It was an early June,
1989 morning (12:30 am) when the British Aero 146 jet set down in
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.
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.
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
The next few months drug on
for me- all I could think about was Alaska and the Yukon .
I was hooked!
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.
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
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!
wondrous landmass of towering mountains, endless forests, islands galore
in fish-abundant waters and Ice Age glaciers- Alaska is your name.
Go North John!
"Alaska, I stand humbly in awe of your magnificence and pledge always my allegiance, for you are home!"
Books by KL7JR
Wonderful reading for the Ham Radio Operator or the adventurer in you!
"Any of these fine books would make a wonderful present
for a ham or those interested in the Far North or DX'ing! Fine Reading...N4UJW"
More interesting reading and information about Alaska and the Yukon: