Click on image to view gallery
Last year Ralph and made the drive to the park hoping to activate it in the parks-on-the-air program, and though we had a pleasant day weather-wise, neither of made a single radio contact! We vowed a return to redeem ourselves. As spring approaches and the weather is better, we finally found a day that looked like it would be a good one to return to the park. Upon arrival at my place, Ralph reported that the northern lights were visible as far south as Seattle, with that level of ionosphere activity it made us a bit uncertain about our planned trip. The park may be situated in a very scenic location but it is also nestled on the west side of a string of high mountains which block some of the radio signals. Since most of our contacts are to the east, this range could pose a serious limiting factor and considering our first attempt it was a concern.
We set out at 10:30 and stopped for a coffee in Cloverdale before continuing along to the park. The navcom gave us a time estimate of 1 hour 20 minutes. It proved to be quite accurate and we drove into the main parking lot a bit before noon. On our previous trip we both walked the cart with our gear to the far end of the camping area where there is a grassy field. Today I decided to remain near the car and operate from a picnic table, Ralph walked the road to the distant green space.
I selected a table where I could string up the antenna in a north-south direction, I tried to avoid the paths down to the water so as to not cause any issues with the groups enjoying the area. It is a popular place and even mid-week it was quite busy. Once the antenna was up and the radio operating, I dialed across the bands looking to hear one of the posted activators. I heard nothing. Even the hunters trying to reach the parks were mostly absent, now I really was getting concerned about our chances of getting the park activated. I found a frequency on the 15m band, posted myself and started calling. This went on for over a half hour and I had no responses. I moved to the 12m band and called some more but again nothing. It was past time when Ralph and I planned to connect, I called him on the handheld radio. He was also having a terrible time, He finally had moved to the 20m band and managed two contacts there.
We decided to give it another half hour so I moved my frequency to the 20m band as well and started calling there. Not much longer I finally had a station respond. It was a Wisconsin station and reported me as a very weak signal but I got him logged. Soon after a chap sailing a boat in a mid-California lake called. He reported my signal as very strong. So that was very encouraging. A couple more California stations came in after that. I started to make a slow but steady number of contacts including from one of my regulars in Ontario. So, the mountains weren’t too big of an issue after all! Around 1:30 I even managed to work a station in New York with a decent signal strength. Ralph called back saying he had reached enough contacts and was starting back. I continued for a few minutes more and then closed down my station as well. Ralph arrived just as I finished packing up my gear.
The nice thing for me at my location was the number of people coming by asking about my activity, it was a welcome diversion while my radio put out calls that were going unheeded. A mother and daughter were at the table next to me and they were quite friendly, they come there often to eat and just enjoy the fresh air. I also chatted with a guy who does search and rescue locally, he told me about a friend of his who is a ham up the Squamish valley, a chap I also knew and had visited on a number of occasions with my son Geoff when we would return from driving the forestry road past his place.
We had planned to leave no later than 2pm so as to avoid the rush hour traffic but that was still to come, so we wandered over to the boat launch dock area and enjoyed some views from there. There was a group of seals on a platform just next to the wharf. They were sunning themselves but also making a loud racket vocalizing. They had been doing so the whole time I was operating, the headphones helped immensely in this location. Done with wandering, we returned to the car and set off for home. The Navcom said return would take 1 hour 20 to return just like it took going and even with a bit of slowdown getting off the north-shore we arrived home on schedule! A lovely park and very nice day out in the sun though I do think I got a bit wind-burnt sitting there. This time we got the activation completed.