Hiking and Radio… getting it done!
It’s getting to be that time of year again. Like so many others, I’ve got the regular yard maintenance, household repairs and maintenance type activities to complete before the snow arrives. But I’ve also got a few special activities, goals if you will, that have evaded me for one reason or another over the past year. This must cease, I’m taking the bull by the horns… I’ve gotta get it done!
This blog is billed as ‘a back-country hiking and radio adventures blog.’ I’ve been a ‘backpacker’ for years -hiking in the southwest, the northeast, Alaska and in the Canadian Rockies. However, I’m relatively new to amateur radio – receiving my FCC technician license in Dec., 2015.
I love hiking and backpacking, but each year as I get older, the climbs seem to get steeper. Low-power, or ‘QRP,’ amateur radio is of interest because I can carry a light-weight radio/antenna/battery pk. into the back-country or up on a mountain top anywhere, and communicate regionally or internationally, without cell towers or the Internet. It represents a new area of interest for me -new technology, new challenges that I can integrate with hiking and backpacking, even as the climbs begin to level off in coming years. Amateur radio represents a new, as well as a transition activity for me. But the radio hobby hasn’t been easy for me, time-wise. It’s a common problem, especially with new amateur radio operators. The ultimate limiting factor is time! I know, everyone is busy… yada, yada.
I recent years, since I’ve retired, it’s just been too easy -as cooler fall weather moves in, the family vacations come to an end, and the kids go back to school -to get a couple of buddies together and head west (usually) for a week or two (or maybe four or five) to do some backpacking in higher elevations… maybe in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, the Sierras, or elsewhere. This summer, I hiked the Presidential Range along the Appalachian Trail in NH in early July, and took a couple grandsons hiking and camping in late July/mid August. It’s been a busy summer. I had a handheld radio along on one trip but didn’t devote adequate time to the endeavor.
This year, those special activities, goals if you will, are placing limits on my ability to travel the trails in higher elevations with the big cats, big horns and the occasional grizzly bear(s). I recently turned down the opportunity to climb King’s Peak out in the Uinta Mountains of NE Utah. King’s Peak is 13,500′ and we’d start the climb at about 9,500.’ I bought and reviewed the topo map, checked the Internet and found what looked to be a great hike to the highest peak in Utah. It would only require 3 days, trailhead-to-trailhead.
The guy I would be hiking with (a friend of a friend) had already planned the trip. He already had an airline ticket to Salt Lake City, and a car rented -he was going with or without me! My first question to him… if he’d done this kind of climbing before -what was his experience level? I found that he’d already climbed 6-7 of the highest peaks, in 6-7 states out west, including Denali in AK, and Whitney in CA. His quest was to hike the highest peaks in all fifty states. He sounded like he was good to go!
However, I’d have to acclimate to the higher elevation before attempting to climb King’s Peak. I haven’t been above 10,000′ for any extended periods in a few years. I planned to drive out through Wyoming -stopping to camp and hike for two days/nights in the Bighorns, just west of Sheridan, and again for 2-3 days/nights in the Wind River Range, west of Lander. That would take me a week, including a few days at 5-7,000′ along the way, while providing about 4-5 days and nights at or above 9-12,000+’ -which should make me good to go in Utah! Then about a week to drive home after the climb. And, I’d likely make one or two additional stops on the way home. Thus, this trip would require the better part of three weeks, possibly longer. I’d have to depart on this journey well before Labor Day!
It sure sounded like fun! It also seemed like a significant diversion of my time away from achieving those special activities, goals if you will. I had to ask myself, seriously -if not now, when would I complete those evasive activities/goals?
After thinking about it for several days, I decided to pass on this ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ -climbing King’s Peak! Included in my evaluation, I considered all the ‘opportunities of a lifetime,’ which usually translate to ‘hikes of a lifetime,’ I’ve already completed, and it made me feel a bit better about the decision. There’s always another hike/backpacking trip… I’m not that old yet! But I’m also old enough to know… you just never know. 😉
So what are these special activities, goals if you will? Actually there are quite a few, but two are of paramount importance to me: 1.) studying for, and passing the exam, for the next level amateur radio license -the general license, by October 31st this year. And, 2) installing the AlphaDelta, DXEE Multi-Band 40m/20m/15m/10m parallel dipole 40′ antenna in my attic by Nov. 15th this year, including all necessary grounding and electrical work. Now, that may not sound like much, but remember, I’m no radio whiz-kid.
I built a couple of wire antennas earlier this summer (a long wire and a dipole, both for 10-40m) for comparison purposes, but I need my license upgrade to really use them. I’ve got the battery-powered, QRP multi-mode portable transceiver covering HF, VHF and UHF bands, and a couple different battery options for it. Both the antennas I built are designed to throw up into a tree, or use on a mast for support outdoors. It all fits in a pack, and weighs less than ten lbs. The AlphaDelta DXEE would be a permanent installation I could use year ’round, which is important in a place like MN.
In addition, I’ve got a good start integrating my ham shack into my office, although it’s still a bit overcrowded. I’ve been making progress, but too slowly! Hence my renewed emphasis on getting my basic radio-related activities/goals out of the way this fall.
There will be fewer blog posts over the next few months, and they will cover mostly my radio-related projects, those special activities, goals if you will! I may get a good hike in, time will tell. You’ll definitely be seeing some snow-shoeing posts this winter, possibly even with portable radio ops included.
In an effort to make amends to my hiking followers, I’ve included a new link to a great hiking blog in my Recommended section above, (TrailtoPeak -theadventurouspath.com). I started following it about a month ago, and it’s great. Sheri writes the blog from the Canmore/Banff area of Alberta, Canada. Here is the first of five recent posts covering hikes not far from Lake Louise -Enjoy!
Below are a couple of pictures from my earlier travels in Alberta and British Columbia. My photos don’t compare with Sheri’s, so I plan to head north again sometime soon . The adventurouspath blog is one heck of an aid in adventure planning N of the border!
And last, but not least… those special activities, goals if you will! I’m hanging on to the Kings Peak topo for next year -just in case!
My next post will hopefully cover preliminary aspects of the DXEE parallel dipole antenna installation, and other special activities, goals… KEØGZT, Clear!
73, de Mike, KEØGZT