Hiking trails do not follow cell phone coverage areas.  Have you ever wondered what you would do in the event of a life threatening emergency when you were on a backpacking trip? I have pondered how I would contact someone – ANYONE – if I had to get out of the backcountry in a hurry but could not.  I try not to go out alone but what if a companion went down and you had to go to get help…and then your vehicle didn’t start or worse – you fall in the rush to get to a vehicle and cannot move?

In the backcountry cell phone coverage can be very irregular due to mountains, canyons and ravines etc., that is why I studied to get my Ameteur Radio License.  I strongly reccommend the process to anyone who likes to hike or bike in the wilderness.  HAM Radio Clubs and enthusiasts operate and maintain repeaters around the world so communication can always be achieved in the event of any dissaster or emergency.  

With my handheld Yaesu VHF handheld vx-170_thumb1radio and the testing I have completed in the Okanagan area to date, I am confident that I will always be able to communicate in times of emergency. If you have hiked much of a distance at all in British  Columbia, you know it doesn’t take much to be out of bounds of cell phone coverage.  The cool thing about having a HAM Radio license is that with todays technology and a bit of studying, one can enable your handheld radio to communicate via radio to mountain top repeaters to telephone and internet!  In adition to communicating one can have a constant gps location transmitted so others at home can follow your footsteps as you discover new hiking trails. 

Now my next step is to learn Morse Code – just for the challenge.  If you can help me with suggestions please comment below.  I will be using internet programs and practice programs to achieve a minimum of 13 words per minute.

Clayton Kessler – VA7CBK


Online Morse Code Practice

Free Morse Code Program

Orchard City Ameteur Radio Club – Kelowna’s Radio Club