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Cell Phone Reception

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Cell Phone Reception

Postby Bearman » Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:40 am

Spent the past weekend at Thousand Island and Garnet Lakes. Was amazed that I had cell phone reception at both places (not that I wanted to call anybody, but sure is nice in case of emergency or to coordinate resupply at Agnews/Reds Meadows if hiking the JMT). This was using Verizon.

I was wondering if anyone has any more information regarding cell phone reception in the sierra?



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Re: Cell Phone Reception

Postby Shawn » Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:06 pm

I don't have any specific cell phone recpetion info for the Sierra; but when I see cell phone issues raised I always like to convey this point:

Federal requirements mandate that open access exist between carriers for the purpose of making emergency calls via 911. So, for example, if you have Sprint as a cell phone provider and you intend to dial 911 but notice no reception bars, that's because you are out of range from a Sprint cell site. However, you could (literally) be standing next to a Verizon cell site which is obliged to pass any 911 traffic.

The point here is simple; regardless of how many "bars" are showing on your cell phone - if you have an emergency dial 911 on the chance that another carriers cell site can receive your signal.

Just my .02 cents.......
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Re: Cell Phone Reception

Postby dave54 » Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:20 pm

I often carry a cell phone but rarely pull it out of my pack and check for reception.

Although there is the one time I was hiking with my wife, when on a whim she did check. She had an urgent message from her real estate office to call a client. So I sat on on a 8,000' ridge watching the clouds go by while my wife successfully negotiated a half million dollar sale. :)

I sometimes carry an external antenna with a 6' cable. I can put the antenna end on a pole and hoist it high in the air, getting a usable signal where without the antennae there is no signal.
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Re: Cell Phone Reception

Postby 4449 » Fri Aug 29, 2008 3:13 pm

The Loch Leven Lakes area (Tahoe NF), specifically High Loch Leven, had good cell reception. Admittedly, I'm embarrassed to be on a phone in the wilderness, but it's good know if a signal is there just in case. Also, nearby Fordyce Lake had on/off reception. The Loon Lake area (Eldorado NF) was spotty- I found a signal on Ice House Road, about 1/2 mile prior (south) to the boat ramp/paid campground entrance. This is the "canyon area" of Ice House Road. No signal found at the Triangle Lake area (Lassen/Caribou Wilderness).
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Re: Cell Phone Reception

Postby copeg » Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:01 pm

Only a few times have I tried for reception, and many fewer times have I actually gotten descent reception, at least enough to try and make a call. I honestly don't remember where many of those places are. I have heard if you have a week signal, a text message might be more likely to make it through because it requires much less of a signal to get through (haven't tested this theory myself).

Shawn thanks for the 411 on the 911. Good to know.
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Re: Cell Phone Reception

Postby Buck Forester » Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:40 pm

I don't carry a cell phone with me while backpacking, but when we hiked the JMT my hiking partner did (back in 2003). I remember he made calls on top of Glen Pass and Forester Pass (may have been others, but those two stick out).
It's all about the WILDERNESS!!!

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Re: Cell Phone Reception

Postby Poopah » Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:47 pm

Checked in on the wife and kids while crossing Phipps pass a few weeks back.
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Re: Cell Phone Reception

Postby JMat » Fri Aug 29, 2008 6:43 pm

Was able to call my wife a few weeks ago from the top of Mt Whitney too. I use my phone as a camera too and have found coverage in many places through out the Sierra. I've found it's generally on an east or west facing slope, usually not in the middle somewhere. Unless you're close to populated areas/ski resorts like Mammoth or Tahoe and even Kirkwood.

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Re: Cell Phone Reception

Postby Sierra Maclure » Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:33 pm

My experience in Yos. is that if you can see Sentinel Dome you can usually bet on reception. We call those areas "The Phone Booths."

PS. I'm back here at Topix after a long hiatus cuz I hurt my back and have been ordered by my doc to rest. Over-use & not acting my age, no doubt. We think it's a disc. Dang. So I'm propped up here in the recliner while my clients and main assistant are out having fun on my REI trip. I'm hoping to be out there again in 3 weeks for my last REI trip of the season and hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal in Oct. In the meantime, all I have to do is my 2007 taxes. Booring. ](*,)
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Re: Cell Phone Reception

Postby LMBSGV » Sat Aug 30, 2008 9:40 pm

I've carried a phone on most solo trips since 1998. I've found reception to not just be spotty, but inconsistent. For example, In six times over Muir Pass with a phone, I got reception once, Pinchot Pass 5 times and reception once, Forrester three times and never any reception. Generally (and I stress that this is a rather broad "generally), if you get a good, unobstructed by ridges view of the Owens Valley or a very long view to the west/southwest (towards Fresno in other words), then you get reception. So by Lower Twin Island Lake above the canyon for the N. Fork of the San Joaquin, I got great reception. In SEKI, I rarely get a signal due to the sightlines almost always being obstructed.
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Re: Cell Phone Reception

Postby pacwildiver » Sun Aug 31, 2008 11:12 pm

As I am doing the JMT to 1000 Island, solo, in 2 weeks, it's good to know that there may be service. I'll carry my phone just in case. Thanks.
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