Knox Mountain in January 2010

Hanz, W1JSB and I skied to Knox Mountain
this morning. The weather was perfect and
so was 20 meters. We worked Spain and
Belgium before our hands and feet froze.

We started out from the road a little before
10:00 am. No one had been on the trail but
deer, coyotes, mice and rabbits. There was
a good base of about 8 inches of snow.

Hanz heading toward the cabin

The sky was a deep azure and the sun was bright.
The temperature when we left was 23F. The brook
was still flowing although ice had formed deep
patterns at every opportunity.

After 25 minutes or so, we reached the dam. The cabin
was in full sunlight. Always welcome on a cold day.

As we came around the corner approaching the
cabin, we could see that the snow had drifted
around the hill above the pond.

We quickly set up our station on the porch. Hanz
had brought his FT-817. I had the antenna, a 33 foot
wire, the key and a lithium-ion laptop battery. Right
away we could hear lots of strong European signals.
At the bottom of the band ON6SA was just finishing
up a QSO and I called him. Arno gave me a 559. He
was a solid 599.

Working ON6SA in Belgium

I was glad to see the magic still worked, and I turned
the key over to Hanz.

I pulled out the chemical hand warmers while Hanz
listened in on a QSO between a K5 and EA2COA
in Spain. As soon as the QSO was finished, Hans
gave his call and Luis answered. Hanz received a
559 from Spain. On the second over, something went
wrong when Hanz started sending... he hit the key but
sent a strange mangled mess of longs and shorts. I fiddled
with the plug on the key, but that wasn't it. OH! It hit me.
Hanz was wearing a pair of mitts my wife had knit from
lama wool. One of the hairs from the wool had gotten
caught up in the key contacts.

I whisked the fiber out of the way with a piece of the log book. And
Hanz sent a normal exchange, giving Luis a 599. "UR TX is a problem,"
answered Luis before he sent 73. Not so much of a problem as our
cold hands. We quickly packed up for the return trip and
slipped the hand warmers into our frozen gloves.

Hanz packs up for the return trip

We cut nearly 12 minutes off the the ski back to the car.
Zipping down hill most of the way was a relief from the
slow uphill trip to the cabin. The car heater was a welcome
for our numb fingers.