Fall Camping with Radios

Yesterday I took my sons with me to camp at a local State Park that we hadn’t been to before.

Frontenac State Park (POTA K-2484) is approximately 1 hour south of my QTH in a sparsely populated area along the St. Croix river which forms the boundary between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

It is a beautiful park that is atop a forested rise that sits above farmlands and the river on the east.

We reserved the group camp site and invited a couple of friends and their kids to come along, and I – of course – brought my radio gear in the hopes of doing a second successful POTA activation.

Arriving in the afternoon, and with it being November in Minnesota, the sun sets quickly and earlier with each passing week. The weather was getting colder and the wind was quite gusty, making the cool fall temperature feel much colder than it was. We set about getting tents setup and getting some dinner, and waited for our friends to arrive. While we waited, I got things setup.

I took the opportunity to bring my Lab599 Discovery TX-500 radio which had only been used from home since my acquisition in August of this year. I also brought my LnR Precision Mountain Topper 4 v2 for the same reason, hoping to get both of them on the air outdoors.

My 15 year old son making faces at me as I take a picture of my setup. Thanks son! You can see both the TX-500 in the center, and the N0SA paddle in the lower right.

I paired the two radios with a QRP Guys Tri-band Vertical which was supported by a 20ft (6m) Jackite telescopic pole.

New to me for this activation was a N0SA SOTA Paddle – an ultra-miniature paddle that is produced in very small lots by N0SA. This thing is tiny, but it is superbly constructed and a solid performer.

I called CQ once in order to get RBN to spot me and hoping to get the https://www.pota.app spots to pick up RBN and get me on the list (I scheduled a spot window before leaving). I was picked up in Arizona and California on 20m.

Immediately I had K7GT in Oregon come back and that kicked off a 20 minute back and forth. Allan was most patient with me as my fingers became increasingly numb and my fist became increasingly bad. Being a new CW operator meant that I also had to have him repeat things sometimes.

In the end, I had to call it quits as even with some thin gloves on I couldn’t reliably work the paddle any longer. The wind was gusting to 20+ mph (32kph or so) and with lower temps it was cutting straight through the wool.

I packed up the radios after a single contact and settled down by the fire with friends and my sons and enjoyed the warmth provided by both. We slept that night serenaded by the local coyotes while the raccoons scratched around the picnic table next to us looking for any crumbs left behind from dinner.

While I would have greatly enjoyed completing an activation of this park, I had to pack up early this morning to return home – something that I had known before I left the day before.

All in all this was another learning experience as all endeavors are; first of all I need to come up with a solid fall/winter POTA plan to deal with the cold and remain on the air, and secondly that even though it didn’t go as planned the experience was worth it nevertheless. I had logged a great contact with K7GT and had a good time with my boys.

Time with my sons is never wasted. 🙂

Some more pictures from a great getaway.

A very large group campsite that included two pavilions and nobody else for a quarter of a mile
Sunrise peeking out through the trees






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