Kenosha Pass Winter Camp - Feb 24, 2001
Kenosha Pass, Colorado
Near Jefferson, Colorado
February 24, 2001
Dan, N0BN, and I had talked about an overnighter in the snow for a couple months and this was the weekend. Dan was doing a radio club meeting in Fairplay, CO until about 3:00PM on Saturday so we planned to meet at Kenosha pass (a few miles east of Fairplay) at about 4:00PM. We agreed on a 2 meter repeater to try and keep in touch in case bad weather and common sense made it look like a bad idea to spend the night in a tent. I left the house at around 2:00, plenty of time to reach Kenosha by 4:00. I keyed the 2 meter rig in the pickup to make sure I could hit the repeater and the test was successful. The weather looked good when I left but the closer I got to the pass the more clouds I had. When I arrived at the pass it was completely overcast, some falling snow, and quite a lot of wind. It was about 3:00. I figured Dan was in his car so I gave him a call. Sure enuff... could no longer hit the repeater. I sat for a few minutes waiting for weather to clear but it didn't improve so I decided to drive on to see if I could find a better postion to hit the repeater. As I dropped over the pass, the weather went to hell!!! The west side of the pass is a large, flat, high plains area. The kind that sucks all the wind in Colorado toward it in the winter (as seen in these pictures I took the next morning). And, that was the case. As I drove the few miles the wind and snow caused white out conditions in several areas. I passed at least one car being pulled from the ditch. Common sense started saying 'no camping tonight'. But... I still couldn't kick the repeater to let Dan know I was retreating. I saw no future in driving further into the storm so I turned around. As I drove I thought of Dan back there on the road, monitoring the repeater frequency. I knew he had to be close so I gave him a call on the repeater frequency, on simplex. Sure enough, there he was. We switched freqs. Before I could explain about wind, snow, etc..... and 'I have to go home!'... Dan said 'Well, I'm driving through some blowing snow and white outs down here but I'm sure its better on the pass and it shouldn't bother us for tonight'. Only a sissy could say 'I have to go home' at that point so I parked at the pass, in the blowing snow (admittedly a lot less then below) and waited for Dan. He arrived within minutes and off we went.
It was short but strenuous hike. When packing all the extra gear for winter camping (double bags!!) and qrping (you know!) and hiking at 10 to 11 thousand feet, old boys get tired quick.... and we did. But, as soon as we started climbing the weather started improving. By the time we reached the top of the ridge we were seeking, the snow and wind was gone. It was starting to look like a great night. We got the tents and antennas up pretty quickly. Then we did a quick hike to make sure we knew how to get out in the dark (in case the wx DID get bad) if needed. By the time we got back we starting to lose light and we needed food. It was just cold enough we didn't want to hang around outside so we went our separate ways and hit the tents for the rest of the night. Here you can see the pleasures of cooking and operating from a little tent. Ahh..... this is what its about :-). We put 20, 30 and 40 meters on the air that night. I operated with a sw20+ and a sw30 using a ZM2 antennar tuner and and 84 foot wire with counterpoise. I operated 20 most of the night with just a few minutes on 30. I had 3 nice qso's on 20: KA2IBE/John/Shelby Township, MI; W2KWN/Red/Sacremento, CA; N2GPX/Pete/NJ. I wasn't able to dig anyone up on 30. Dan operated exclusively 40 with a 40 meter dipole and had 10 or 12 qsos. The cold winter night kept me from operating too far into the evening. Even when you're wrapped up in 2 sleeping bags, the hands and nose get pretty darn cold in the middle of the night. After a pretty good night (kept nice and warm in those two bags but sleeping on the ground is never quite like a bed) I awoke at sunlight and opened the tent flap to a BEAUTIFUL day!! The sky was clear and blue with the sun just coming up through the trees. First order of business was coffee and breakast!!! After getting the water boiling, I jumped (creaked) up to check out the scenery. Lo and behold ol' Dan was taking care of those morning hunger pangs as well!!! After warming up with coffee and oatmeal, I got a chance for another couple qsos: KC4TXR/John/Wappinger Falls, NY; K0WVL/Jim/Minot,ND; WA8FTA/Rosco,IL/Bruce. Then it was time to pack up and head out.