I wrote this over a year ago, but never got around to posting it. I am not sure why. Perhaps I set it aside to look for a photograph for the header. Or, perhaps I simply forgot about it. Nonetheless, it is not a bad story so I think I will tell it.
This weekend was a study in contrasts. Saturday, a friend and I drove up to the activation zone of Prison Hill, at the south side of Carson City. The trail to the top is no challenge for the 4Runner and I’m not a hard driver.
So I had the luxury of computer logging, full output power from the KX3, a table to work from, and a nice chair. The antenna was a kit-built EFHW in inverted-L using a SOTAbeams 10m travel mast. It was a fun afternoon with a friend and my dog, although neither of them participated in the radio fun (the friend is licensed; the dog is not).
This morning I decided I had so much fun yesterday that I would do it again, this time Hot Springs Mountain. It was just doggo and me. I attempted an approach from the west side, but the last half-mile was a rough trail of scrabble and I did not think the 4Runner would traverse it.
So I drove around to the south side and up a sand wash. The sand had a little moisture from the last snow and I was able to stay on top of the sand by keeping up my speed.
I expected the sand ravine near the top and there it was. I was sure I could get down to the bottom of the ravine, but figured that’s where I would stay.
So, I got out my KX1 kit (shack in a small Pelican box), a bottle of water, a 3Ah LFP battery (gives just a little more output power from the little KX1 and will run forever), and the SOTAbeams mast.
Doggo has four-paw drive, but not so this old man. She sprinted back and forth urging me on while I trudged up the remaining quartile mile of trail, pausing now and again to catch my breath.
There was a cairn in the activation zone and I found a way to stabilize the mast against the cairn with a Voile strap I brought along, just in case. I stretched the wire I carry in the kit along the mast and threw the second bundle of wires I use for a counterpoise on the rocks.
The radio matched the antenna readily and the 40m noon net (7.2835MHz) NCO heard me. So I knew I had a working station.
Over the next hour and a half I worked 17 stations on 40m, 30m, and 20m, including a couple of summit-to-summit operators. Doggo sat patiently next to me, enjoying the sun and the view.
I was on 20m when the antenna was blown over by the wind a second time. It had come up near the end of my operation.
I finished landing the fish I had on the line and announced my QRT, followed by a post to the SOTAwatch portal. It only took me a few minutes to tear down and head back down the hill.
I should mention that I used the backup key for this activation. The key I had been using failed during the first part of my activation. Fortunately, I keep the factory key in the kit as a backup. It’s not my favorite key, but it is a working key.
The contrast in the two ops is striking. Saturday was what I’ll GLOTA (glam-SOTA), with all the luxuries one could want in the field. Today I earned my contacts the hard way — by humping up the last, steepest, part of the hill.
Both days were good. Today was better. I’m whupped!