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Alaska Plus Yukon Plus Ham Radio = Magic in The Far North Plus DX!
Books By John Reisenauer  - KL7JR
((Portions of this article were edited from John's book, "Go North John
"))
See bottom of article for other books by John!
Some books available as "ebooks" See Below!

Photo courtesy David Brown
(Photo courtesy David Brown)

It was an early June, 1989 morning (12:30 am) when the British Aero 146 jet set down in Whitehorse . 
I'd left New York City about 10 hours ago.  I was very surprised  how light out it was this early in the morning.  I have a lot to learn about the North! 

After a restful sleep and hearty lumberjack breakfast I was off to tour the town.  I wandered into radio station CKRW and received a warm welcome and full tour of the facility.  This was a nice surprise for me since I'd been an avid SWL for many years.  At 10:00 am I got my first glimpse of the mighty Yukon River.  I had never seen an emerald-green fast flowing river as this before.  I was mesmerized.  Little did I know this spell would last a lifetime.

 

I worked Bill, VY1AU on the local 2 meter  (146 MHz ) repeater.  We met for an eyeball and discussed old times.  Bill and I first said hello some 15 years ago in Oregon .  I commented how strange it was to sign N9GPK portable VY1.  We agreed to meet later in the day for a barbecue.  I decided to drive to Skagway , Alaska , since it was only 115 miles south of Whitehorse .  The scenery enroute to Skagway was equally as awesome as in the Whitehorse area.  This area houses some of the most rugged terrain on this planet.  I just couldn't imagine being exposed to this great wonder every day!  Even the Yukon highway signs reflected the northern spirit.  I spent three hours wandering around the tourist town of Skagway before heading back to the Yukon .  I think I burned up ten rolls of film just on this one day adventure alone. 

Later back in Whitehorse I attended a barbecue as Bill's guest at club station VY1DX, a single wide mobile home located on top a high bluff over looking the city.  All sorts of antennas protruded from the trailer roof and a tower tied off to a tall pine tree had a shiny new tribander glistening in the sun!  I was told the tower tied to the tree was a temporary installation.  The club was waiting on the City of Whitehorse to donate the concrete for the tower base.
 

 

After Bill's deliciously cooked T-bone steak dinner, complete with all the trimmings (Yukoners sure know how to eat!), we all retired to one of the two operating positions (one for SSB and one for CW) to start the Alaska Highway Net.  I had a nice chat with VY1BQ, DN, AD and FF  before VY1BQ called the net to order on 3855 KHz as VY1DX.  I jumped at the opportunity to assist at the mic and worked VY1DW (near Fortymile) and VY1DU (near Mayo) as check ins.  These were my first HF arctic to arctic contacts!  I worked them as N9GPK/VY1 also. 

The next morning Ron, VY1AD (now VY1RM) gave me a very interesting tour of his work QTH,  radio station CBC Yukon .  In the afternoon I met with Bill, VY1CW over coffee.  Bill gave me the keys to VY1DX and said "have a good time"!   Bill has an interesting job as a radio technician for the Yukon Government.  He maintains most of the government's  HF and VHF radio equipment and antennas throughout the Yukon .  He's the only Yukon ham running high power.

 

Propagation was very poor but I did manage a dozen contacts with California and Oregon (W6's and W7's) on 20 meter SSB as VY1DX.  My operating was in competition with the local gun club next door.  Bullets were zinging everywhere it seemed like.  One Ham asked me if I was in a war zone.  He chuckled for a long time after I explained the situation.  Bill had mentioned propagation was poor for the last 2 months up here.

This was truly an exciting and enjoyable experience on my first "north of the 60th parallel" adventure.  The first of many, many more to come.

 

 

The next few months drug on for me- all I could think about was Alaska and the Yukon .  I was hooked! 

Just before Thanksgiving I phoned my oldest daughter Tracy and told her we're going to Anchorage ! We met in Seattle and flew to Anchorage together.  My luggage was packed with radio gear.  I even hand carried a 10 meter (28 MHz) Hamstick vertical antenna all the way from New York City !  I've been in the "Big Apple" for a year- this North Dakota boy was definitely a "fish out of water".  Tracy soon learned her new title was "chauffeur" while I played on 10 meter phone from our rental car.  Where's the guy who told me magnetic mounts won't scratch the car's roof ! 

I couldn't  believe how clear and strong the signals were from Japan , Korea and Siberia compared to what I was used to from the lower 48.  Dxing seemed very easy and QRM was non-existent.  Later I'd be in for a surprise called "aurora" and just what kind of impact that has on radio signals!  I tuned around on ten meters and noticed a very strong signal from Siberia .


Operator Mike was 20 over S9 when I broke his pileup.  He welcomed me to the north and gave me the same signal report.  Not bad for a mobile I thought. The next evening we met with Rich, AL7FI and Shari, AL7FJ at their QTH in Eagle River just a few miles north of Anchorage .  They were friends of  a friend (AL7GQ).  Shari was net control for the Motley Net on 3933 KHz and checked me into the net.  We counted over 60 hams who checked into the net.  Later I'd come to learn the importance of nets in the North.  For some hams living in the bush (ie- remote Alaska ), Amateur Radio was their only link to the outside world.  I distinctly remember a Ham checking in from McCarthy with health and welfare (medical) traffic for Anchorage.  He reported the medical condition of his elderly neighbor.  McCarthy,  in southeast Alaska , is only accessible via plane or by foot.

 

By noon the next day we were back along Cook Inlet in downtown Anchorage working 10 meter SSB.  I actually had a few mini-pileups going.  Most stations couldn't believe I was operating mobile using a Radio Shack 4 ft CB vertical on a mag mount!  What a fantastic ground plane the sea made.  Contacts poured in from all directions.  What an exhilarating feeling being on the other end of the pileup!  I even worked my friends John, NL7HW in Delta Junction and Ken, AL7GA in North Pole on short skip (200-300 miles) with fair signals.  They both welcomed me to their state.  I'd worked John and Ken several times over the last two years while I was in New Jersey .  They both assured me that Alaska is where I needed to relocate to. 

N9GPK/mobile KL7 was having a great radio time, especially when KC4AAC, Palmer Station Antarctica, came back to my call.  I gave him a 5x5  sig report and op Mark at Palmer Station said he was sorry he could only give me a 4x4 back.  I told him "the 4x4 looks pretty FB in my log". 

The weather was very mild with temperatures in the low 20's during the day.  We both noticed how friendly the people were too.  We were both having such a good time playing tourist that we forgot to order turkey for our dinner on Thanksgiving Day.  We took in the championship game of the "Great Alaska Shootout" (basketball), a yearly event in Anchorage .


 

Although the trip was not all play, I did manage to find time for a couple of job interviews with local engineering firms.  I was so confident (and hopeful!) I'd receive a job offer that I rented a mailbox from the Mail Cache.  When I arrived back in New Jersey, I put in a FCC form 610 request for an Alaskan callsign.  On January 4th, 1990 I received NL7TB.  One month later I landed a job and hit the road for Anchorage !

THE MAGICAL YUKON
                                                                                                                      
Do you know of a place you've visited a hundred times or more and just can't seem to get enough of? Well, my place is the Yukon.  I've been trekking and Amateur Radioing from the magical Yukon since 1990 and something just keeps pulling me back for contests, special events or just to get away from it all. One of my favorite Yukon places is the spectacular Kluane Lake area. 

Kluane Lake straddles two small communities in the Yukon, namely Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay along the Alcan Highway. Kluane is Shoshoni for "Big Fish".
This beautiful body of fresh water is 50 mi. long by 6 wide.
Kluane Lake, Yukon
Kluane Lake, Yukon

The average temperature during the winter is 40-50 below zero and it's not unusual for the lake to keep its ice through late June.  Jacquot and Fish Heart (aka Silver City) are the only islands in the lake. Jacquot is the larger of the two islands.  Burwash Landing, home to about 100 hearty souls, is located at historic Milepost 1093 along the Alaska Highway, on the shore of beautiful Kluane (pronounced "kloo-WA-nee") Lake about 76 miles northwest of Haines Junction.  The tiny community is the traditional home of the Southern Tutchone Athabascans.  This is one of the oldest settlements in the Yukon. The original trading post was established in 1904 by the Jacquot brothers, Louis and Eugene, as a supply center for local miners. Sometime in the early 1960's, the big island was officially named after the Jacquot brothers.  A lodge was built here in 1944-45 to serve highway travelers.

Visitor services today include gas, food, camping and lodging at Burwash Landing Resort.

 

My book, BROTHERS IN THE YUKON, depicts life here for the Jacquot and Dickson brothers during the early Klondike Gold Rush era through today (book available through Yukon Archives in Whitehorse).  Most of this area today is virgin wilderness with its chief resources still buried under ice and glacial rocks.  Perhaps the most extraordinary episodes of Yukon history were the Klondike Gold rush and the building of the Alaska Highway.    

Both changed the history of the Yukon so drastically that it could never be undone.

 

 

73 de "Yukon John",  KL7JR        

Special Event op for VY1RST, VE8RST and KL7RST

 
Anchorage Sunset by KL7JR
Anchorage Sunset by KL7JR!

"ALASKA, YOU ARE"

A wondrous landmass of towering mountains, endless forests, islands galore in fish-abundant waters and Ice Age glaciers- Alaska is your name.

You host the midnight sun, northern lights, Mount McKinley and much, much more in your paradise of ice and snow. You are different things to different people. The alluring voice that so many hear but few heed. Your domain of rugged splendor and untamed beauty demands respect but seldom forgives mistakes.

An independent realm of opportunity, you are as diversified as your climate, wildlife and people. You are remote to all except your own. No roads lead to your capital and your closest neighbors are foreign to your ways. You are life-giving, yet number only approximately 525-thousand people (slightly higher than the population of Denver, Colorado).

You are "peace within ones self" when wanderlust runs deep in the soul. You are an everyday holiday, an outdoor playground where high tech meets the primitive frontier. You house exotic wildlife, including reindeer, caribou, musk ox and polar bear- they roam about you freely.

Unbelievers previously referred to you as a "folly and icebox" (Seward's), but look who's laughing now! A precious property wealthy with oil, fish and knowledge, you bring out the very best and sometimes the worst in people.
 
You are a state of mind where freedom prevails above all. Most of your people possess a positive attitude, knowing negative is defeatable. From your rain forests to your wide open tundra, you are beyond definition and almost too vast to comprehend. You have; 3-million lakes, 12 major rivers, 119-million acres of forests, 33-thousand miles of seacoast, about 100,000 glaciers and you border 2 oceans and 3 seas. Those are quite impressive measurements from the seductress of today who long ago gave up her territorial virginity. You collect no sales tax or state tax but instead financially and spiritually reward your inhabitants.

You are not for everyone- that in being your scheme to forever ensure a Last Frontier. I can't imagine what it would be like not living within your boundaries.



Go North John!
"Alaska, I stand humbly in awe of your magnificence and pledge always my allegiance, for you are home!"


Other Exciting Ham Radio Books by KL7JR
Wonderful reading for the Ham Radio Operator or the adventurer in you!

 Klune Lake Book Cover

Go North John
A life lived well in a place few people visit. A story of joy, hardship and a love of Amateur Radio in Alaska.
Author
 John Reisenauer, Jr. KL7JR
5 Stars!

Kluane Lake!
Yukon's "Ace in-the-Hole"
A Pictorial Essay of the Many Moods of Kluane Lake 2005-2010.
 John, KL7JR has captured mother nature's finest faces of Alaska
 with his glorious photography of Kluane Lake !
5 Stars!



 

Amateur Radio in Canada's North
Ride along with "Yukon John" KL7JR doing what he does best with his favorite hobby-
Amateur Radio! Includes 20 years of John's DX'ing adventures 
from 1989-2010!
5 Stars!
Get it as an "ebook"
$12.95
 See how to order below

Of Ice and Men 
OF ICE AND MEN
is an adventurous journey of researching some of Alaska's shrinking glaciers by KL7JR. Loaded with info you won't find elsewhere.
 
5 Stars!


Brothers In The Yukon! Alaska is really cool!

Brothers In The Yukon

BROTHERS IN THE YUKON
 is the most complete and comprehensive family autobiography today of the Jacquot and Dickson brothers who settled and tamed the Yukon's Kluane Lake area wilderness. Loaded with documentation and actual pictures on their struggles and family history dating back to 1888!
5 Stars!

Alaska is Really Cool!

A beautiful pictorial of Alaska awaits the reader, from local scenes in Anchorage to remote Alaska captured by John Reisenauer, Jr. John has lived the "Alaska dream" twice by calling the Last Frontier home. Photos taken 2009 to 2010 era.
5 Stars!



Pacific and Caribbean DX
KL7JR is doing what he does best - making HF contacts world-wide on wire and CB antennas from places most hams only dream of!

5 Stars!
Get it as an "ebook"
$12.95
 See how to order below

Extreme DX!!
More DXing adventures from KL7JR!
EXTREME DX is a striking compilation of some of KL7JR's most exciting DXpeditions from the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic to the Tropics of Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands!
5 Stars!
Get it as an "ebook"
$12.95
 See how to order below

All "print" books available from Lulu.com.
Do a search by title for them. See listing below for selected "ebooks"

To order the listed "ebooks above direct from Hamuniverse.com in pdf form, use the PayPal buttons below.
Normal delivery time to your email less than 24 hours!
Don't forget  to check your Spam folder for them after ordering!

Amateur Radio in Canada's North $12.95 pdf form 


Pacific and Caribbean DX $12.95 pdf form  


Extreme DX!! $12.95 pdf form  

 

More good reading and info about Alaska and the Yukon

State of Alaska Official Website

 

 

 




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