So Chris (N7CPM) and I both did our first Field Day together. It was fantastic. We setup camp not far from the area we planned, because it was perfect. We ended up on Cle Elum Point. A rocky cliff 4,000 feet about Cle Elum and I-90. Of course it was a place only the Jeep could go. Since we were dispersal camping we had to load everything including water for the three days we were there. So it combined two things I love, over-landing and Amateur Radio.
It took a bit longer that I hoped to load up the Jeep. Originally there were some open fields that I had looked at on Google Earth. However I wanted follow the road we were on just to see the view that I could tell was there from the topo map that I had. We stopped at the bottom of a steep jeep trail of the Forest Service road, and walked up to he top of the hill to see a spectacular view of the valley below. There was no doubt about it. This is where were going to camp. Forget all that planning on Google Earth. So we brought the Jeep up, unpacked and set up camp. The temperature was 100°!!
It was a bit windy up there, and you could tell the way the trees leaned that wind was a constant factor in one direction. So we used the Jeep as a wind break for the tent and the kitchen. Set up 3×6 costco folding table at the top in front of the jeep.
By this time it was getting late so we set up Chris’ buddy pole and left the G5RV long wire for the morning. By 9PM it had cooled to 72 degrees and the breeze was gentle. Using APRS, and calling out on 2 meter SSB. We looked for other HAMs in the area. This is how we met Tim. A guy that was in a 27 foot trailer somewhere to our south 10 miles or so in the woods. He was not plannign on participating in Field Day. He and his wife had been out in the woods for three weeks and were heading home to Bellingham the next morning. I was kind of envious of his retired free lifestyle.
Oh and just over at the next peak less than a 1/2 mile away was a array of microwave and cell tower antennas. Which meant I had a full bars and 4G service from AT&T.
Day 2 (Field Day)
So we had a breakfast of pancakes, bacon,and eggs and then got to work setting the G5rv long wire. With about 200′ of wire on each leg and 100′ in the air. Which was made easier with the pneumatic antenna launcher. Our friend Wayne (KE7OOM) made a improved version of the launcher we used the other week to put up the long wire antenna in Chris’s back yard. See post Helping my Neighbor Launch and Antenna. Wayne lent us this new launcher. It took about an hour to get the antenna strung up in the trees. Once again the temperatures were in the high 90°s. Thank goodness we brough the shelter. That made it somewhat bearable.
We finished just in time for the start of Field Day at 11AM. At first contacts were slow during the day. Sitting at that table looking over the valley and making contacts as far away as Wyoming was just an amazing fun thing to do.
Once evening hit and we moved to 80 Meters we suddenly found ourselves in pile ups. I have not updated my logs yet, however I estimate that I made a good 60 contacts that night. We finally shut off the radios at about midnight.
Field Day is a 24 hour event and starts at 1800 UTC (11AM PDT). Waking up at 6AM is easy for me, especially when camping. So after making some coffee I got back on the air with the sun rising over the valley. I ended up finding W7DK (our radio club) on 80 Meters, I managed a QRP (low power 5W or less) contact with a station in Nevada.
I also made contact with a radio club in Casper, WY. Which is significant in a lot of ways. Not only is my mothers family from the Casper area. It’s also where I was first introduced to amateur radio. By Earl Carroll. A friend of my grandfathers, Earl was a HAM and when I was 12 years old he tried so hard to get me involved in the hobby. Every summer when I visited my grandparents he would show me how the radio worked and let me help. Though his efforts did not bear immediate fruit, he did plant a seed that took almost a long time to grow. I would say he was the reason I became a HAM. He has long passed, and I feel sad that I will never have a QSO with him. I have been trying find his call sign by researching with family members and friends, and searching the FCC database for him. Nothing so far. Because if I could figure it out, I would apply for it as my call vanity sign.
It was a great trip, and Chris and I have a better idea of what it’s going to take to do the Salmon Run this September. It’s a contest to try and make a contact in each of Washington States 39 counties. Below is the gallery of my photos, most of you have seen them already on Facebook I’m sure. Also I’ll be getting some of Chris’ photos and videos and get them added them soon.