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Hamming it up along the North Country Trail

Categories: News

by John Forslin

The National Park Service and American Ham Radio have hooked up celebrate the NPS Centennial this year. The connection is that radio has a huge reach, and this is an opportunity for the world to listen in as hams tell each other about the Parks units they are “activating.” And truth told, hams have a great time doing the “activating!”

Hauled battery and gear in on a Yooperscoop! Packed snow all the way so no stress. Hard assembling the antenna in -3 wind chill. Gloves came off for that! Chemical toe warmers helped, too! Photo by Kellie Barry-Angeli

So is ham radio still around? You bet! There are around 740,000 operators in the US.

The hobby has morphed over and over and has kept up with modern tech. Radio uses computers and the internet.

Hams bounce signals off the moon, northern light displays and meteor trails. Many hams help with service projects, and train with local emergency services to help in communications emergencies (fires, floods, hurricanes).

Activations are challenges – can we get equipment to a remote location, set up and operate successfully under adverse conditions?

The National Parks on the Air project is just a few weeks old and is already a stunning success in terms of getting hams out into park units and logging contacts.

The NCNST has been activated several times, with some venues being a little tougher than others. Hams “spot” activations by posting up about them on websites dedicated to this.

A few hams who are also Trail fans are plotting a Light Up the Trail weekend sometime in the spring, getting a few hams in each state the Trail traverses on the air on the same day. That would be very fun for the operators, too, and create considerable buzz about the scope of our Trail. Keep an eye on the NCTA e-mail newsletter for details.

You probably know active ham operators. Check with them if you can help on an activation or even just listen to some of the activity. Who knows – you might find yourself licensed before the years is out and playing along.

John Forslin, callsign KC8ULE
Marquette, Michigan