Kristopher Finstad: CB radio Field Day at Empire Mine

Bare feet dangle with knees bent over the edge of the hammock. Open shoes ready to slip on — to avoid feet burning on the ground. I’m fatigued and relieved from setting up a one- to two-person portable battery-powered amateur radio service operation.

A sedan pulled into an empty space at the edge of the site next to a Hardrock Trail trailhead, 500 feet out from the center radius. A blurry figure in uniform mismatched the vehicle.

A California State Park employee questioned: “Are you camping?”

“No, it’s Field Day through the Amateur Radio Relay League,” I said. “My license is KG6CXI: KILO-GOLF-SIX-CHARLIE X-RAY-INDIA”. I’ve operated from home the past few years.”

I pointed to antennas and radios cabled to them.

“I have antennas and radios — that model is similar to what I use at home,” she replied. “I didn’t see a car.”

“My mother has it downhill at the park just down the hill. Where we live.”

We were interrupted by a General Mobile Radio Service (WQWI657)/Family Radio Service repeater capable two-way radio as the FEMA Emergency Alert System tone broadcast from Wolf Mountain, FREQ 162.400 MHz, an urgent weather message: A flash flood warning for southern Lassen County and northern Plumas County.

I keyed-up as she left, locking the gate to the visitor center parking lot to Empire Mine State Historic Park.

“The National Weather Service for the Sacramento County Warning Area is currently broadcasting a flash flood warning. Please run your relays to whom you know may have family, friends or interests at the Dixie Fire burn scar. A rainfall rate of one inch per hour has been reported. Tune to NOAA Wx radio.”

Then the 2 m. band (146.520 MHz) hand-held left clipped to a hammock suspension system was left.

Mom ended up on the phone, “Should I bring dinner?”

“Yes. I do not have a table-cloth.”

“I do.”

She arrived. After eating she was shown how to seat herself in the hammock and given a handheld, and we went over the call sign, then I took a walking stick around the site. Sundown at 0334Z Sunday approached as a deadline to clear out of the area. I logged date and time information.

She attempted a contact.

“I scared them — they don’t like me.” Possible explanations followed. We made takedown complete and left the site before sundown.

“You have a good attitude about Field Day,” said Mom. “Everyone goes their own way. You get set up and are right there — when there is an emergency. It’s lonely, but others are just talking about things that they buy, that are not for everyone.”

“Yeah,” I said.

Christopher Finstad lives in Grass Valley.

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