Recent POTA Activations

My recent activations have been mainly short drives or day trips from home. Here’s where I’ve been in the last several months, from oldest to newest:

  • Fish Creek Provincial Park – VE-0648
    • operated 20m SSB
    • logged 23 contacts, including 3 park to park
    • This was a two-for with VE-5082

These next parks were 2 operator activations with Vince VE6LK:

  • Indian Graves Provincial Recreation Area – VE-5521
    • operated 10m and 20m SSB
    • logged 11 contacts
  • Chain Lakes Provincial Park – VE-1168
    • operated 10m, 15m, 17m, and 20m SSB
    • logged 49 contacts, including 10 park to park
  • Brown-Lowery Provincial Park- VE-0638
    • operated 15m and 20m SSB
    • logged 18 contacts, including 6 park to park
  • Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Reserve – VE-2923
    • operated 10m, 15m, and 20m SSB
    • logged 38 contacts, including 8 park to park

Earlier Activations:

ATNO at Chinook Provincial Recreation Area – VE-1170 – with Crowsnest Mountain in the background
Activating along the very scenic Bow River
Rocking FT8 – this is the response after one single “CQ POTA” call

Since the beginning of summer, I’ve activated K-4505 in Montana a half-dozen times. All but one of those activations were with my friend Craig KC7CUE. We operated off the tailgate of the truck out in the woods. As a bonus, this particular location in the Kootenai National Forest has good cell coverage, which greatly facilitates our logging and spotting ability.

Two of those activations were Late Shift. We literally waited to activate until conditions improved in the evening.

I did another couple of activations at K-4505, including one all-FT8 with my son Marc K7BSD

On August 10th, I pulled off a 5-activation day. Starting around 7AM MDT, I activated Elko Provincial Park VE-3468 in British Columbia, followed by Kikomum Creek VE-3676 using SSB.
These two were my first Early Shift activations.

Then I moved 20 minutes east up the highway to Morrissey Provincial Park VE-3827. This is a small park on the Elk River, and has high ridges to the north and south, leading to very high takeoff angles. Here conditions were pretty tough, so I used FT-8 to make the required number of contacts. Surprisingly, I worked one Japan station.
Next up the road another 20 minutes was Elk Valley Provincial Park VE-3467. Conditions were a bit better there than at Morrissey, so I was able to activate using SSB.
Fast forward into Alberta and I went to the Pekisko Heritage Rangeland VE-3104. Here I logged 18 FT-8 contacts and wrapped up the activation with one Park to Park SSB contact.
Kikomum Creek has been activated twice before, but I activated the other 4 entities for the first time.

On August 29, Craig KC7CUE and I activated K-4505 again on 20m SSB, but this time from a slightly different location a few miles south of Rexford, MT. This location was selected because it is on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, K-4563. So we activated as two operators doing a 2-for.
K-4505 was my 8th activation of this park.
We used my 20m Ham Stick dipole antenna on my new painter’s pole hitch mount.

On September 1, Craig and I went to Whitefish, MT for a two-two-two event. There are two parks, one on either side of Whitefish Lake. These two parks are about a 20 minute drive apart, to get around the lake. In addition, both these parks are within the Stillwater State Forest K-4848. Using both SSB and FT8, we activated Whitefish Sate Park and Les Mason State Park as 2-fors, with the Stillwater being the aggregate of both activations. We worked several other activators, so we had compounding results with several Park to Park and 2-operator contacts. We started both activations with SSB, looking for Park to Park opportunities, but band conditions drove us to switch to FT8 to complete both activations after a while. We operated off my battery pack and hitch mounted dipole for these activations.

On September 3 after dinner (Sept 4 UTC), I was hearing lots of stations, so I quickly headed out to K-4563 for an activation. I quickly racked up 18 SSB contacts in this brief 30 minute activation. I ended on a high note with a Park to Park contact with KH6WI, adding Hawaii toward my Worked All States in POTA. I have 5 to go, including the tiny, elusive states of DC and DE.

On September 5, I took almost the entire day to drive home and make several detours along the way. I activated 5 parks, all new to me, and two of those were all time new activations. The parks were Castle Provincial Park VE-2971, Bob Creek Wildland VE-2948 (new), Livingston Range VE-3306, Dutch Creek VE-1176 (new), and Black Creek Heritage Rangeland VE-2943. These earned me my third Warthog Award. As is my usual practice, I hunt for Park to Park contacts first, which also gives me a sense of how the band conditions are at the time. I was disappointed to hear almost nothing on 20M SSB, but this was close to midday, so it is somewhat expected. So FT8 was my mode of choice. Signals were up and down, often fading in the middle of a contact. At Dutch Creek, I was able to work two 2-fors in a row on sideband before switching to FT8.
The road was really rough to Dutch Creek, but with Bob Creek and Livingston along the way, but it was worth the teeth-rattling drive to activate all three parks.
There was no cellular coverage at any of these parks; connectivity was lost about 3 miles west of the highway. That made spotting my activations totally impossible. I would have to rely on others to spot me.

Entering and driving in the Livingstone Range Wildland Provincial Park

Arrival at Dutch Creek Provincial Recreation Area.

‘The Gap’ in the Livingstone Range and the Oldman River

The Gap in the Livingstone Range runs parallel to the range itself. As a result, it is literally invisible until you are actually within it.

After completing these three activations, the next leg of the trip on the gravel road to Black Creek was amazingly smooth and well maintained.

The view of ‘the Gap’ from my operating position was absolutely spectacular.

After the activation, I ran into a traffic jam leaving the site.

POTA takes us to some pretty spectacular places, no?

On September 17, I brought Bruce VE6BR, a brand new activator, with me to VE-6094, the Okotoks Erratic. We set up my 20m dipole on my new truck bracket, and my FT-897 and battery pack. Conditions were pretty good after dinner. We were hearing several other activators, and several of them were working pileups. With the exception of our first two contacts, the rest of the activation was a Late Shift activation, starting just before sunset. We had a few little pileups of our own. And the best part of this activation was when hunters were ready and waiting for the second operator. Well done. Thank you.
I have a feeling it’s going to take a few days for the grin on Bruce’s face to fade away.

Photo credits: Bruce VE6BR

On September 23, Bruce and I again went to activate a new park for us.. We drove to the Bar U National Historic Site VE-4774 in the late afternoon. We were mindful of the site’s 5PM closure time, as we were within the site’s gates. Using the same setup as we did at the Big Rock, we were on the air within minutes of arrival. We tuned around and looked for spots, and were hearing many other activators. My usual activation starts with hunting for Park to Park contacts, and before long, we had a successful activation made up entirely of Park to Park contacts. We never called CQ once. We kept going that way until it was time to pack up and leave.

On October 2nd, Vince VE6LK and I went on another roving POTAthon, with a plan to activate 10 parks in one day. We started the UTC day with at the Okotoks Erratic, aka the Big Rock VE-6094. Then after a shot nap, we set out before the crack of dawn. Heading west of Longview, we activated 3 parks Highwood PRA, Highwood Compound, and Highwood Junction, then headed south on the Forestry Trunk Road. First up is Etherington Creek VE-3016 has been activated before, so we piled on a couple more activations.
We followed that up with Don Getty Wildland VE-2999 and Cataract Creek VE-2974. These were both first activations. Next, Plateau Mountain VE-3108 was in the plan, but we found a closed and locked gate. Apparently the access road has been leased to an oil company, and access to the park now requires a 3km hike up to the park boundary. So we decided to skip this one.
Now heading east, we activated Indian Graves VE-5521. Vince and I have activated this one once before.
Next, we headed south to Chain Lakes VE-1168. This was my third time in this park and Vince’s ninth time. We were to nine parks for the day, but since we had to skip one, we needed one more to make our 10 park rove a success.
We decided to stop and activate the Bar U Ranch VE-4774 as our 10th park as we got closer to home. We managed to complete this activation with 21 contacts in my log and about 20 minutes before the end of the UTC day.
Overall, we activated using CW (Vince only), FT8, and SSB, and I logged a total of 138 contacts for the day. I even had one DX contact, a hunter from Italy. I had a lot of repeat callsigns during the day. It seems we had a bit of a following of hunters. I always enjoy seeing this, it is encouraging.
Another notable item is that we had no cellular coverage at the first 8 parks, and it was a bit spotty at Chain Lakes. Only the Bar U had good cell coverage.
Without cell coverage for spotting, the solution was to use SOTAmat, the new kid on the block to facilitate posting spots. A buddy turned me on to it recently, and after reading up and setting myself up, Vince and I were able to post spots for each activation. The results were awesome. Clearly the spots were picked up by SOTAmat and then posted, because after calling ‘CQ POTA’ for only a minute or so, the hunters were onto us. I think I’ll do a writeup soon to explaining my configuration.

On October 14, I invited Bruce VE6BR to come along to Nose Hill Park VE-3089. We also invited Ian VE6XZ to come along. Ian’s never done POTA before, and he was curious. After a few minutes, our 2 operator activation became a 3 operator activation. I logged 23 SSB contacts on 20 meters. I especially liked Ian observation where he says POTA is like Field Day except that stations actually want to talk to us. That is so true, and probably the most compelling reason to activate.

A week later, Ian had zero hesitation when I suggested another activation. We activated Reader Rock Gardens VE-6118. This is a brand new entity that was just added in recent weeks. It was a pretty chilly day, but we all ended up with over 40 contacts.

On November 13th, I planned a trip to our repeater hub site for a pre-winter check-out. Vince VE6LK, Bruce VE6BR, and I headed to the site. Problems plagued us, so with a good number of daylight hours remaining, we planned the activation of another recently added park. We picked our activation location as the mountaintop where the club has a repeater. On arrival, we did a quick check-out of this repeater and APRS digipeater, then started our 3-operator activation. The park is known as the Porcupine Hills, VE-6125, and has not been activated yet. We started on 10 meter SSB, which was quite active. After about 40 minutes, we switched to 15 meters, with equally good results. The location is a ridge at over 1500m elevation. It slopes downhill toward the south so the takeoff angle is quite favourable. We logged around 45 contacts each, so this was a very successful activation. Bruce has the honour of being the first activator for this park.

Thank you hunters for making this possible!