SOTANA, just may help

Summits On The Air, aka SOTA, has been growing in popularity among the amateur radio community in recent years, and I’ve had several posts here in recent months that deal with low-power radio and SOTA.  See the recent article by Bob, KØNR, posted on his blog –The KØNR Radio Site, describing a recent SOTA ‘activation.’

As described, Bob and Alice ‘activated’ the summit by broadcasting/transmitting from the summit to followers below who were ‘chasing’ them (actually their radio signal), and then exchanging some basic information in the process (call sign, location, signal report, power being used, etc.) Some SOTA climbs/activations are relatively simple like this one, others require a bit more climbing and hiking. In the end, all SOTA activity is fun and challenging -mentally and physically, and some even say it’s ‘addictive.’

Many of my long time hiking and backpacking friends are not involved with amateur radio, and are somewhat puzzled with my new interest and involvement as a Ham Radio operator. I’ve gone from miles-hiked per hr. to radio-miles traveled per watt! They know I love backpacking in the high country, and I know they would like this SOTA action if they only gave it a try. But I have to admit, sometimes I do wonder about my new-found interest/hobby, and the time and money it consumes. Recently a friend told me about a new product he thought I should check out –SOTANA.

 

SOTANA ad

SOTANA advertisement, courtesy Bob KØNR

 

It sure sounds interesting. And there’s no warnings about associated blurred vision, headaches, diarrhea or constipation –Hmm! …just may help! Good for the body and soul!

Ya’all have fun in Dayton/Xenia!  [The Annual Hamfest with new product announcements, classroom sessions and a big amateur radio gathering -for you non-radio folks reading 😉 ]

73, de Mike, KEØGZT

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Minnehaha Creek, the Falls and the Park

The other day I hiked an urban section of Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis.

Minnehaha Creek is a 22 mile tributary of the Mississippi River in Minnesota. It flows from Gray’s Bay on Lake Minnetonka to Minnehaha Falls in Minnehaha Park, then a couple more miles from the Falls to the River. A dam at Gray’s Bay is used primarily to regulate lake levels in Lake Minnetonka and secondly to regulate water levels in the Creek -it can get hectic during spring melts when lake levels are high. This adjustable map shows Lake Minnetonka and the route of Minnehaha Creek to the Mississippi River -just drill down a couple of clicks for the added detail.

Lake Minnetonka is is over 14,000 acres in size and is the largest lake in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. It is popular for fishing, swimming and boating during the summer, and ice-fishing, snowshoeing, x-country skiing and ice sailing in winter.

Minnehaha Creek  flows through several western Twin Cities suburbs, including Minnetonka, Hopkins, Saint Louis Park, and Edina, and the city of Minneapolis. It is lightly fished during the summer and is well-known for canoeing and kayaking. It is hiked during the summer and snowshoed in the winter. Hiking along the Creek can be difficult since it passes through both public and private property. Numerous foot bridges and roadways cross the Creek as it moves through suburban and urban neighborhoods, a golf-course and numerous city parks along the route.

I hiked along the Creek from mile 11 in Edina, eastward through Minneapolis, into Minnehaha Park, where I visited the Falls and hiked below the Falls, along the Creek downstream to the Mississippi River- a hike I haven’t done in well over thirty years. After completing the hike I treated myself to a delicious fish sandwich, coleslaw and a craft-brew in the Park Pavilion. It was a great day, sunny and about 65 degrees! The following photos will give you an idea of the beauty available to residents and visitors to this ‘wilderness’ in the city, including some neighborhood parks along the route. I covered about 11 miles total, just the eastern half of the Creek -not the western section beginning at Lake Minnetonka.

 

Dam and small falls

Dam and small falls on Minnehaha Creek, Edina, MN. The former site of Edina Mill, one of six located along the Creek between Lake Minnetonka and the Mississippi River.

 

Edina Mill was one of three located in the immediate area. The areas early history was defined by these mills built on the wild and rushing Minnehaha Creek. Local farmers brought their grains to these local mills located along the Creek. The mills supplied Union troops during the Civil War. Today these old mill sites are just historic landmarks, surrounded by million dollar+ homes and golf courses.

 

Small lake formed behind the dam at Edina Mill

Small lake formed along the Creek behind the dam at Edina Mill, circa 1890s

 

Bridge and roadway crossing in former Mill area

Bridge and roadway crossing in former Mill area

 

Utley Park, Edina, MN

Minnehaha Creek, Canoe Landing in Utley Park, Edina, MN

 

Minnehaha Creek, Edina, MN

Minnehaha Creek, Utley Park, Edina, MN

 

Woodale Ave bridge near 50th St in Edina

Woodale Ave bridge near 50th St in Edina

 

The Creek  near 50th St. and Woodale Ave. is  adjacent to the posh Edina Country Club and some very exclusive neighborhoods. Kids can often be seen fishing and canoeing along this section of the Creek, while families picnic in nearby Utley Park.

 

Edina Veterans Memorial (1)

Edina Veterans Memorial (1) along Minnehaha Creek, in Utley Park

 

Edina Veterans Memorial (2)

Edina Veterans Memorial (2) along Minnehaha Creek

 

Wetland-section of Minnehaha Creek

Backwater, wetland-section of Minnehaha Creek, Edina, MN

 

Wetland-section of Minnehaha Creek

Wetland-section of Minnehaha Creek

 

Calm waters drop into the rapids

Calm waters drop into the narrow rapids

 

Minnehaha Creek, Minneapolis, MN (1)

Minnehaha Creek, Minneapolis, MN (1)

 

Minnehaha Creek, Minneapolis, MN (2)

Minnehaha Creek, Minneapolis, MN (2)

 

Minnehaha Creek, Minneapolis, MN (3)

Minnehaha Creek, Minneapolis, MN (3)

 

The Parkway runs along Minnehaha Creek

The Parkway runs along Minnehaha Creek

 

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is responsible for maintaining the city parks, city lakes, an expansive system of walkways and bike ways, lake and river parkways, public ball parks and gyms in the neighborhoods.

 

Typical city street that passes high over the Creek below

Typical city street that passes high over the Creek, 100 yds N. of the library, in the Creek valley below.

 

The Washburn Community Library is located on Lyndale Ave So in Minneapolis, just a block from Minnehaha Creek and the Parkway. Minneapolis has an impressive system of neighborhood/community libraries scattered throughout the city.

 

View from a foot bridge/bike trail, Minneapolis

View from a foot bridge/bike trail, Minneapolis

 

Walkway/bikeway follows Minnehaha Creek through South Minneapolis

Walkway/bikeway follows Minnehaha Creek through South Minneapolis

 

The Parkway along Minnehaha Creek, near Lake Hiawatha, Minneapolis

The Parkway along Minnehaha Creek, near Lake Hiawatha, Minneapolis

 

This view is of Lake Nokomis near the Park/Community Building and it’s small parking lot. The sidewalks and bike trails can be seen going around the lake. Minnehaha Parkway is just behind us, and across the Parkway is the smaller Lake Hiawatha and a golf course owned by the Park Board.

Lots of pine and deciduous trees fill Minneapolis Parks and parkways throughout the city. The Ground Rounds Bike Trail system links Parks, bike and pedestrian trails, and city lakes throughout Minneapolis.

Minnehaha Creek continues flowing and enters Minnehaha Park where the Falls are located. Below the Falls, the Creek flows about a mile further where it enters the Mississippi River. The Veterans Hospital and Fort Snelling are nearby.

 

Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis, MN

Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis, MN

 

Looking upstream, below the Falls

Looking upstream, below the Falls

 

View upstream from foot bridge below the Falls

View upstream from foot bridge below the Falls

 

The crickets were deafening along this section of the Creek. The Creek valley walls rise a couple hundred feet and must contain the sounds of the water and the crickets – I’ve never heard anything like it before… so loud!

 

Trail heading toward the Mississippi River

Minnehaha Creek below the falls, heading E. toward the Mississippi River

 

Walkway through a stretch of lowlands

Walkway through a stretch of lowlands

 

This elevated walkway spans about 100 yds of seasonal wetlands helping keep your feet dry.  Note the blue blaze on the tree, marking the trail for those seeking reassurance! And of course the Creek is also nearby -tough to get lost on this section of trail!

 

Creek splits to flow around island

Creek splits to flow around island

 

Minnehaha Creek enters Mississippi River from the right

Minnehaha Creek enters Mississippi River from the right

 

Ford Highbridge

Ford Highbridge crosses the Mississippi, with Lock and Dam below

 

Looking upstream on the Mississippi River near where Minnehaha Creek enters the River, the Ford Highbridge can be seen spanning the River. The Lock and Dam can be seen below the bridge. The Lock and Dam facilitates river traffic by raising and lowering the water level, allowing barge traffic as well as recreational boats to continue their upstream or downstream travel.

From here I returned up the opposite side of Minnehaha Creek, back to the Falls.

 

Following Creek back upstream to the Falls

Following Creek back upstream to the Falls

 

View up at Ford Highbridge, from Minnehaha Creek below

View up at Ford Highbridge, from Minnehaha Creek below

 

Pair of Canadian Geese (1)

Pair of Canadian Geese on island, one always staying vigilant for predators

 

Pair of Canadian Geese (2)

Pair of Canadian Geese on island below the Falls

 

View of the Falls from opposite side of Minnehaha Creek

View of the Falls from opposite side of Minnehaha Creek

 

Sea Salt restaurant at Minnehaha Park Pavilion

Outdoor seating, Sea Salt restaurant at Minnehaha Park Pavilion

 

Indoors, Sea Salt restaurant

Indoors, Sea Salt restaurant at Minnehaha Park Pavilion

 

Historic Minnehaha Depot, SE Minneapolis

Historic Minnehaha Depot, SE Minneapolis

 

Depot historic plaque

Minnehaha Depot plaque-a bit of history!

 

I hiked this on a Monday afternoon in early May, which accounts for the small crowds on the trails, near the Falls, and throughout Minnehaha Park. It would be a zoo here on the 4th of July or other similar holiday. Summer weekends would also prove very crowded.

Being retired, I generally do my best to avoid the crowds, especially when hiking; be it in Minnehaha Park, or in Glacier NP out in Montana. I’ll soon be heading up to Superior Hiking Trail and that too will be a mid-week trip. I try and save my weekends for family backyard BBQ, yardwork, and the occasional extended backpacking trips that require over a week to complete. I’m not anti-social, I just like to enjoy ‘the wilderness’ in some degree of peace and quiet. And I don’t like crowded trails.  I’m sure you understand.

And to those who stumble upon me out on a quiet trail, maybe up along a scenic ridgeline somewhere, only to hear me shouting CQ, CQ, CQ into a radio… I apologize! 😉

73  de Mike, KEØGZT

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Amateur Radio and Emergency Comms

First things first. Spring has arrived in the Twin Cities; at long last! I’ve got my first backpacking trip of the season roughed out. I’m looking forward to getting out on the Superior Hiking Trail with my Yaesu 817ND, a LDG 817 tuner, and a homebrew 10-40m random wire antenna using 18 ga speaker wire, a 4:1 Unun, and a counterpoise ground wire -see design by offgridham. I’ll follow-up with my results in a future post.

 

Heading for the SHT with my 817ND

Heading for the SHT with my 817ND

 

Planning the SHT trip is fun, but doing it will be GREAT. Also working out the details of hiking from Crawford Notch to Pinkham Notch along the Appalachian Trail (AT) up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire – The Presidential Range. And that’s just the start of this hiking season! Gotta get out west too!

 

Studying and planning a couple get-aways

Studying and planning a couple of get-aways is always fun!

 

I’ll also get the grand-kids out on the trail this summer. More than ever, I realize that you’ve gotta do it while you can do it. Live life to it’s fullest, and get out on the trail, out along the ridges and up on the mountain tops!

“CQ, CQ, CQ… This is KEØGZT, my handle is Mike, I’m QRP from the Section 13 dome along the SHT on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. Is anyone out there? CQ, CQ, CQ. This is KEØGZT, kilo, echo, zero, golf, zulu, tango. Over!

~~~~~

And now, the main event – Amateur Radio and Emergency Comms. I’ve mentioned my interest in emergency communications (and amateur radio) in past posts. I’ve also mentioned the common concern of amateur radio clubs across the country -how to grow the club membership and foster interest in the hobby -how to attract new folks to amateur radio in general, but young members in particular are sought after.  In fact, it was emergency communications that slowly drew me to amateur radio a couple of years ago. It seems to be a fairly common reason many folks are attracted to the the radio hobby. I’ve also noticed there seems to be a good presence of current/ex-military folks associated with amateur radio -that makes sense as well, speaking as ex-military myself.

I recently ran across a good article courtesy the ARRL ARES E-Letter, of April 19th. [For the non-radio folks, ARRL is the Amateur Radio Relay League – the national association for Amateur Radio. ARES is the Amateur Radio Emergency Services, which is organized and managed by ARRL’s Field Organization.]

Background -The mission of ARES is to provide communications assistance to local and regional government and relief agencies such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army and National Weather Service. ARES may also assist local and regional emergency management agencies or even the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) if normal communications systems fail.

The article, ‘Emergency Communications Driving Increase in Amateur Radio Operators,’ by James Careless, appeared in the April 11th issue of Emergency Management magazine.  In the article, ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, notes that 2016 was the third year in a row that the total number of new licenses exceeded 30,000. Other ARRL managers go on to reference ARES, and describe emergency communications as being a gateway into amateur radio. It is an interesting read.

I’ve met a few local radio operators in recent months who are associated with Minnesota ARES. I’ll look at joining the later part of this year. My first priority is upgrading my FCC license to General, and getting more on-air experience, thus improving my operational proficiency. My second priority is hiking and backpacking this season. My third priority is ARES!

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If you’re interested in amateur radio, but not an ARRL member, Join ARRL today!  ARRL membership includes QST, Amateur Radio’s popular and informative journal, delivered to your mailbox each month. The ARES E-Letter is published on the third Wednesday of each month. ARRL members may subscribe at no cost.

~~~~~

73, de Mike, KEØGZT

 

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