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ARS BumbleBee Contest July 28, 2002


Near Leadville, Colorado
July 28, 2002


View Log - Log of all contacts made
 
I hiked segment 9 of the Colorado Trail the weekend before the ARS Bumblebee event and found a great spot to operate the bumblee from, a small mountain lake at around 11200 feet elevation surrounded buy 13000 foot granite ridges on two sides.  The hike up to the lake was lined with wildflowers and the lake area itself was obviously one of the most beautiful places on the planet!  On two sides, the lake is bounded by 13000 foot granite outcroppings of the continental divide.  Our colorado trail hike was about 13 miles long but studying the topo map of the area I found a trailhead which would get me to the place in a short 2 mile hike.  That two miles involves about 1500 feet of elevation gain but seemed worth the hike.  

The plan was to leave my house at 5:00 AM on Sunday and reach the trailhead by about 7:30.  I figured 2 hours was plenty for he hike in and I could be there by 9:30, leaving 1 1/2 hours to get the antenna set up and be on the air.  I'd put up my tent and spend a leisurely nite playing radio and enjoying the solitude and hike out on Monday morning.  

Saturday nite I put together my pack as usual, the exceptions being:  k2 instead of the k1 I usually use (extra 1.5 lbs), 33' kanga pole with support wires and dipole instead of the little 83' wire and counterpoise I usually use (extra 2 lbs?), 8 ah of gel cells instead of the 8 AA alkalines I usually take (extra 8 lbs?), carrying my own food that I usually talk my wife into carrying (extra 1 lb).  As I weighed the pack in at 61 lbs I had some 2nd thoughts about that 1500' elevation gain.  None the less, 5:00AM the next morning found me in the pickup as planned heading toward Leadville, CO.  According to plan, I arrived at St Kevins trailhead at 7:30AM.  I strapped on the pack on started the hike up the mountain.  The hike was great that time of the morning, the sun just poking through the trees in several spots as I moved up the hill.  At the high point of the trail (11600 feet) the trees disappeared and for a brief time I walked along a tundra lined trail.  I arrived at the operating spot an hour ahead of time at 8:30AM.  With all the time to spare I took the time walk around the lake, pick out my camping spot and set up the tent.  That done moved to a small rocky knob just above the lake to set up the station for the contest.  My antenna was a 44' dipole fed with 300 ohm tv ribbon.  Since my k2 has the built in tuner I can load this antenna on all bands except 80 meters.  I attached the dipole to the tip of my 33' kanga pole and hoisted the whole arrangement into the air.  The day turned out to be pretty gusty and the tip of the pole was bent and the feedline was flying but as I hooked up the k1 and tested it the swr was low on all the bands!   With plenty of time left before the contest I thought I'd make some trial qso's.  I didn't want to drain the k2 internal battery so I broke out the extra 5.6 Ah battery to use.... first murphy attack of the day, my battery connector didn't work.  This wasn't a big deal for the contest but I planned to operate a lot that evening and I expected the internal battery to be drained by the contest.  AND.... I was plenty pissed that I had hauled that 7 lb battery up with no connecter!  Thinking I might be able to 'hot wire' something under the hood, I pulled the lid off the k2.  Luckily, I discovered that the wires  hooked to the internal battery looked long enough to disconnect and hook to my external battery.  I saved this info way for later that nite and put the lid back on.  With some time left I thought of my web page and took some photos of the view from each direction from my operating position: east, west, north and south.    That done it was time for the contest.

I was on the air at 11:00AM.  Conditions didn't seem great but I was able to run off a string of 15 or so contacts pretty quickly.  Then, murphy struck again as I watched my 33' of kanga pole slowly fall to the ground, breaking some of my custom made hardware (small plywood cutouts for holding guy wires and the base).  Ten minutes later I had worked my way around the broken hardware and was back on the air.  The antenna was to fall twice more before the end of the contest and I became proficient at jumping up quickly and raising the pole.  One highlight of the day was watching the pole fall just as I was began a qso with N7LT in Montana.  With him already on the line, I had to repeat my exchange for him a few times but we were able to complete the qso with the antenna laying on the ground!  Congrats to N7LT for digging me out of the noise!  Fifteen minutes before the contest ended murphy visited on last time.  I looked up at antenna and could only see one leg of the dipole.... got up for a closer look and indeed it was down.  Sitting back down, I coerced the K2 autotuner into tuning the antenna as it was but I was not to make another qso on my handicapped antenna.  I ended the contest with 76 qso's and 43 bumblebees.

With the end of the contest I first dissassembled the antenna, to be reconstructed down by the lake for an evening of hamming.  That done I took a short hike down the hill to Porcupine Creek to fill up the water bottles (shouldn't admit it but I did 'drink the water'.  Seeing the continental divide not more then a couple thousand feet from where I was filling my bottles, I knew that the creek had not be running far and took my chances that there was no cooties on the water!).  On return I set up the antenna and as planned spent an evening on the air making several nice stateside qso's.  One excellent qso that evening was with kd6jwc , Dave in Dallas, working mobile.  We chatted for several minutes and when he arrived at his house I imposed on him to contact my wife and let her know that I was save at the campsite and having a fb time!  

The morning provided the most spectacular scenery of the outing.  As I crawled out of the tent at 6:30AM I was greeted with not only the continental divide brightly lit by the morning sun, but the seemingly just as bright reflection of the same granite mountains in the smooth as glass water of the small mountain lake.  This was one of those kodak moments that allows evening a bumbling photographer to take the pictures of a pro.  Murphy and I both grabbed for the camera at the same time and I was too late.  The  automatic camera had rewound itself and there were no pictures to be taken.  Consoled with having the lake and the view all to myself (I had seen only one group of people at the lake since I had arrived the day before and they were there for just a shor time) I slowly made and drank coffee, slowly made and ate oatmeal, slowly made another contact or two, slowly packed my gear and slowly ambled back down the trail to my pickup.... bumblebee 2002 was a huge success.

Picture of my camp as the sun is beginning to set.

The lake with the continental divide in the background.

View looking east from the operating position.

View looking north from the operating position.

View looking south from the operating position.

View looking west from the operating postion.