POTA Activation VE-5658 Spirit Rock Conservation Area

Spirit Rock Conservation Area is located at the top of the escarpment in Wiarton, Ontario (home of one of Canada’s leading weather forcecasters, the albino groundhog “Wiarton Willie”, who issues only one weather prediction per year in February). Access to the park is difficult. It is easy to drive right past the main entrance on busy highway 6 without even seeing it. If you do make the turn you then have to negotiate a long, single-lane dirt trail leading to the main parking lot. That same trail is also the exit. There are several areas where vehicles going each way can pass each other, but very slow cautious driving is recommended.

Spirit Rock’s scary spiral staircase is part of the main Bruce Trail

I setup my station in the small grassy area right beside the Bruce Trail (VE-5628), spotted myself on the POTA website (pota.app) and began calling CQ.

The responses to my CQs were coming in well. I was listening to the exchange from one of the callers when my wife rushed across from her lawn chair a few feet away and frantically tried to tell me something. I couldn’t hear what she was saying because I had my ear buds in my ears and was listening to one of my hunters. I signalled her to wait a minute with a wave of my hand and she returned to her chair.

Eventually the pile-up started to slow down and I could glance up from time to time hoping to find out what she had been trying to tell me. Her eyes never left the trees a few feet away from where we were sitting. I noticed one of the trees was swaying. There was no wind and it was just that one tree that had moved.

When the responses slowed right down to nothing and my CQs were no longer bringing in the hunters I stood up and walked over to see what was going on. “There was a bear cub near the top of that tree” my wife told me, “and its mama was climbing up to help it”. Apparently, the cub was stuck at the top of the tall slender tree and was making plaintive cries for help. I looked but saw nothing; I was too late.

I haven’t been lucky enough to spot a black bear in Ontario, despite our frequent camping trips in bear country. My wife has now seen lots of them. I had to be satisfied that I had completed another activation (actually 2 activations since the activation was a “two fer”. The Bruce Trail VE-5628 runs right through the site).

The activation only took 10 minutes for the first 10 QSOs and made me “first activator” and “park leader” on both the number of activations and number of QSOs. I am sure the park leadership will be challenged at some point but I welcome the challenge!

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