by Gary Hawkins, July 3, 2016
I did not realize when I originally made this reservation for Table Mountain campground in Angeles National Forest, that our reservation coincided with the 2016 Ham Radio Field Day. As I think I've mentioned before, I'm a ham radio operator, K6YOA, and thus I put it down as a stroke of luck.
Table Mountain campground is set in a hilly, oak and pine forest with several large meadows and beautiful views. At an elevation of 7,000 feet, summer temperatures average in the low 80s with cool nights. The campground has over 100 campsites, but only a fraction can be reserved ahead of time - most are on a first-come, first served basis. Since it's a two-hour drive from San Diego, we only go if we have a booking.
Most people are familiar with ham or amateur radio, but probably not Field Day - this is the biggest day in the ham radio calendar and encourages emergency communications prepared among amateur radio operators. According to Wikipedia, "in the United States over 30,000 operators participate each year. To determine the effectiveness of the exercise for each participant's operations, there is an integrated contesting component, with contest points awarded for the number of contacts, bands used, experimenting with unusual modes, making contacts via satellite, and involving youth in the activity."
When we arrived, I setup my HF radio gear and was excited to participate. If you look carefully, you might be able to see my G5RV HF antenna suspended above the teardrop.
Unfortunately, my excitement did not last long! I was running too little RF power to be heard in the mass of stations operating across every available band. After a few slow hours, I gave up, and we went looking for other Field Day stations who were apparently working from the same mountain top location.
We did not have to search for long. Not only was the first station we found impressive, but it was also operated by my friend John, WA6TQT, and some of his buddies. John owns one of the largest ham radio stations on the entire West Coast - an imposing facility located in Azna, CA. It became apparent this was their annual Field Day location, and I was thrilled to see him again.
Sophia and John, WA6TQT, Field Day 2016 -Table Mountain
Later that day we found the other major station operating on the mountain. They too had an impressive setup and like John's group had been coming to the same spot for many years.
Xaria Enjoying a Walk Around the Table Mountain Campground
As well as ham radio operators, we also saw some vintage trailers at the campground. We never met the owners, but we did admire their accommodation.
An aside: in early in 2016 we got a vanity plate for our beloved Little Guy 5 Wide teardrop - ♥Xaria. Since our daughter Xaria loved teardroppin' so much it seemed appropriate. I mentioned this cause it's kind of cute. For simplicity sake when I mention Xaria in future posts I'll be talking about our daughter, and our Little Guy 5 Wide will just be known as our teardrop.