ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, SSB
Class: Single Op HP
Operating Time (hrs): 9
Total: 291 Sections = 72 Total Score = 41,904
Club: Northern California Contest Club
This isnâ??t just a hobby its an exciting adventure.
If you heard me give my section as "SCV" in the contest instead of "SV" as
planned you copied me correctly.
My original plan was to operate from our cabin in the Sierras at 5000 feet this
weekend in section SV using much better antennas than I have at our home in
Saratoga. I took up an old but beloved monster Alpha 77SX amplifier in the Jeep
to use "full legal limit" running off a 5.5 KW 240V generator I rebuilt earlier
this summer. I made it up to the cabin Friday after a 6 hour drive, set
everything up and the station was working perfectly. Life was good and I was
already wondering how much I would beat my goal of a minimum of 600 QSOs on
Saturday. I knew there was a snow storm coming in but I didnâ??t expect the
"big storm" to hit until late Saturday and I was "sure" I could make lots of
contacts and get out before we were trapped or in harms way.
What went wrong????
Friday night when my large Siberian Husky "Scout" and I went to sleep around
midnight up at our â??cabinâ?? it had stopped raining and snowing and there was
only 3 inches of snow on the ground. I pounded a 9 inch stake in the ground
between the cabin and the barn where I could view it from inside the cabin with
the plan that when/if the snow level eventually got near the top of the stake
sometime late Saturday afternoon or evening I would pack the Jeep and Scout and
I would leave while we could still get out. I was confident I could easily make
600 QSOs before we had to leave. The Alpha's 8877 finals survived the Jeep ride
in 4WD down the bumpy forest service dirt road and easily put out full legal
limit power, the rebuilt 240V generator ran flawlessly from the barn and all of
the antennas were operational and ready for SS, the laptop logging computer had
pre-fills loaded for the contest and the laptop clock was synchronized with WWV
time. Everything was ready.
Around 0600 Saturday morning I let Scout out for a short range recon and I
couldnâ??t see the "snow stake" any more! I thought it had fallen over until
Scout ran out in the snow and the snow was up to his neck!!! Overnight the snow
level had increased to over a foot! I packed the Jeep as quickly as I could, put
antifreeze in the drains, turned everything off, stored all the radio gear I
could lift, threw a snow shovel and a chain saw in the jeep, locked everything
up and left.
By then the temperature had dropped to 27 degrees and it started snowing. Then
it started snowing even faster.
It took me over 2 hours just to make it 2 Â½ miles out on the unplowed dirt
forest service road from our cabin to Highway 20 and I think somewhere between
5 and 6 inches of additional snow fell while I was trying to get out. I had to
dig the Jeep out of the snow twice on my way out. (I am glad I am still
relatively young at only 67â?¦this will be tougher to do when I am in my 70s).
The good news is that it was really beautiful in the forest watching big fluffy
snow flakes coming down as I shoveled snow or coaxed the Jeep in 4WD through the
snow and tried not to slip off the now icy road and down the mountain side.
Right! The drive back to Saratoga was an additional 6 hours but Scout and I
celebrated finally being on a "plowed" paved road.
When I checked via the internet the snow depth monitoring gauges at Blue Canyon
which are only a few miles from my cabin and at the same elevation I learned
that at the approximate time we left the cabin the snow level had gone from 3
inches to 14 inches and by Saturday night the snow level was 32 inches. If we
hadnâ??t gotten out when we did we would still be there.
The contest??? After two hours digging my way out and struggling to make it to
a paved road Saturday morning and another six hours of driving in the snow and
traffic to make it back to Saratoga I was pretty well wiped out and I fell
asleep after unloading the Jeep in my favorite chair here in Saratoga. My wife
simply took my snow boots off and placed a blanket over me. I missed the first
part of the contest. When I woke up the next day I turned on the equipment and
operated from SCV and I finally engaged in the SSPH contest on Sunday instead
of Saturday. My score is nowhere near what I had intended but I am glad that
Scout and I will be home for Thanksgiving rather than still snowed in up at our
Contesting is not just a hobby its an adventure. I plan to do better next year
(and from SCV if there are *any* snow storms forecasted for SV). KB, Ted, K6XN
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