Knox Mountain Winter Adventure 

January 2009

Hanz, W1JSB, and I met in the late morning for
a QRP ski adventure to the cabin on Knox Mountain.
It was a sunny but cold day... around 20F and we
were bundled up. Long Johns, double thick mittens,
and hand warmers. We knew it would be a rough
trip in with nearly three feet of snow on the ground.

One look at the trailhead confirmed our fears.
The trail was unbroken and we would have a slow
go uphill to the cabin.

Hanz takes a break for some photos

We took turns breaking the trail. We sank in about eight
inches. It was more like walking than skiing.

The brook alongside the trail was as quiet as it was
invisible. Frozen over and covered with snow,
we only saw water a few times. Our trail ran right
along an old woods road. The wildlife forged
their own trails. Coming down the hill and across
our path we saw, deer and moose tracks, coyote
tracks, signs of wild turkeys and the trail of an odd
mouse. What a glorious morning. The sight of white birch
trees against the deepest blue sky made us realize how
absolutely fortunate we are.

The brook (on the right) was frozen and covered with snow

It took us nearly 45 minutes to reach the pond and the
cabin beyond.

Snow is piled up on the dam in the foreground

The cabin is always a welcomed sight. Sunshine bathes the
porch in warmth no matter how cold the ambient temperature

I threw my water bottle over a tree branch in front of the porch,
but it wasn't as high as I wanted. I tried a second time, and it
landed in exactly the same place, so I accepted it (with some
grumbling). I had a 33 foot half wave wire and the little Par
Electronics tuning module.

I set up the 20 meter MFJ Cub and tuned around. Not a lot of
signals... but a handful of very strong ones. I tried for a
Puerto Rican station, but lots of others were calling him and
I didn't wait. I don't think he could hear me. Then I heard
G0IVZ in Cornwall UK calling CQ. W1PI? QRZ? he called.
I snagged him, but with only a 339 report. I should have
had the wire perfectly vertical which it wasn't. Then VE7CBU
called CQ and came right back to me. John was in Vancouver,
BC and gave me a 559. We chatted for a minute. When I told
him there was three feet of snow on the ground and 20F, he
replied, "Oh... just like summer."

The MFJ Cub runs 2 watts

Happy with my two contacts, I gave the table and chair on the
porch to Hanz. He had brought his FT-817. He wanted to make
the antenna more vertical and attached a second rope to the first
and hauled the wire straight up. But by the time he started
operating, the band had gone quiet... Darn. But he still managed to
work VE7CBU in Vancouver and received a better report than
I did! While Hanz was operating, a chickadee (perhaps hoping for
news from some relatives in a warmer climate) landed for a brief
moment near the table.  He quickly darted off again.

Hanz works Vancouver, BC on 20 meters

We broke out the hand warmers and started to pack up for the
return trip. We knew it would be a fast trip back to the car. It
was down hill the whole way and now we had a decent trail.
Whoosh... the return was so much faster. Only 25 minutes!
Now that we've broken a good trail, we really ought to return
again soon.

73, Jim W1PID