Monday, July 10, 2006

Indian Fire Lookout in Central Oregon
July 6, 2006

While out in Oregon visiting family, I occasionally break away to explore some central Oregon Cascade Mountain “vista” areas that are also ideal locations for QRP radio! Most firetower locations are chosen for their 360-degree commanding view for obvious reasons. Indian Fire Tower has been decommissioned from active use during the fire danger months and the Forest Service makes it available for “rent” at $40 per night. This tower is about 50 miles east of Eugene at 5,400’ and on a “pinnacle” overlooking terrain that is west of the Three Sisters Mountains (each over 10,000') in central Oregon

I arrived about 8am and quickly set up a dipole center supported from the 30’ high firetower and the ends supported by nearby trees. Unfortunately, the weather was warm (low 50’s) but the mountain was encased in clouds. The light mist wasn’t heavy enough to “rain” but certainly the humidity was 100 percent! To the east there is a 500-800 foot drop off (according to the topo maps!) so my 5w Elecraft K1 signal was enhanced! My first 20m qso was with a “local” in Salem. I had a previous qso with Vern, AA7VW, from the AT in NJ so it was a small world. This time my signal was a good 579 and we had an enjoyable qso. The previous AT qso was a real challenge for Vern due to my weak signal and QRN.

This was a great location! I worked a number of guys in Nevada, Colorado, and Missouri before having to pack up and get back to Eugene. Everyone complimented the “strong” QRP signal! Just what every QRP operator wants to hear!! I plan to revisit this site in August, perhaps for a campover and more QRP field operating. And certainly I had thoughts that this would be an IDEAL Field Day site!! Hhmmmm….more planning and opportunites!!

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