Following is Steve's (wG0AT) account of our QRP day on Mount Herman above Monument, CO, on 2 Jun 2011.
Yesterday Chuck N6UHB and I hiked up Mt Herman with the goats. It was forecasted to be hot and windy and the weatherman wasn't wrong! Chuck had never made a QSO via HF before. HF radio solar conditions were pretty poor at SF:112 A:17 K:2 SF. But I was still hoping we could snag a few QSOs in spite the solar conditions, but you just never know? And if that failed we would at least get some great exercise!
Chuck had contacted me recently seeking advice about portable rigs and antennas (What was he thinking? ...says Rooster). He said he liked to hike and was interested in combining the hiking thing with some HF radio fun. He said he held an extra class license but had never operated on HF before. So I suggested we take a hike with the goats and play radio a top Mt Herman. We met for coffee and planned our hike.
Once on trail Rooster (225-lb goat) keep challenging this new herd member Chuck by trying to herd him off the trail. I had warned Chuck about this and armed him a squirt bottle (goats hate water, especially in their face). Rooster found his match and gradually gave in but not without a few making Chuck almost loose his balance a few times. Once on top we set up a sloper dipole on 20m and launched a 5w SSB signal. Chuck is not yet hooked on CW but shows interest.
20m was pretty noisy and only a few signals were heard. I found a loud station who had just signed with another. He was checking to see if any other stations were on frequency announcing "QRZ" ...I threw out my call he came back. I handed the mic to Chuck. Dave-K4DHG/am (http://www.qrz.com/k4dhg) piloting a Challenger 300 some where west of Florida flying at 32,000'. I could see Chucks face light up. It should have! Making contact with an aeronautical mobile for your first HF QSO is quite remarkable in my opinion! I can count on one hand the few times I've had a QSO with some aeronautical mobiles!
Next we called CQ on the HFpack frequency (14,342.5MHz) for a while and Dennis-KB0FSP answered! He's near Lakes of the Ozark was operating 'picnic table portable' running his SEA-222 @ 50w with a small vertical antenna. Then Paul-W0RW in CO Spgs showed up and offered to spot us on some of the lists. Then Mike-WE0H north of St Paul, MN called us. Joe-N3IBX and exchange report just barely as QSB worked our sigs! Conditions weren't great but we managed to hold the frequency and exchange reports, names/QTHs and gear and we signed off before the QSB ended our fun!
We took a break, ate some snaks and enjoyed the views watching the goats dance on the edge of the cliff. Back to radio fun I tuned around a bit and found a few nets going ...Maritime Moble net NCS Ron-W9RMA was very loud and he was kind enough to give us signal reports from WI. We also stumble on another net WSSM? Can't remember exact name? Chuck also worked a friend of his on 2m via simplex to CO Spgs about 20-miles LOS.
After an enjoyable run of HF QSOs considering conditions we packed up and hiked around south and north summits before returning to the trail head. Rooster by now had pretty accepted his new herd member and had made friends or at least peace for now. But Peanut was now feeling frisky and started butting heads with Rooster during our down climbing. Fun day in spite of the punk solar weather!!
Fun and interesting thing for me was I pretty much take operating HF for granite ...seems the thrill now comes from who shows up and what if any DX you manage to work based on power/antenna and solar conditions. But it was a real hoot to have a 'never-ever' along and vicariously relive the thrill of that 'first QSO'. It just never gets old and reminds me why this is such a cool hobby!
Cheers, Steve wGOAT (Rooster & Peanut)
PS: Sri no video the goats forgot their cameras!