3000km, 13 Days and 5 Activations: Rattlesnakes

After what seemed like a very long and wet journey, heading south for 75km to Sault Ste Marie, then 300km east across the top of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay to Sudbury, then south again for another 80km, we arrived safely at our destination of Grundy Lake Provincial Park. Our total journey had been 455km and, with some relief, our leaky tire had managed to stay inflated all the way.

Not Again, Not This Time
Grundy Lake Provincial Park has been a regular stopover for us on our trailer camping trips. It is a POTA entity, VE-0224, that I have activated at least three times in the past. I could have set up and activated it yet again but I had another target in mind.

Rattlesnakes Hiding Everywhere
A few kilometers back up Highway 69 lies the French River Provincial Park (VE-0218). I had visited this park before but it was crowded at the time so I hadn’t attempted to activate it. There are multiple warning signs about the park’s population of Eastern Massassauga Rattlesnakes. The snakes habitat extends throughout the park so I figured it would be safest to operate my radio from the truck in the parking lot.

A Very Flat Tire
We stayed at Grundy Lake for two nights but I was too busy for radio on the only full day we had there. In the morning of that day I checked our truck’s leaky tire and it was nearly flat! Grundy Lake is a long way from anywhere, but I knew it would be necessary to get the tire repaired before we undertook the final drive back home.

I inquired at the Grundy Lake Supply Post, just outside the park, and was told the only option for getting the tire repaired was a village garage 50km away. We drove there and, fortunately, the friendly, helpful garage staff managed to get the job done despite being very busy.

The French River south of Sudbury Ontario

Last Chance
The final morning we were due to make a return trip home to Owen Sound. It would be a fairly easy 300km drive down Highway 69 which feeds into Highway 400 which would then take us most of the way back to Owen Sound.

If I was quick I could just squeeze in a trip to French River to attempt the activation. The decision was easy, the rain had stopped, the Sun was shining and the mission got a green light from the XYL (“She Who Must Be Obeyed”).

The highway had just been expanded to four lanes in that area. Brand new, easy-to-navigate intersections made the short trip to French River really easy. When I arrived I had the park almost to myself. My only companion was a small RV from Quebec whose occupants must have been “boondocking” there for the night. Overnight camping in the park is against the rules, but there were no park staff present to enforce the rules.

I setup and checked my phone to see if I had a signal. I did, so I self-spotted on the POTA website and started calling CQ. Responses started coming in very quickly and a pile-up developed within a few seconds. In a half hour I logged 20 QSOs before the hunters stopped calling.

My log ended up with only 19 QSOs when I discovered I had one invalid callsign. It didn’t check out on QRZ.com so I deleted it from the log. Two stations had been calling me at the same time and their info became mixed up. It was disappointing but these things happen in the hectic world of Parks On The Air activations.

Les Voyageurs
The French River flows from Lake Nippissing into Georgian Bay and was a canoe route for the Voyageurs during the days of fur trading. I took some pictures from the impressive snowmobile bridge over the river canyon then headed back to Grundy Lake to begin the drive home.

Our adventure had covered over 3000km; it had taken 13 days to complete with camping stays at 5 different provincial parks. Two of those parks were activated on my previous visits and were omitted from the radio schedule this time around. But with two additional, non-camping parks activated this trip, a total of five successful activations were added to the VA3KOT tally.

A very successful and enjoyable trip!

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