Fariba and I canoe’ed into Big Salmon Lake for a brief 4-day camping trip. We’re working on our packing skills and I think we did a pretty good job this time around. We used pretty much everything we brought with us.
We brought cornish pasties individually wrapped in aluminium foil in the cooler for our first night and they were awesome! We had reconstituted bart chilli on the 2nd night and reconstituted lasagna on the 3rd night. Breakfast was a tried and true favorite; Outrageous Outback Oatmeal with either blueberries or strawberries. Lunch was nutella on pitta bread stuffed with banana slices. And snacks of course. Yum!! We left with only a couple of pita breads and a handful or emergency cliff bars so we got the amount of food just right.
Still, you always learn something and we did learn a few things. A saw and axe to cut better deadwood and a bigger tarp and more rope so we can completely enclose the tent and the picnic table will definitely be added on our next trip.
We canoe’ed in to cluster 4 on big salmon lake.
The weather was perfect. Hot and sunny all weekend. A line of thunderstorms passed through on Sunday evening but we only saw a light rain shower, enough to bring out twice the number of fireflies that came out on Saturday night… nice! It also rained on and off throughout the night on Monday night but it started long after we were asleep and the sun came out at breakfast time so the tent cover toasted dry by the time we packed up.
Eastern garter snakes on the trails, an American bullfrog which walked through our campsite, the ubiquitous Eastern chipmunks cavorting in the bush, a beaver grinding it’s nocturnal way through the foliage at the side of the campsite and a pair of loons teaching their kid how to swim.
I brought along my Elecraft KX3, with my Heil BM-5 microphone, KXPD1 paddles (recently upgraded), two A123 battery packs, and a few antenna options. When we arrived at the site, Fariba pointed out a tall jack pine right behind the campfire bench… perfect! I threw a weighted line over a tree limb at ~50ft and pulled up my 84′ wire. When I pulled it back down the other side, the wire snapped and I had to restart less ~5′ wire.
I threw the 17′ counterpoise wire down into the lake. On Monday night a beaver was working its way along the bank munching on foliage and it gnawed right through the wire causing me to have to re-tune … nevertheless the antenna worked really well. It’s not often that I can get it up that high.
Cognizant of the peace and tranquility of the campsite I opted to operate CW on the first night. I fiddled with the keyer to attempt to resolve bad contacts and it was improved but I was still having issues from time to time.
There was a line of thunderstorms heading through the area generating ridiculous amounts of static on all bands but especially on 80m/40m.
Thanks to the awesome Noise Reduction (NR) and Noise Blanker (NB) functions of the KX3 as well as the super sharp filters, I was able to complete CW QSOs easily with NG7IL Gil in Utah and Gary AB0BM in Indiana.
The 20m band was full of exotic DX stations each night, and open well into the night. Among the more exotic stations I heard were Kuwait, Dubai, South Africa and a couple of different countries in Africa.
On Sunday evening the campsites around us were less busy so I decided to give SSB a whirl.
Rui CS8ABF gave me a solid 5×7 report on SSB, I was very happy with that signal report! I also made contact with Craig KP2/VE3OP in the US Virgin Isles, he had read my blog in the past so he was able to put a face to the callsign, that was pretty cool. Craig also gave me a 5×7 report. The antenna was working!
On Monday morning, John VE3OMA in Picton was kind enough to relay me into the ONTARS net control Ian VA3IC and provide a weather update. The forecast 30-40% rain overnight did happen but it was a brief rainshower.
Monday evening saw me checking into the Laurentian 80m net and I received a good signal report from John VE3VGI. Later in the evening I also made contact with VE3MPM up in his cottage in VE2, that was on the 3730 net run by Ray KC1MR. I heard Bob VA3QV check in but his signal was barely readable with all the lightning noise and I don’t think we would have been able to make contact with each other.
Up on 20m SSB and I worked a special event station II5YOTA (Youngsters On The Air) in Italy. The 17 year old op was handling traffic like a pro!
I also had a pleasant chat with Mats SM7KOM in Ahus, Sweden. Mats was at his vacation QTH. Mats was driving 200W into a 5/8-wave dipole.
73 until my next adventure
Here is a Tom Thompson moment captured by Fariba: