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River Road Campsite

Horseback image
This is the nightly meeting at the River Road campsite.
Back to W8H, Horses on the Air!.

This is the group! There are about 50 riders this year. This is down from the 400+ they had back in the 1980s! I heard that federal regulations limited the number to 250 some years ago but that these days, for whatever reason, attendance is way below that.

We arrived at this campsite on Thursday afternoon. As we pulled in, Diane met us and directed us to a spot near theirs. This is where I learned how to install the 'picket line' for Magic, and how to prepare his water buckets. These are essential tasks I would perform each morning. After that, we attended our first 'happy hour', which is an informal meeting of any number of campers. Then it was time for the formal nightly meeting, directed by Gale Gunders, our 'Trail Boss'.

As darkness approached, I turned to setting up my antenna. That’s when I discovered that I hadn’t actually packed my G5RV! In haste, I had actually just grabbed coils of ladder-line, coax, and copper-clad steel antenna wire that were piled in the garage on top of my antenna. I had enough, tough, so I spent Thursday night making a new antenna.

I learned how serious horse people get when they find a wire laying in the grass. I also discovered that they did not appreciate the generator and lights I had running while measuring and cutting. The rule that generators are ok till 10 PM, which was articulated at the formal meeting, is a State regulation and not a consensus from the campers. In fact, they highly value quiet and darkness. I did finish making the antenna, but had to wait till late the next morning to get it into the trees.

On Friday morning, Michelle and her friend Diane trailered their horses to Oscoda. They rode into the water of Lake Huron to start their ride! At the same time, Diane’s husband, Ed, began his horse ride from River Road to Oscoda. They would meet on the trail. After reaching Lake Huron, Ed would take the truck and trailer that Diane had left and returned to the campsite.

I wanted to get on the radio, but felt that pictures of Michelle and Magic wading into Lake Huron were more important. I unhooked our truck and drove to the Oscoda beach. After snapping pictures, I took time to edit and upload what I had so far for this website. I thought it might be my last chance to connect my phone hot-spot. In fact, connecting was not a serious problem anywhere along the trail. The real problem was finding time.

I got back to camp just behind Ed, and turned to getting on the air. The situation was less than ideal because the trees were closely spaced Red Pine, about 50’ tall. The dipole was not straight or flat and the ladder-line was not vertical. I was glad to find that it loaded up well, but bands were pretty dead and I had very little time to operate. Michelle arrived on her horse, and I had to turn to other matters. Before I knew it, nightfall was approaching, and I had to pack up for the next early morning. Someone said, you worked so hard to get that antenna up and now you’re taking it down! I said that this was my favorite part and that I didn’t really like talking on the radio much anyway. (Sour grapes!). I did not take any pictures of the radio station at this campsite.

I made only four contacts from the River Road campsite. The first was a 20 m CW QSO to Hungary. A neighbor recognized Morse code and came over to tell me about his experiences with it in the military. He was able to copy some of what I had said. That was cool, and it was fun telling people that I talked with someone that far away from their campsite. But I decided to move to 40 m after that in order to work state-side stations.

For the record, cell service probably was available from the campsite, and anything essential could be bought from stores in Oscoda, which is only 12 miles away. There wasn’t anything like a lake or river access near the camp, which is the case with all these camps. They were built by horse riders for horse riders. Other people can use them, but they are not destination type campsites.

On to South Branch Trailcamp!

USDA page for River Road Trail Camp

Google Maps page for River Road Trail Camp

Google Earth page for River Road Trail Camp