W7ZOI Field Day, Ghost Ridge, Oregon, 2019

Wes Hayward, w7zoi, 28June2019

Like so many radio amateurs in North America, ARRL Field Day (FD) is my favorite ham activity.    I just can't resist the fun of taking a rig into the field and operating portable.    My preferred FD is one where the traditional ham activity is integrated with a hike or a backpacking junket.    I've done FD hikes for over 50 years now.     Alas, I'm now at an age where it's harder to get out into the hills for FD.   Hence, I really wanted to get out while it's still possible, even if the hike is tamer than those of the past.

Son Roger, ka7exm, accompanied me this year.   Our location was one of five or six earlier FDs.     Roger and I have also been there for the June VHF contest and even the January VHF SS, the later on snowshoes.     Another time, my other son Ron, kf7hap, and I did an overnight snowshoe trip to this place for a February contest called "FYBO."    The hike is less than 2 miles one way.   However, it does involve about 800 feet of elevation gain, half of that off-trail.    The location is sometime called "Ghost Ridge" and other times referred to merely as "peak 4925."     It now has the additional designator for Summits-on-the-air of W7O/CN-086.    We did not treat this trip as a SOTA activation.    The following photo shows Mt. Hood from the top of the peak.

Roger and I debated.   Should this be a backpacking overnight effort, or merely a one day walk?   We finally decided on a day hike, for there was no snow on peak 4925 this year to provide water.

We set up our operating position about 100 feet from the summit where available trees could support an antenna.    A fan dipole for 40 and 20 meters was installed as an inverted Vee.  Two lines were hoisted into a couple of the alpine fir trees and were set up to support the center of the antenna and the feedline, a piece of RG-58A/U.    The 40 and 20 meter dipole sections were then staked out with light weight cord.   The two bands were separated to minimize detuning one with the other.    The antenna is shown below.

The operating position is shown below.   We used my Elecraft KX2 for this effort, operating at 4 watts output.     A homebrew transmatch was used.   
  A small clip board had an attached keyer paddle in a corner.   Roger used a larger clip board for cross check sheets.    Our operating was on 40, 20, and 15 meter CW, with most activity on 40.   15 meters surprised us with unexpected activity.     We never did operate any SSB.    I suppose I'll have to give it a try some time.

We operated for about two and a half hours.    About half way through the afternoon, we took a break for a trip to the peak of the hill.    The views were just too good to pass up.   We have operated from the very peak for some other contests such as VHF events where a higher, in-the-clear location is useful.   But comfortable operating positions are missing on the top.    The photos below show Roger and me.
ka7exm   w7zoi

The conditions were poor, but the bands were quiet from the hill top.    We seemed to have no trouble in making contacts on any of the bands and never found a need to break out a battery other than the one internal to the KX2.    Battery technology has certainly evolved in recent times.     The fan dipole was effective, but a bit messy and time consuming to put up.    I'm thinking that a 50 ft dipole might be a good bet for next year.     No matter what we do, this trek was great fun.    Thanks for an excellent trip Rog.

Click here to see descriptions of other portable treks with amateur radio, including numerous Field Days.