March 30, 2022 - Vernon, BC

The RAC Canadian Portable Operations Challenge has monthly multipliers for each new POTA park an operator activates. In an attempt to beat David VA7SZ in the challenge this month, Mike VE7KPZ needed to head out and activate one more distinct park. Silver Star Provincial Park VE-4089 was an easy choice.

The weather was poor with rain at lower elevations and at the park gate it was a blustery snow storm. This meant operation would be done from the shelter of the car. This park is a great escape from the North Okanagan valley's summer heat, but at this time of year, it's still very much in winter.

Jane VE7WWJ was along to assist with the antenna setup and to log for Mike's activation.

Mike's usual POTA antenna, the HyEndFed Portable Mini 10/20/40m EFHW, was strung up slightly differently this day. Instead of the usual sloper configuration, the SOTABEAMS Tactical Mini pole was set up high on a snow bank to suspend the centre of the 12m-long antenna at approximately 7m above ground. The far end of the antenna was attached to a tree branch around 3m above ground and the match end simply suspended in the air by the feedline at around 2m above ground. The result was an inverted V configuration. The antenna was oriented roughly East/West. A 2.1m (7') length of counterpoise coax, 1:1 un:un common mode choke and then another 4.2m (14') of coax tied in to the radio through the car window.

DC power was supplied by Mike's DIY 10 Ah LiFePO4 battery pack, charged up via solar back at the QTH. It was so foggy and snowy that there was no point in putting out the solar panel at this location. Fortunately, Mike can still get bonus points for the RAC challenge as the entire activation was indeed powered by the sun - stored sun from yesterday.

Mike's Icom IC-705 was utilized barefoot with a simple 10 watts QRP RF output for SSB. The hope was that the ~1400m elevation of this location would yield good results quickly without the need for more RF power. The result was a quick 11 contacts (within about 10 minutes of the first call and self-spot). Mike did have to QSY (and re-self-spot) a couple of times within that 10 minutes as "alligators" kept popping up very near to Mike's QRP operating frequencies. It is essential for QRP stations to keep moving to clear frequencies in order to get heard.

Some familiar hunters made the log, but a highlight was working Patrick VE8GER from his cabin just North of Inuvik, Northwest Territories of Canada... waaaay up North. Amazing 54 signal reports in both directions.

Here is the resulting contact map from HAMRS for this activation:

Big thanks to Jane VE7WWJ for setup and takedown assistance, logging and brilliant photography.

Big thanks to all the hunters. This was a quick activation and it's amazing to hear so many of you folks jump on the frequency and work us so fast.

73 and thanks,
Mike VE7KPZ with Jane VE7WWJ