Anyone who’s been reading this blog (and I can probably count that number on one hand) knows that I’ve been thinking about a new (to me) antenna design. Being in a covenant-restricted neighborhood, I can’t erect a permanent obvious-looking antenna. But the neighborhood covenants are not extremely restrictive, I have nice neighbors, and there doesn’t appear to be any actual HOA that actively searches for covenant violations, so I figure I can get away with an antenna with a reasonably small visual footprint that I only put up when I want to play radio. To top things off, I have no trees or other readily available antenna supports, so whatever I end up using must be free-standing. The obvious choice, at least to me, is a vertical antenna.
One of my favorite ham radio contests (and the very first one I ever tried) is the ARRL November Sweepstakes. Whenever I can take the opportunity, I like to work the Sweepstakes on CW running QRP levels. I hadn’t managed to participate during the past couple of years, and this year I wanted to resume the tradition.
Well, QRP Afield 2007 has come and gone. As is customary, our merry little band assembled on Friday afternoon to begin the journey to our campsite for this year’s event. Dave NK0E, John N0HJ, and Steve N0MHQ made up our group this year. Steve N0TU, a regular for these events, was enjoying retired life by hitting the trail for a five-day venture with his goats and his brother-in-law and couldn’t join us this year. Our destination was once again along the Ute Creek Trail in the Lost Creek Wilderness west of Colorado Springs. This area is absolutely perfect for such adventures. It’s easily accessible, not far from water, but yet secluded and sparsely traveled. We can reach the trailhead in an hour and a half from Colorado Springs, the roads to the trailhead are good, and we can reach our campsite in less than an hour’s hike from the trailhead. Yet, we have *never* seen another hiker near our campsite (and I’ve camped in this area at least eight times over the years).