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Black Butte Activation (9.7.2013) NASOTA weekend

ND7PA's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Don't know

For the NASOTA weekend, I took the easy way out and went to a peak that I'd already been on, Black Butte, near Sisters, Oregon. It was just me and the sotadog "Cooper" this time so we got a 5am start to head towards central Oregon.

As I took the Indian Ford Road (FS 11) turnoff off Hwy 20, three muley does strolled across the road directly in front of me apparently fearless.  Usually, I'm carrying a .54 cal muzzleloader in these parts, but today had much a much lighter round. They seemed to sense it.  But the altitude and lack of manmade noise made up for the lack of radio firepower.

Coop and I arrived at the summit early and spent a half an hour chatting up some folks who were just in front of us.  The summit is pretty large and has numerous small trees and some bigger trees to string antennas from. There is the remains of an old fire lookout on one end of the mountain as well.  Its numerous hold-down/grounding cables would probably make a killer counterpoise for a quarter-wave vertical.

It was 38 degrees F at the bottom of the mountain that morning, but by the time we summited, we were warm from the work and bright sunshine.  There was only a light breeeze that day but I took some cover behind some fallen trees and a few large boulders.  The trees make an easy and secure mast suppport. We were on the air in no time.

Activity was already hot by 1640 UTC, when I made my first contact. Many peaks were on as well. This weekend, I worked more stations at one setting than I have in probably 20 years. I worked about 45 stations (15 s2s) in 20 states and provinces. I took breaks now and then to walk around, sightsee and talk to people.  Sometimes Cooper wandered off for a while and I had to get him back in earshot.

Cooper loves to fetch. Sometimes it makes for difficult radio operations however. Once this trip he came back to me with a stick to throw. In the process of retrieving it, he stepped on my tuner with the fully exposed air variable capacitor. Down it went into the dirt. That put me off the air for a few minutes. Working on a fully enclosed tuner now.

I wonder if a new set of "Q signals" should be created for SOTA ops. (tongue in cheek) For example,

QDT - dog stepped on tuner

QYF - yellowjacket on face

QBD - antenna blew down

QCW - can't hear for the wind

QBT - bystander talking to me right now

This could help explain to the other end what our situation is.  Or in the case where one simply hoses up the QSO, they are a great coverup.

Sometimes its easy to get too focused on the radio aspect of this activity.  I was on the air for about 3 hours but took several 20 minute breaks to do some sightseeing. It would be sad for us to make such an effort to get on these beautiful summits and never look up from our logbooks to take in all the beauty and wonder there is to see.

It was a great day on the mountain.  We left with the temperature 40 degrees warmer than the morning. Saw lots of folks working their way up in the heat of the day. Hit the Marion Forks Restaurant on the way back for coffee and pie. Got Cooper a hamburger patty for his efforts. 

Black Butte is a great first activation mountain. Its only 2 miles to the top. The trail is impossible to loose. The views are great. I highly reccommend it.

Meadows at Black Butte Ranch with the Sisters beyond
Looking towards fire tower from operating position
Warm sunny hamshack on the summit
Anonymous's picture

BBR Meadow

The first picture looks like it is showing the meadow of Black Butte Ranch. What a view!