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Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area

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Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 13, 2007 07:23PM
I am planning a hike coming into Yosemite from the north on the Pacific Coast Trail. Since I am traveling alone I was thinking to bring a cell phone.

Does anyone have any experience with cell phones working north of Tuolumne Meadows?

Mike
avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 13, 2007 08:09PM
I've seen a little bit of roaming coverage on my phone in Tuolumne. Not sure I'd be able to make a call.

avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 13, 2007 09:09PM
I don't even carry a cell phone anymore. There just isn't any coverage up there. Bring a CD to use as a signaling device. When you get to TM use the pay phone.





Old Dude
Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 13, 2007 09:48PM
Coverage may depend on the carrier. T-Mobile doesn't work in the Valley but Verizon does.

I heard that AT&T has a site in the Meadows.

Mike
avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 13, 2007 11:08PM
Cell phones work at frequencies (around 1 GHz) in the lower part of the microwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum. This means that, for all intents and purposes, you need a line-of-sight between your cell phone and the transmitting/receiving antenna of the carrier. Also, the typical signal powers involved with cell phones generally limits the usable signal to within a radius of a few (2-3) miles of the antenna.

Bottom line: if you are in the backcountry, you would need a satellite phone to communicate.
Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 14, 2007 01:21AM
None of the new phones that I have work in Yosemite, however my mom's old phone works because it still has analog mode. Most new cell phones are digital only, which even when I was on top of Cloud's Rest did not work. My parents friend had got a tri-mode phone and it got service and worked good enough to make calls. All the phones we tried were using Verizon. The best place I found for reception in TM is near the road or any place where there is limited trees.

avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 14, 2007 07:59AM
Javmp wrote:

> None of the new phones that I have work in Yosemite, however my
> mom's old phone works because it still has analog mode. Most
> new cell phones are digital only, which even when I was on top
> of Cloud's Rest did not work. My parents friend had got a
> tri-mode phone and it got service and worked good enough to
> make calls. All the phones we tried were using Verizon. The
> best place I found for reception in TM is near the road or any
> place where there is limited trees.

I haven't tried it out in TM, but I've gotten pretty good cell phone coverage in certain parts of the valley. Back in Dec 2005 I tried using a Samsung phone with Cingular service, but didn't get a signal anywhere in the Valley. However - last year I noticed people using their phones at the Ahwahnee.

It really does depend where you are. Some spots are iffy - especially on the roads. I usually pull over to make a call. Yosemite Lodge and the Ahwahnee seem to be good spots for cell phone coverage.

I brought my Motorola RAZR V3 with me, but wasn't sure where I could get coverage (AT&T/Cingular). I was in the backcountry (at the junction of Clouds Rest and John Muir trails) when I noticed what sounded like a kid talking on his phone to his family. I then pulled out my phone and it worked. I have a coworker who loves Yosemite, and I (briefly) called him from Half Dome and Clouds Rest.

Of course I didn't overuse my phone. It might get to the point where someone is overbearing talking on the phone, and I didn't have a means of recharging my battery in the backcountry. I wanted enough charge to make an emergency call if needed. I thought of getting something like a hand crank charger or a AA charger. I did use my phone to report a couple of bear sightings.
avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 14, 2007 09:59AM
One good reason to bring the phone is 911. The phones go into a special mode when you make a 911 call and may be able to get through even though it looks like you have no coverage. They'll use anybody's cell that they can talk to in that mode.

avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 14, 2007 12:20PM
eeek wrote:

> One good reason to bring the phone is 911. The phones go into a
> special mode when you make a 911 call and may be able to get
> through even though it looks like you have no coverage. They'll
> use anybody's cell that they can talk to in that mode.

I'm pretty sure there are a limited number of regular calls that can be handled. It's not like a city environment where cell phone availability is really important for the providers' business. It would make sense that they give a high priority to emergency calls (i.e. 911) by leaving some capacity only for 911.

I remember there was some controversy over cell phone towers in Grand Teton. They eventually went up, but were painted green to blend with the trees.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20040412/news_mz1b12cell.html
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9887808/

Quote

But on the other side of the equation, Yosemite spokesman Deb Schweizer said the park in California also has gotten calls from hikers who are simply pooped and want a lift out. They get a polite refusal.

The strangest thing I heard of was someone who didn't pay his service and repeatedly called 911 because that was the only phone number that worked. He might have ended up in jail for repeated illegal use of an emergency resource.

Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 14, 2007 02:04PM
I do not like the idea of using cell phones in the back country, but in emergencies it may be handy.

Thanks for the quick and clear advise.

That's what makes this list such a valuable resource.

I'll post a report on mosquitoes and water levels on the river fords when I get back.

Mike
avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 15, 2007 06:40PM
I received weak coverage on a Motorola v815 near the Tioga road at pothole dome next to T Meadow in July 2005, and received good coverage on an iPhone with AT&T on July 5-8 2007 in T Meadows campground and nearby areas.

I always carry a cell in the backcountry - 5 years ago my group discovered a one-hour old forest fire at the edge of Lake Spaulding (campers left and didn't extinguish their campfire completely) and we were the first to discover it and report it; I nearly left my phone behind that day, and never have since.
avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 15, 2007 10:44PM
vdrummer wrote:

> I always carry a cell in the backcountry - 5 years ago my group
> discovered a one-hour old forest fire at the edge of Lake
> Spaulding (campers left and didn't extinguish their campfire
> completely) and we were the first to discover it and report it;
> I nearly left my phone behind that day, and never have since.

They can also be a source of light in an emergency. A hospital recently lost power and the backups didn't work. The surgeons used cellphones to light their work.

avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 16, 2007 09:09AM
Personally I am completely against any electronic devices in the backcountry.
Except of course my Archos 604 PMP. Load it up with TV shows
and movies and wala... that 11 hours of tent time is TV time baby!
I am watching the "stars" in my tent!
avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 16, 2007 09:30AM
Billy,
Don't forget to mention the Solio Universal Hybrid Solar Charger and the three or four extra batteries you will be lugging down the JMT in September.

(I've tried to shame him out of the TV thing but to no avail.)





Old Dude
avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 16, 2007 12:29PM
mrcondron wrote:

> Billy,
> Don't forget to mention the Solio Universal Hybrid Solar
> Charger and the three or four extra batteries you will be
> lugging down the JMT in September.

I'm sure it's a fine product, but it seems rather pricey and heavy. This was my earlier suggestion:



http://www.charge2go.com/store/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=2&idproduct=1

This one can be charged off of any type of AA battery. They use some sort of charge pump to ramp up the voltage. I believe a typical 2500 mAh NiMH AA battery should be enough to fully charge a dead 3.6 V 700 mAh phone battery. You could also use an alkaline AA battery in a pinch. There are a variety of different sellers (other than the manufacturer) and some kits are $20 with a variety of plugs. The limitation is that it's only meant to charge 3.6V phone batteries and not a variety of different voltages. They do have a more expensive universal charger, but that's $60.

Here's another retailer:

http://www.portablecellphonecharger.com

Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 16, 2007 11:56AM
Just a point of clarification: There is no Pacific Coast Trail. If you are talking about the trail through Yosemite, you mean the Pacific Crest Trail.

This is important, as if you get in trouble, and call 911 on your cell and tell them you are on the Pacific Coast Trail, you will create a considerable delay, as they try to figure out where you are. The CHP dispatchers in Barstow, who will handle your call, get few of these.

(there is a West Coast Trail).
Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 19, 2007 11:40AM
I have T-mobile and can only make 911 calls.
Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 19, 2007 11:48AM
I carry a Globalstar satellite phone ... works anywhere way out in the backcountry ...
avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 19, 2007 12:35PM
Anvanho wrote:

> I carry a Globalstar satellite phone ... works anywhere way out
> in the backcountry ...

Isn't it a wee bit on the heavy (and exspensive) side?

Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 21, 2007 11:48PM
I just got back. AT&T worked in Tuolumne Meadows but the signal strength was only enough at the Lodge to make a call.... Of course, 911 may have gone through.

Thanks for all the comments made...
avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 28, 2007 09:31AM
i have an cell phone that is about 3 yrs old (motorola) with Cingular (now AT&T)... i go to Yosemite frequently.... up until about a year ago, i couldn't get reception at all in the Valley, but now i do... but once i leave the valley, i can't get reception until i'm at the top of Old Priest Grade Road (hwy 120)...
Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 28, 2007 03:21PM
There is a CDMA tower at the airport in Groveland. This will work with Verizon and other carriers, but not AT&T (which uses GSM). So coverage with CDMA phones is better along the 120 corridor.

I personally prefer to get tri-mode phones that support the old analog standard. Often rural areas still have analog service where they have not yet been upgraded to digital.
avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 28, 2007 06:25PM
RobE wrote:

> I personally prefer to get tri-mode phones that support the old
> analog standard.

That's one of the reasons haven't replace my old Nokia.

> Often rural areas still have analog service
> where they have not yet been upgraded to digital.

Digital is not always an upgrade in those areas. Analog has a larger range and needs fewer cells.

avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
August 28, 2007 07:07PM
yep, when i had an analog cell phone, i could use in the Valley all the time. in fact, once when i was a top of Nevada Falls, i called home and it was clear as a bell.
Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
September 15, 2007 03:22AM
I too had my mom's old analog verizon cell phone, and it worked all over the Tuolumne Meadows camground and road, and through most of the open road areas.

My personal Sprint-Nextel phone didn't work at all in the high country from Yosemite creek to Mammoth Lakes. Quite disappointing.
avatar Re: Cell phone coverage in Tuolumne Meadows area
September 15, 2007 07:05AM
teneya1969 wrote:

> My personal Sprint-Nextel phone didn't work at all in the high
> country from Yosemite creek to Mammoth Lakes. Quite
> disappointing.

Sprint has never been know for coverage.

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