Fighting mozzies and logging POTA hunters at Cap Touremente

One of our favorite national parks in the Côte-de-Beaupré region of Québec, Canada is Cap Tourenemente National Wildlife Area.

When my family spends the summer in Québec we typically visit it several times, especially since it’s never far from where we stay.

Thing is, each entry into Cap Touremente costs about $20 or so (unless we purchase an annual pass), but it’s worth it for the hikes, and the scenery. We also like supporting parks with our entry fee.

For a POTA activation–? I don’t need access to the main park, especially if the family isn’t with me. I did a little research and found a spot within the NWA on the “free” side of the park gates.

The spot is a basically a wildlife viewing area with a small grass road that is flanked by marsh land near the town of Saint-Joachim.

Of course…

Marsh Land = Mozzies

Before heading to Cap Touremente on Monday, June 27, 2022, I sprayed a “healthy” dose of insect repellent on my clothing. Having been to this spot several times in the past, I knew what awaited me: mosquitos. Lots of them.

We have mosquitos back home in the mountains of North Carolina, of course, but not in the quantities you find in marshy areas along the north shore of the St-Lawrence.

That Monday, though, it was very gusty. In the morning we had heavy rains, then a front pushed that through in the early afternoon opening up clear skies and very gusty winds. Mosquitos don’t do well in the wind, so my hope was the wind would offer an extra layer of protection.

Spoiler alert: The winds did help to some degree, but Canadian mosquitoes are heartier than our Carolina varieties.

Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area (VE-0012)

I had been on the air earlier in the day and conditions were truly in the dumps–at least, at my latitude. I knew it wouldn’t be a quick activation, so I allowed myself extra time to complete the activation.

On the 10 minute drive to the site, I decided to pair the Elecraft KX2 with the TufetIn 9:1 random wire antenna that I configured with a 31′ radiator and a 17′ counterpoise. I found this combo very effective in the past and I love the frequency agility of random wire antennas especially when the bands are rough and it becomes a game of band hopping to see what portions might be open.

Gear:

Set up was super quick. I launched a line into a tree branch overhanging the grass path/road and hoisted the radiator into a vertical orientation.

Note that in my real-time, real-life activation video below, I spend a bit of time showing how I configured the TufetIn random wire antenna.

I unfolded my camping chair and placed it on the ground. I sat in the chair to prepare my logs and quickly discovered that the ground was super soft after all of the rain. One of the back legs buried itself under my weight. When I pulled the chair out of the soft ground, one of the rubber feet popped off. I had to sort of hand dig it out of the ground. If you watch my video, you’ll probably notice that my hands aren’t exactly clean! Now you know why.

On the air

I started calling CQ POTA in CW on 20 meters and worked K0AWG, EA7JXZ, K3MRK, AE2TT, and EA1AF all within about seven minutes. An excellent and promising start!

I then moved up to 30 meters and worked VE3LDT, WB8JAY, and
NT2A within about five minutes.

Then a dry spell. After about 15 minutes of no calls at all, I finally logged three more stations on 17 meters: AA0Z, DM3KP, and EC1R.  I was very pleased to work both Germany and Spain with 5 watts!

With 11 logged (and 10 required), I had validated the activation at this point.

Next, I did a wee bit of hunting and logged K4NYM on 20 meters and K8UT on 40 meters. What fun!

I had enough flexibility in my schedule that I was able to fit in a bit more time, so I decided to see what activity I might find on the SSB portion of the 20 meter band.

I did not bring my KX2 hand mic on this trip, so I had to make do with the internal mic which worked a charm. I had enough juice left in the KX2 internal battery to run a full 10 watts, so I pumped up the power and started calling CQ POTA. I was very pleased to log EC1R, AJ5C, EA1FIC, EA7JXZ, and EA1GIB.

Obviously, there was a path open to Europe and I was very pleased to work so many stations in Spain.

What fun!

QSO Map

Here’s how well the KX2 and TufetIn random wire pair performed that fine afternoon at Cap Tourement:

Activation video

Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation.  As with all of my videos, there are no ads and I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. Funny because I thought I’d be filming a very short activation, but it turned out to be a rather lengthy one!

Click here to view on YouTube.

At the end of the day, the mosquito situation wasn’t too bad. No doubt, the insect repellent played a large role in protecting me because the winds seemed to have little effect on them. I didn’t have to swat much, but mozzies were constantly flying around me. I did get a couple of bites above my ankles, but hey…I lived to tell the tale!

Those of you who live in areas with lots of mosquitos are probably laughing at me right now. That’s okay…laugh all you want. I’ll be the first to admit that mosquitoes (and ticks) bother me more than snakes and bears. 🙂 I suppose it’s all about what you get used to, right?

I’m curious what beasties you have to avoid when playing radio in the field–please comment!

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on my first POTA activation of Cap Touremente! This did turn out to be a lengthy activation with not a lot of activity–but it was amazing fun to work DX in both CW and SSB!

Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.

In fact, your support is what has made this extended family road trip to Canada possible. I apply any funds above and beyond the costs of running the website, producing the videos, and purchasing review equipment, to our family travel fund. This not only gives me an opportunity to play radio well outside my home area, but my family also gets to benefit from the work I put into producing activation videos and content on QRPer.com.

Thank you so very much!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (VY2SW / K4SWL)

Bonus Photos!

On the walk back to the car, I took a few shots across the marsh and at the wildlife viewing area. Enjoy:

dit dit!

22 thoughts on “Fighting mozzies and logging POTA hunters at Cap Touremente”

  1. Wonderful coverage of a Canadian park. We used to camp in Canada on a regular basis including Forillon out on the tip of the Gaspe. Can hardly wait to get back now that the border is reopened.

    73 de Gil K4JST

  2. Excellent post, as usual. Quick question – do you use specific freqs for POTA (or SOTA)? Also, do you tend to “set up” your activations by alerting chasers or just start sending CQ cold? It seems to me that arranging a pool of listeners ahead of time takes the mystery out of it. Might as well go on FT8, have a nap and wake up to your list of contacts complete…😴

    For me at least, I still get a jolt of thrill when stumbling across a contact on flea power over vast distances. Why de-risk QRP radio?

    Keep ’em coming! 73, Scott VO1DR

    1. Great questions, Scott!

      There are no formal POTA frequencies, but there are some that I see in the spots with a lot of frequency. I use a few of them in CW: 7063, 10113, and 14061/14062 are all pretty popular.

      They key to getting your ten contacts needed for a valid activation is making sure you’ve been spotted (by yourself or a friend) on the POTA Spots page: https://pota.app/#/

      As I CW op, I always schedule the activation, too. That way if there’s no cell service, the POTA Spot page will auto spot me with Reverse Beacon Network info. A super valuable tool!

      Without a spot, it can take ages to complete an activation. Same with Summits On The Air.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

  3. Careful on your repellant.some will take the shine off your nice kit.
    I use a brand called Autan in a pump spray,no nasty solvents.
    Cheers 73

    1. it’s an oil based spray, not exactly what you’d like to spray on your outdoor garment, it’s ok on (your) skin, though and usually the effect lasts several hours… although you’ll then want a good shower 🙂

      1. Hi,
        You’ve obviously used it.
        I’ve had no problems spraying on clothes or skin..lasted very well when I used to shoot in the Highlands of Scotland.
        Cheers 73

  4. I have camped at Forillon National Park and fished in the Gaspésie, even been to the Saguenay but not to the region you are exploring. Time to do more traveling in my own country!
    On to my point- you frequently use the TufteIn QRP Random wire for activations. Have you used it with your FT-817 and if so, how does it perform? I’m looking for a lightweight, portable, wire antenna to pair with my FT-818 for POTA (SSB & FT8) and wondered about your experience with that match up, or any other recommendations. Thx.

  5. We have the Scottish Midge which I guess from your time in the UK you’re aware of. I stupidly wore shorts to the fairy pools on Skye and counted 17 bites on my legs.

    However ticks are the worst, we have Lyme disease endemic in their population. Know a few people who’ve had lyme disease, luckily its been picked up early.

    I find a good number on the dog, as far as I’m aware I’ve never been bitten but am guessing that means I have but not been aware! Eek!

    I once stayed up in Northern Sweden and the mozzies were huge but were easier to shoo away!

  6. Fun. As a Canadian canoeist I have done battle with the beasties.. and I CANNOT stand repellents of any type it seems.. particularly with DEET. So I suffer mostly.
    Did a trip right down a old voyageur route one time that was memorable I can say! I try to keep my canoes trips in the later part of the season for that reason.
    When we were bicycle touring in France we were in the area south of Arles (where Van Gogh settled for a while) in the region called Camargue. Flamingos and salt marshes.
    When we got to the place we stayed overnight there the hostess explained to us about the screen doors and windows due to the mosquitoes (=marsh lands). We laughed and said that being from Canada we were quite familiar with screens!
    Fortunately the strong winds – mistral – in that area which also made biking ‘fun’ when going north also drove the ‘moustique’ at bay mostly.

  7. Nice write up. I was frightened initially for your equipment, particularly the rig screen with that bug spray. Years ago when I was in Michigan doing field work, we wondered why our fingers would be yellow at the end if the day. It was the DEET repellent we used; it took the paint right off the pencil. Yuck.

    Salt marsh mosquitoes can eat any other mosquitoes for lunch.

    73,
    Susan, WB2UQP
    Maine (Mosquito Land)

  8. Dang it Thomas, I hope you get a commision of of sales ‘cuz you just cost me some more money. I just ordered the TufteIn QRP Random wire. I got the 35′ radiator with 17’ counterpoise.

    I got it to add to my 705 kit I m building out and because I wanted to see how he built it. I also wanted that winder to use as a template for cutting some of my own.

    That is a beautiful park and I am glad that you are enjoying your family vacation. Here in NE FL it is either too hot or storming (with heavy lightning) most days this time of the year.

    Been disassembling my shack and boxing up the QRO radios for the move to NC. I am strictly QRP now with the IC-705 as the only HF radio not packed and I will keep using it to the move. It will be the only radio traveling in it go-bag.

    W4MKH
    https://w4mkh-qrp.com/

    1. Ha ha ha!

      I get no sales commissions, but I can say you’ve chosen well. It’s a well-designed lightweight package. You’ll see that I use it quite heavily in upcoming videos and reports.

      Good luck with your pending move! Moving is one of my least favorite things to do in the world, so I don’t envy you. :). I’m trying to downsize now myself. We’ve no plans to move, but I just need to clear some stuff out I’m not using so when the day comes that we do move, it’ll be somewhat easier. In theory!

      Cheers,
      Thomas
      K4SWL

      1. Good luck with that theory.

        We should have moved a month ago and our renters have already moved in (we are renting our JAX house to my son and his GF) so it is kind of hectic around here. Just waiting for the XYL’s kidneys to improve so that she can get off of dialysis.

        The 17′ wire on that antennas is listed as a counterpoise so I am assuming that you keep it elevated. So far I haven’t seen anything about how you use it in your videos.

        You have covered choosing a field radio in the past as well as how you go about preparing for a POTA activation. I would love to see you do a post on how you select an antenna for an activation. Is there an antenna that you always have with you? or an antenna type (EFRW or EFHW etc ) that you always have in the bag?

        W4MKH
        https://w4mkh-qrp.com/

        1. here are some ways of deploying and endfed with a counterpoise

          horizontal/sloping with the feedpoint placed as high as possible and the counterpoise also placed horizontal, sloping or just dropping vertically down

          inverted L with the feedpoint low and the counterpoise just lying on ground

          vertical (ok almost) and again with the counterpoise (or counterpoises) laid on ground or slightly raised like radials

          inverted V, again with the counterpoise on ground

          it then depends from the available space and supports, generally the vertical and inverted L offer lower takeoff angles, while the inverted V is fine for NVIS, in all these cases there’s to consider the fact that having the feedpoint near to ground increases losses, the horizontal/sloping setup offers good radiation and lower losses but may be more difficult to setup

          1. Thanks Andrew. I’ll study that link.

            The reason I like random wire (they are not truly random) antennas is that I can quickly switch bands and still have a decent antenna. My shack antennas is a ZS6BKW mounted st 43′ as an inverted V. I also built my jpole and the ground plane antenna I use for VHF/UHF. I love designing and building antennas.

            I have a WRC mini. several EFRW and EFHW antennas along with hamsticks for each of the bands. I love options.

            W4MKH
            https://w4mkh-qrp.com/

  9. We have found Thermacell a non deet repellent effective when we are at a park. Available at your local Canadian Tire if you are still in Canada. VO1OK

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