The ND6E team is back from our annual expedition to San Benito County.
Another great time was had by all.
|This year we decided to try a new site, one with electricity,
and one that is easier to get to with an RV than Fremont Peak. Eric,
K6EP, went on a search for a new site and came up with the Pinnacles Campground
on the eastern side of the Pinnacles National Monument. The site
was at a fairly low elevation and surrounded by mountains, but Eric measured
their elevation to be about 6 degrees and that would be fine for US contacts.
|We began our journey on Friday morning. The plan was to meet on a 2 meter simplex frequency and caravan our RV's to the site. As with all good plans, it didn't go quite as expected. Ron and I called and called but couldn't find the other two RVer's. So we decided to go on ahead. As we passed the rest area on the way to Watsonville, I spied Tom's RV hiding behind a big truck. He was waiting for Eric to show up. Ron, K6EXT, and I decided to go on ahead since it was too late to stop at the rest stop.|
|Upon arriving at the campground we were a bit worried by the camp rules. There it was in the largest, boldest letters on the sign: ABSOLUTELY NO RADIOS. We went ahead and found our site. Shortly after wards Tom, KG6AO, arrived . A bit later Eric, K6EP, pulled in. Within a few hours, we all had our rigs set up and the towers and antennas mounted. Eric had his triband beam at about 35 feet. Tom had a 3 element monoband yagi also at about 35 feet. They had first rate stations with KW amplifiers and rotators. I set up my two element 20 meter yagi on 24 foot of green military mast. Below that I set up a 15/40 meter dipole. My rotator was a piece of rope tied to the boom. No laughing, it worked great. I only ran 100 watts, but for a QRPer that is like a KW. When the park ranger came around, not only did he not enforce the `NO RADIOS' policy, but he thought it was kind of interesting.|
|Saturday morning, Kamal, KA6MAL, Arrived and set up a 40 Meter SSB station. We were pretty much set. We had Ron on 10 SSB, Eric on 15, 80, 160 SSB, Tom on 20 SSB, Kamal on 40 SSB, and Me, AC6KW, on 15, 20, 40 CW.|
|That morning we also had another visitor. A bobcat had found an interesting hole to watch on the far side of the site. I was able to get quite close to him to take his photo. He kept looking at me then at the hole and trying to decide if I was enough of a threat to give up his breakfast||.|
|The contest began and we all retreated to our stations. The site looked pretty much deserted most of the time. Without the annoying roar of generators blaring, all that could be heard was the quiet melodic sound of CW and the constant drone of voices calling `CQ CA from ND6E' ;-) There was the occasional break for hiking, and swimming in the pool, but most of the time was spent at the rigs. The dinner break was nice as we all got together for a group dinner. While having our dinner, we heard a loud scuffling behind Kamal's tent. A quick investigation led to the discovery of a herd of about 20 wild pigs rooting around the large oak tree that was supporting our wire antennas.|
|Morning brought the sweet smell of coffee. Kamal and I had a
nice talk as we watched the deer grazing nearby. Then it was back
to the rigs as we all pounded them out one by one.
The contest was lots of fun as was the camaraderie. It is fun
to bring a rare county to life and be at the rig end of a pile-up.
We all can't wait until next year to do it again.