Keeping it Simple

As with the spirit of QRP and doing “more with less”; I decided to take W2LJ’s advice and downsize my radio camping gear. The process started soon after the return trip from Elkins WV and the 4,000 ft mountain top. My 15 year old tent was showing a lot of wear and tear. I was afraid a really cold rain might leave me very uncomfortable and possibly even in danger of hypothermia during the upcoming winter months. We both decided to downsize and use simple tarpaulins and bivy sacks for our dwellings.

Our fellow NAQCC club member Steve Ashcraft (KC4URI) and I decided to return to Grantsville WV once again before the snow started to fly. After all, this site is one, if not the best, places in the state to view the Milky Way from horizon to horizon.

We both arrived at about the same time and soon realized our former campsite, on the top of a 360 degree hill, would be too cold with temperatures predicted to drop near freezing. There was stiff cold wind blowing from the West  too. We were forced to pitch our tarps and bivy sacks on the side of a small hill to protect us from the cold wind.

That’s Steve in the background checking the wind direction to maximize our warmth as the temperatures continued to drop towards the 30’s.

I’m glad to write we stayed quite comfortable with this gear. Modern day fabrics and insulation kept us warm as toast as we arose the next morning to a light frost (only because of the wind). If you look closely, the ice covered much more than just the windshields of the cars. There was a coating of ice from the roof to the tires.

This month is the anniversary of the West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC Club. It’s been a very busy time with two different camping trips in October. As usual, Steve’s Elecraft K-1 did a fantastic job with the contacts on the this trip. Of the 15  contacts we made on this trip, 13 were NAQCC club members.

The highlight of the trip was having a long talk with a bow hunter in Wisconsin. Ken (WA9JTU) was at his cabin at the time. It had a nice metal roof which he loaded up for the antenna. Many of the QSO’s were about deer, which we saw very little of because of howling coyotes and barking farm dogs in the countryside. A good dog is the best burglar alarm money can buy in the country. It was especially rewarding to work two members of our “core group” who were back in Charleston. Both AC8LJ and W8GDP had 599 signals.

As usual, Steve fixed a great breakfast before breaking camp the next morning. Biscuits and gravy really hit the spot on this cold morning.

The West Virginia Chapter is having our slow CW net on 40 meters again during the winter months. If you’re just kicking around and trying to stay warm, tune to 7.117 MHz at 9:00 PM (local time) and we’ll chat about the weather and radio. The net will be repeated each Wednesday night until the temperatures start to rise again.

John Smithson, Jr., N8ZYA, is a regular contributor to and writes from West Virginia, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “Keeping it Simple”

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