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 "I'm Freezing My Butt Off Looking for a Piece of Paper"!
by KL7JR

It's toooo cold to make this very long so have fun reading.

Winter contesting up north is most challenging.  Usually we fight the cold and poor propagation, caused by the Northern Lights or solar flares, but sometimes we get a break and really rock on HF!

And sometime we battle storms just getting there,
 or dumb caribou who think they own the road.

I say road, because the Alaska Highway is the only way
 in and out of Alaska by vehicle!


The challenges are sometimes overwhelming, but the feeling of accomplishment is incredible.

My favorite ARRL contests are the November Sweeps and the 10 Meter competitions.
I have several first place Yukon certificates hanging on my shack wall.

We'd leave Anchorage around 9 am and head for Beaver Creek, Yukon, the closest Yukon town 550 miles away.  We'd be packed the night before - the A3S tribander with pre-assembled elements that just pin to the boom in the field, so that in it self saves time when it's 40 below!  It's always 40 below in the Yukon for ARRL's November Sweepstakes Contest.  Since setting up time is minimized, we have more time for operating.

Oh, did I mention it's dark or nearly dark when we hit the Yukon, about 8 hours later, so we set up using the headlights of our vehicle (usually my long bed Ford van or motor home).

Our secondary antenna for 40 and 80m is usually a long, low hung dipole which helps us a lot for contest Qs. 
We'd also tune the WARC bands with it for pre and post contest fun.

Usually we hang out in the Yukon at least 4 full days to take advantage of the expense of the trip.  One valuable lesson learned was that propane stops flowing at 40 below F, so the RV's main heater is useless. 
We always have a 5 KV generator to power our rig and 1.5 KW amp and lights (shhh, don't tell anyone since the maximum allowable power level in Canada is 750 watts!).

I remember one trip when we left the motor home running almost the entire trip (which is what we usually do, because once you turn it off, it usually is hard to restart - you only have to learn that lesson once!) with it's heater on full blast and had two 1500 watt electric heaters powered by the generator that struggled to keep the coach at about 55 degrees inside - and I had a small, 22 foot motor home too.  It was nice to warm our hands on top of the amp! 
I guess that gave us a reason to run full power.

For bathroom breaks, we'd tough it outside,

and for bathing we'd use a 5 gallon bucket of water and sponge bathe in the 55 degree comfort of the RV.

Meals were prepared on the stove, if we had propane, or in the microwave oven. 

I also remember one trip I BBQ'd steaks and potatoes/green beans outside
 when it was 35 below.

I wasn't eating any steaks cooked in the mic, hi hi!  It was a delicious meal and the left overs served as our breakfast.  Refueling the generator was always fun, especially early in the morning.  It was a two person job - one had to hold the flashlight while the other poured the gas.  On a typical 4 day trip, the thirsty generator would drink over 20 gallons of gas.

Ahh, the good old days, and all this for a piece of paper for the shack wall!

73, John KL7JR


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