Summer Vacation Mountain POTA
by Matt (W6CSN)
Our family regularly enjoys a summer vacation in the mountains. There is no shortage of mountains along the Pacific Coast, but if you refer to “The Mountains” around our house everybody knows you are talking about 5500 feet up the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada along Highway 4 near the town of Arnold.
Last year’s trip to “the mountains” was my first foray into portable QRP operating and I successfully hunted a few Parks On The Air stations. In the year since, I’ve become much more involved with (some would say addicted to) POTA, especially as an activator.
For the “base” operation of hunting other stations, I set up the FT-818 with an EFHW strung between the deck and some trees adjacent the nearby lake. The 26 ga polystealth wire antenna literally disappeared into the trees, the only giveaways being the 64:1 transformer floating in space off the deck rail and, more likely, the the bright orange arborist line used for the downhaul at the far end.
I made a few hunter QSOs during the morning hours from the cabin, but this location wasn’t hearing particularly well. Signals weren’t strong and I sent more than a few 229 reports. However, this “hunter mode”operation was secondary to my main objective of activating some new to me parks while on this trip.
On the first full day in the mountains we headed back down the hill a ways to visit Railtown State Historic Park in Jamestown, CA. After riding the excursion train and enjoying lunch by the roundhouse, I brought up the possibility of an activation. However, with the July heat well into the triple digits, the family wasn’t in the mood for dads radio obsession. Quite frankly, I wasn’t too excited about setting up the station in the heat, so it was an easy choice to put this one off for another time.
The next POTA activation opportunity came when we had made plans to head up for a day at Lake Alpine. We chose to go up to the lake around 10AM on Monday, hoping for smaller crowds. Also, we had plans to visit Calaveras Big Trees SP the following day.
This gave me an idea: I could make the short drive from the cabin up to Calaveras Big Trees (K-1134) in the morning while everyone was sleeping in and try to get the activation done before heading to Lake Alpine. This way the family visit to Big Trees wouldn’t be interrupted by dad playing radio. Continue reading Matt’s Summer Vacation Mountain POTA