POTA Activation at Killbear Provincial Park VE-0254

Killbear Provincial Park is on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay just north of Parry Sound Ontario. XYL Krystyna, myself and shack assistant Trunkles, our faithful 15-year-old English Setter (now sadly SK), were camped in the park for 3 nights in the fall of 2021.

Killbear is a beautiful park with great beaches and probably wouldn’t have been quite so tranquil if we had visited during the height of the summer. But it was late September and we were enjoying our trip during what is termed the “shoulder season” when the number of visitors has dropped enough to enjoy some peace and quiet.

The famous Killbear Tree. It appears to be growing out of solid rock!

Was that a Bear?
We had a nice campsite right by the lake and in the evening of the first night we had a visit from a large adult deer who grazed cautiously right beside where we had parked our trailer. Just after dark on the second night I saw a large, dark, shadowy animal moving swiftly through the same area before splashing heavily into the water a few yards away. It could have been one of the numerous black bears that live in the park, but I could not be sure.

VA3KOT’s POTA station inside our trailer

Apart from the chance to commune with nature for a few nights, the highlight of my trip was an activation of the park for the Parks On The Air (POTA) program. Our first evening was spent setting up camp, but by the second day my antenna was ready. I used my coil-shortened 80m End-Fed-Half-Wave wire. I set it up as an inverted-V with the apex about 35 feet up supported by a tree. The antenna is almost resonant in the CW portion of the 20m, 40m and 80m bands. I used my home made L-match tuner to fine tune for best SWR on 20m then quickly made 15 contacts, overtaking the 10 QSOs required for a successful activation. It was a good haul including Alaska, Puerto Rico and the UK.

I prefer paper logging during an activation

The next day I tuned up on 40m and successfully achieved a second activation. 40M tends to produce more local contacts than 20m. I was hauling them in from states all around the northeast. Then the 10th QSO, and the one that qualified the successful activation was a Canadian station. The signal came in very clearly, an easy 599. I logged the callsign VE3PQ. Just a minute, I thought, that sounds familiar.

“Is that you Paul?” I sent. Yes indeed, it was Paul Edgely VE3PQ a fellow member of the Georgian Bay Amateur Radio Club. Paul told me he had tried to contact me on 20m the day before but I didn’t hear him. I guess I was in his skip zone for 20m. Anyway, what a pleasant surprise to QSO with a fellow club member.

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