Superior National Forest - Boundary Waters POTA Activation
2020-10-09-10 My two sons and one grandson met and camped at the South Kawishwi River Campground in the Superior National Forest near Ely, Minnesota on Thursday night. Then Friday morning we drove to Lake One in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Aras, about 15 miles east of Ely, where we put our canoes in the water and paddled south about an hour to a good wilderness campsite. For the whole story of the trip click here. There I set up my radio intending to do a POTA Activation. Click here to see the details the whole trip. It was an exciting, successful and overall great experience, including the activation.
I took my G90, QRPGuys EFHW and QRPGuys 3-Band wire vertical as well as 20 foot carbon fiber push up fishing pole/mast AND a small fold-up lightweight table and chair. I took two batteries (miady 6Ah LIFEPO4 and Bioenno 4.5Ah LIFEPO4) though either one would have been adequate. All good choices. Antennas, radio and battery performed well. I had no equipment or setup failures or technical problems at all. I also had my Yaesu FT-60 2m/70cm hand held radio. I could raise the 146.64 repeater in Ely but never got a response from anyone.
I set up the radio Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon. Had six 20 meter contacts and one 40 contact on Friday. All but two Friday contacts were SSB. Was powered up for two hours and used about 2Ah of battery capacity.
Saturday I had thirteen 20-meter QSOs. All but three were CW. Also had two 40-meter CW QSOs. My intentions had been to call CQ POTA (Parks On The Air) but I had made a last minute decision to leave my cell phone in the car. That was a problem because all the information I needed to identify the lake including its K-4491 number was on the phone, not in writing anywhere! (Sadly, after getting home and unpacking I found that information on paper hidden in my pack!) So I decided just to call and answer stations calling CQ. The bands were busy with QSO parties and sprints, so no problem getting contacts. Saturday I was powered up 3 hours and used just under 2Ah of battery power.
One new experience for me was that almost all signals sounded very strong so I was surprised when someone didn't seem to hear me. When I began watching the radio's S meter (signal strength meter) I saw why. There was ZERO background noise so even an S2 or S3 signal received signal sounded like S9 to me! However the to the guy listening to me, my S3 or S5 signal was competing with both band noise and higher power pileups as usual. I've heard or read guys talk about that phenomenon but this was my first experience with it. Nevertheless I was as busy as I wanted to be.