As you read in day 1 of this story, I landed up in Montana opportunistically. The plan for day 2 was to say goodbye to our visiting family, then make our way north from Kalispell, MT via Eureka, MT and head for home. We’d stop on the way to visit with friends and, of course do one more POTA activation.
After departing Kalispell we arrived at Lower Stillwater Lake, part of K-4848, at around 11am MT.
There is one picnic table near a boat launch and it was vacant so I got to work quickly and set up. I had brought along a lightweight kit consisting of my VE6VID EFHW, Elecraft AX-1, the KX3, a battery, a key, a paper logbook and some extra bits like carabiners, a bit of masonry string and a small mast that I landed up not using. With my wife and doggo along for the ride, I didn’t want to take too much time to set up and operate, so the natural choice would have been the Elecraft AX1 antenna, but with conditions being as soft as they were a day earlier, the resonant wire antenna seemed the better choice for the extra 5 minutes it would take to set up.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
In early August 2023 I was lucky to be able to activate parks in beautiful West Montana on such short notice.
As opportunity would have it, my brother Dan, AG7GM, and Sister-in-Law Val were at the tail end of visiting with us and wanted to do a drive on Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road as part of their return journey home. We had attempted this trip with them some years ago but were met with inclement weather and were turned around after landslides blocked the road. After an overnight stop in Kalispell for all of us, they would continue towards home and we would head back to ours.
The preparation involved plotting out which of the 9 parks I could tackle along the routes I would be travelling. I settled on K-0028, Glacier National Park and K-4848, Stillwater State Forest. But, still, my activations would need to be opportunistic in nature and involve a willing family allowing me to partake in one of my favourite activities.
Before you do this road trip, you need to understand that the Going-to-the-Sun Road is highly popular and the park restricts the number and type of vehicles that pass along it each day. You can find out more details about Going-to-the-Sun Road here. While their advance booking system granted me one vehicle pass, I needed two and was unsuccessful in the days before the actual trip to secure a second one. Luckily (there’s that word again) we arrived after 3pm when passes are not required at this time of year. I was absolutely stoked as I love driving on mountain roads!