Saturday, January 06, 2007

Camp Run-A-MOC 2007
January 5-7th

The weather was quite warm, almost balmy, for early January with temps in the mid-60’s. The forecast was for partly cloudy skies on Saturday with temps again in the 60’s. Much too warm for a bunch of Polar Bears!!

We started our hike up to the Catfish Fire Tower around 10 am on Saturday. It was about 1-1/2 miles with about a 300-400 ft elevation gain from the Mohican Outdoor Center (MOC) and our large, very comfortable “in-da-den” cabin. There were about 8 of us that hiked, spread out into two groups. The bottom portion of the trail was water-sogged due to recent rains and we navigated from rock stepping stone to the next for 200 yds or so. Before long we were at the top of the ridge overlooking the valley to the east. We were with Glen, NK1N, who was periodically videotaping this trip and later would produce a DVD of this Polar Bear outing.

We hiked north for another mile to the Catfish Firetower. It’s at a grand location with views east and west and 360-deg vistas from the cabin of the firetower located about 60’ above ground. I quickly assembled the W7EL FD two-element 20m phased beam made of ladderline amidst a lot of discussion among other Polar Bears. It’s a gain antenna, transforming my 5 watts to a radiated power pointing west of about 30 watts (8 dbi of gain). One end was tied to the tower at 50’ and the other to a distant tree at 30’. The wind was increasing so the climb up the tower was “invigorating” to say the least. The weather was improving with temps nearing the high 60’s. If you were out of the westerly wind, it was almost hot!

There were about four radio operations so everyone spread out along the ridge so as to not interfere with each other. At the Catfish site, there was a throng of day hikers constantly asking “what’s going on?” It’s always fun to talk about “Morse code and small radios” and generally people are always amazed and somewhat enthusiastic but it always takes away from actual operating time. However, I made a number of contacts with the best being AZ, CA, and Oregon. I even had a long QSO with an acquaintance in Oregon and it was fun to bring him up to date with my east coast activities. I broke from the activities and gave Glen a chance to plug in his KX1 and have some fun with the phased array.

We had planned to hike down the ridge before the 4:30 sunset for safety reasons so I started disassembling the phased array about 3 pm. In 30 minutes I was packed up and ready to go. We were to pickup John, NU3E, on the way back since he was operating south of us a quarter-mile or so. But John was nowhere to be seen as we hiked thru that area. The consensus was that “he must have started down the hill.” Later, we would find out that we left him up there when John walked out about 45 minutes later.

All in all, it was like a warm Spring day, not anything like a “normal” January outing! And a good time was had by all the Camp-Run-a-MOC attendees!