January 28-30, 2022

The regular summertime ARRL Field Day is super fun. It is one of the prime HAM events of the year. But to make it a challenge, try doing the same thing in the middle of a Canadian winter! That's what the Winter Field Day Association aims to promote - real emergency preparedness.

This weekend, Jane VE7WWJ and Mike VE7KPZ headed out to find a nice spot in the bush to operate for the event. They left home in Vernon on Friday morning, hit the Starbucks in Lake Country and then headed up onto the Aberdeen Plateau from the south. The destination was Island Lake, a favourite spot and the location of the unofficial NORAC club summer Field Day event in 2021. Michael VE7TMZ had indicated that the road in was plowed, and that made it easy for 95% of the way in. The last leg, over the road's furrow, across the cattle guard and down to enter the campground was another story.

Fortunately the Unimog has 45" tires, off-road chains, 3 differential locks and 20" of ground clearance. With a bit of shovelling to get the road furrow down to a reasonable height and not high-center the truck, the truck was able to creep into the site with all differentials locked up. The boon was just 18" of snow on the ground, so even if the truck dug down through the snow with the chains, it would still be able to make progress.

Once into the general camp area, a level camp spot was selected by a nicely dug-out firepit. Jerome VE7JAR, Jake VE7WEA and his YL joined in for some campfire fun that evening.

The next day Jerome and sons arrived again for a bit of radio and a lot of winter shelter building - a school project for marks.

A LOT of effort was put into that shelter, which turned out awesome - a real functional survival shelter built into the base of a fallen tree's roots.

While the shelter was being built, Jane and Mike set a line into a tree and hoisted up Mike's HyEndFed Field Day antenna, a nice 40m-long, 80m thru 10m EFHW. Feed point end 5-6 meters high, far end 10-12 meters high.

Tuning in with Mike's trusty Yaesu FT-891, the 20m band was noticeably busy with WFD traffic. The other bands were a bit lackluster but lots of contacts were made from the comfort of the Unimog's camper. Bonus points (working truly outdoors) were sacrificed for that 25C heated cabin. Fortunately bonus points for away from home and on emergency power were able to be claimed.

Michael VE7TMZ and family also visited later on Saturday and then proceeded to do some ice fishing on the lake. It was great to see everyone out enjoying winter.

Jane and Mike were alone Saturday night so did a bit more operating from the camper and then Sunday morning packed everything up and headed home. Getting out was a bit tougher than getting in as it was uphill, but the Unimog delivered 7 metric tonnes of awesome.

It's nice to be able to play radio in comfort from some of the quietest spots on earth.

It was fun,
NORAC VP, Technical Lead and avid radio operator from quiet places

Ps: here are some more pics from the event.

First, we have the operating location (you can see the antenna wire sloping up and left from the 6m mast in the driver's rear corner of the camper):


And then the line setting:

... perfectly over a tree: