Rx) NAC 61F - KNP Back-Country. I'm unsure of the repeater location for this frequency, but I was only able to receive it on a short stretch of Hwy 198 between Hwy 180 and Lodgepole.

I heard 700 and 800 units. Also, although not a true "multicast" setup since there are multiple repeater output/input frequency pairs, I believe all the repeaters on the Back-Country net are definitely simulcast, because I heard several units contacting dispatch referring to different repeater locations (I believe I heard one say he was on Palmer while another said he was on Gould). In both cases the signal strength was consistent with the traffic coming from the same repeater (same Rx freq and NAC).

168.6125 MHz (Simplex) NAC 293 - NPS General Use (aka "GENUSE").
General Use is used as a simplex tactical in the park, often by units patrolling the campgrounds. This is an NPS nationwide frequency so look for it in use in other parks. All traffic was P25 digital.

121 on General, what side are you on?
Campsite #21.

I also found two UHF open carriers I suspect are used for repeater downlinks in the park, although I was never able to hear any traffic on them. These were in Grant Grove so likely coming from the Parkridge site.

410.825 MHz CSQ
415.9125 MHz PL 141.3

The following frequencies are not KNP/SEKI related, but were active as part of the Rough Fire burning near Hume Lake in the Sequoia NF:

170.0125 Rx PL 123.0 - Fire Command repeater used on the Rough Fire (low power, portable repeater?).
Federal Incident Response (IR-1/6).

168.400 Tx PL 123.0 - Repeater Input to IR-1/6 Fire Command repeater (strong signal from Air Attack).

168.7375 MHz CSQ - Air Attack doing an incident size-up for ground units (used as an Air-to-Ground).

163.100 MHz CSQ - Helicopter talking to ground units. NIFC All Call 01?

170.6875 MHZ PL 123.0 - Federal Incident Response (IR-3/8)? Related to Rough Fire.

171.475 MHz PL 85.4 - Sierra NF Admin Net (Repeater Output). "In service good morning."

169.875 MHz PL 123.0 and PL 136.5 - Sierra NF Admin Net Repeater Input (Dispatch only). Reference to CA vehicle code, SNF#, Edward 1. IDed as "Sierra". Grant Grove seemed to be in a better spot to hear the uplink from the dispatch center than the actual repeater.

172.225 MHz PL 85.4 - Sierra NF Emergency Net (Repeater Output). Fire weather broadcast. Dispatcher IDed as "Sierra." "Battalion 91" (or 591). Engine 2224. Ranger 24. "On scene of Music Incident."

169.925 MHz PL 136.5 and PL 146.2 - Sierra NF Emergency Net Repeater Input (Dispatch). "Copy traffic from 520?" "KNB26" (or similar callsign). Morning resources for Stanislaus, Fresno, High Sierra and Sequoia NF.

168.775 MHz - Sequoia NF Fire Net (Repeater Output).

168.65 MHz PL 110.9 - National Flight Following. Air Attack placing an order with Sequoia NF dispatch for a tanker out of Porterville. "Sierra copies."

Unrelated / Distant Fed Stuff:

171.55 MHz PL 103.5 - Los Padres NF Admin Net. "Los Padres, 453 copies."

170.4625 MHz PL 103.5 - Los Padres NF Forest Net. Status report on fire resources Santa Barbara, Ventura and Monterey. Likely traffic related to the Cuesta fire.

173.4625 MHz NAC 100 - "58 do you have traffic for 14?" "56, 59 on Fremont." Referred to maintenance on vessels. I believe this is US Army Corp of Engineers on Fremont Peak near Monterey. Traffic was maritime related.

169.6625 MHz NAC 100 - Open mic. Appeared to be simulcast with the Fremont repeater. US Army Corp of Engineers?

173.4125 MHz NAC 124 - P25 Encrypted.
165.1125 MHz NAC 124 - P25 Encrypted (possibly simulcast with the above).

408.325 MHz - P25 Control Channel. SysID 4C7. Site 101. WACN BEE00. NAC 4C1. US Penitentiary Atwater.

381.675 MHz - P25 Control Channel. SysID 14C. Site 522. WACN BEE00. NAC 140. Navy NRSW ELMR system, NAS Lemoore site.

Hope that helps!
 

ecps92

Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2002
Messages
14,534
Location
Taxachusetts
Nice Finds for the ACoE !

As for the $124 NAC, for the Military folks in CA
is there a 124th..... ?? I know the Wing is Idaho Air National Guard, but anything in CA ??

I just got back from camping in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park last weekend, and was able to bring my scanner along. KNP has been somewhat of a confusing place for RR listeners over the last few years, with several threads per year popping up about KNP frequencies heard and questions about their use. Exsmokey has posted and maintained some excellent info for the park radio system, but I believe his ability to actually visit the park and confirm the frequency usage is somewhat limited being on the other side of the Sierras.


173.4625 MHz NAC 100 - "58 do you have traffic for 14?" "56, 59 on Fremont." Referred to maintenance on vessels. I believe this is US Army Corp of Engineers on Fremont Peak near Monterey. Traffic was maritime related.

169.6625 MHz NAC 100 - Open mic. Appeared to be simulcast with the Fremont repeater. US Army Corp of Engineers?

173.4125 MHz NAC 124 - P25 Encrypted.
165.1125 MHz NAC 124 - P25 Encrypted (possibly simulcast with the above).



Hope that helps!
 

inigo88

California DB Admin
Database Admin
Joined
Oct 31, 2004
Messages
1,994
Location
San Diego, CA
Nice Finds for the ACoE !

As for the $124 NAC, for the Military folks in CA
is there a 124th..... ?? I know the Wing is Idaho Air National Guard, but anything in CA ??

Thanks Bill. I used to live in the bay area, which has a strong Army Corps of Engineers presence, but this was the first time I've ever heard their comms. It looks like the US Army Corps of Engineers San Francisco District has Operations & Maintenance duties in Santa Cruz, Moss Landing and Monterey harbors, so I believe the fact that I heard Fremont mentioned was in reference to a repeater on Fremont Peak.

As for the encrypted repeaters, I don't think there's a 124th in CA (the closest I can think of is the 129th Rescue Wing of the ANG up at Moffett). There is a strong ANG presence at Fresno Int'l airport just down the hill from KNP which I suppose could be a possibility, if that freq/NAC combo isn't representative of the usual suspects in the fed monitoring world.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
0
Location
Virginia
I was able to take a quick view, but did not receive a original or given permission to make copies of the 2015 R5 Frequency Guide. The listing for Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park's backcountry net is the same as last years, with only CTCSS tones provided and nothing to indicated the net operating in digital.

I don't remember where I wrote this, but my theory that the system can be operated in digital or analog seems to possible given Inigo's report and the CTCSS tones shown in official listing two years in a row.

Inigo, that is the best monitoring log/trip report I've seen on this site. It includes most of the information I wanted to get by traveling there myself. I still plan on getting up to Parkridge Lookout if not this year, in 2016. I want to see if I can figure out how the backcountry repeaters are linked. The road to the lookout was open to the public when I spent a summer in the park back in 1971. Now its gated near the junction with that scenic overlook road. I had hoped to use my mobile scanners with rooftop antennas, but now it looks like a short hike and handhelds have to be used.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
0
Location
Virginia
This park has spent a fair amount of money developing and building their radio system. I have concluded that the official R5 directory shows the backcountry system as being workable with analog radios as well. I've been puzzled for years about why people hear a digital system while the frequency directories shows it analog. The dual capability explanation is the only one that fits this situation. Years ago you could drive up to Parkridge Lookout. When I can get some time I think I will hike in with a small ground plane antenna and attach it to the handrailing on the lookout.
 

inigo88

California DB Admin
Database Admin
Joined
Oct 31, 2004
Messages
1,994
Location
San Diego, CA
Hey Fred,

That's exactly the case. I've had a chance to look through the programming info for at least one NPS park in California, and each repeater input/output frequency pair was assigned two channels and was programmed like this:

"Repeater Name - A" for analog, with PL tones.
"Repeater Name - D" for digital, with NACs.

The Net in question was simulcast, even though each repeater had a discreet input/output frequency.

The Bendix-King DPH/DMH radios the park used were programmed to receive both digital AND analog on every channel, so to the users with digital capable radios like protection rangers it made no difference whether they were receiving one or the other (just a difference in sound quality).

To the folks issued older radios (perhaps interpretation, maintenance, etc) they can only receive analog, so they'll either hear the digital buzz or the lack of CTCSS tone will just mute it. The repeaters themselves are dual purpose and are programmed to listen on the input frequency for either the analog PL tone or the digital NAC.

For outside agencies interfacing with the park it wouldn't surprise me at all if only the analog channel info is given, because digital tends to be favored by LE/protection rangers when available. Fire still tends to prefer analog due to the ease with interop and signal propagation differences, plus the larger fleet of analog only radios.

I am reasonably sure the repeater frequencies you have for the KNP Backcountry Net are correct, you're just only seeing half the story because you got the information from a federal fire interop guide that only listed the analog half.

Although I have no insider information on KNP, I'd put good money on the Back Country Net being mixed mode analog/digital and simulcast across all repeater frequencies. I think all the local users in the park are told to use the digital channel only, but the analog channel is retained since the repeaters are mixed mode.

The front country KNP command net will probably remain analog NFM only for the foreseeable future, since it is a multicast net with a common input frequency and receiver voting. I suspect due to that increased complexity it will be slightly more difficult to throw the switch on converting that net from analog to digital.
 

scottyhetzel

Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2011
Messages
1,409
Location
Palm Springs Area / OrCo
This park has spent a fair amount of money developing and building their radio system. I have concluded that the official R5 directory shows the backcountry system as being workable with analog radios as well. I've been puzzled for years about why people hear a digital system while the frequency directories shows it analog. The dual capability explanation is the only one that fits this situation. Years ago you could drive up to Parkridge Lookout. When I can get some time I think I will hike in with a small ground plane antenna and attach it to the handrailing on the lookout.

Hi Fred, I heard digital today from Josh Tree NP . It was a quick dig TX. I was not able to see the NAC in time. This is the first time I have heard Dig. I understand a member reported dig while in the park months ago.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
0
Location
Virginia
Hi Fred, I heard digital today from Josh Tree NP . It was a quick dig TX. I was not able to see the NAC in time. This is the first time I have heard Dig. I understand a member reported dig while in the park months ago.

Interesting. I'm not sure why the Department of the Interior, especially the NPS is pushing forward with digital. I have not heard of any mandate to do so. I'm not sure how well it works in rugged topography. My impression is that the coverage is not as good as analog. If it works without adding any repeaters in the Sequoia-Kings Canyon (SEKI} backcountry it would seem as though it provides pretty good coverage.

My concern is the all or nothing aspect of digital. I've been in situations in the backcountry where my signal was very marginal and likely would not even break squelch on digital. Yet, on analog I was able to communicate in spite of a lot of noise on the signal. In one case the communication was a life and death type communication and I climbed to the highest point as I could given the short time frame I was dealing with. What would have happened if I had to use digital. If a person hears a noisy signal a great deal of concentration has to be used to pick out the message from the noise, but it can be done.

As I typed the last sentence another idea came to mind. All the reasons we have already figured out for the dual mode repeater system are valid. However, what if the capability for analog has been built in for cases where a backcountry ranger can't get through on digital? I wish I knew some of the backcountry rangers at SEKI and met with them once a year like I used to. I would value their views on how digital works much more than I would management's view. In the 1980's SEKI backcountry were quite outspoken and as a group the best group of on the ground wilderness managers in the country. The Inyo NF had some great ones as well and some of them are still on the job.

There was some discussion of some other frequencies that some people had received from SEKI that are not listed above. I will look for those threads and see if any of them are one of the six frequencies used for the backcountry system. I seem to remember that people said they were hearing front country traffic on these other frequencies.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
0
Location
Virginia
The only loose end we have now is the reports of people receiving 162.1625 in the digital mode. Someone revised SEKI's wiki channel table to show six different repeaters with 162.1625 as an input to 169.6250. The table also show individual NAC's only,with the CTCSS equivalent of each corresponding to Tones 1-6. I'm not sure why the second digital is in place. Many people have been reporting hearing 162.1625 in the digital mode with the repeater names such as Palmer, Gould, etc. mentioned. Individual NAC's for each repeater may mean this net is not simulcast. With an identical output frequency these repeaters would have to be synced or phased (I don't recall the right name) similar to metro area simulcast systems. I'm not sure that can be done in such rugged terrain. The table shows the linked, multicast repeater system with CTCSS tones only and not NAC's. This does not match with inigo's report.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top