In passing through the web, you may have accidentally come across the term “ham radio“, and like myself you probably ignored the term and just kept on surfing the web. As it turns out, about four years ago, I started working for a small telecommunications company whose sole purpose is selling 2-way radio networks, designed networks, business internet, monitoring and maintenance of communications systems. While I learned about the company’s operations as a clerk during the week, on the weekend I went out to explore the countryside and mountains on foot. On one particular excursion, I realized my cellphone had zero signal and had lost signal on the drive up. Driving back I read a trucking radio channel sign with frequencies “148.30-151.75” and “170.25-174.50”, which meant there is coverage in the area, if you have a 2-way radio.
This is when I began investigating for personal reasons more about 2-way radios, the capabilities of the portable or hand-held device and how this would improve my abilities as a hiker to stay in communication with the outside world? Especially if “something happened” during a hiking trip; a severely twisted ankle, a broken limb, an animal attack or if someone else was in dire need of rescue.
Many respectable hiking websites talked about “personal locator beacons” or a “PLB” which in case of an emergency, you push a button and it sends out a distress signal to an emergency room located typically someplace in the United States. The people at this unknown location, contact the nearest Search and Rescue operation to where you are located and dispatch them. On average a Search and Rescue crew arrives onsite at your GPS locator in less than 5-hours. And for an annual fee of $150 to $500, plus the cost of the PLB device ($100 to $1,000), you can feel safe while you on your next outdoor adventure.
Here’s the thing, I love my freedom, to travel about in the countryside, climbing mountains or hiking through canyons, in search of wilderness and to see nature as it is. This means, I am likely to see wildlife, be tracked by cougars, have a run in with a moose, a bear or a mountain goat. Of course, I have seen the signs of these wild animals; broken twigs, prints in the soil, half rubbed trees and scat. The good thing, I suppose, I’ve never met one face-to-face. And if, it ever comes to that, I am sure my instincts and training will kick in.
The part which scares me more than wild animals, is the accidental tripping and spraining an ankle or breaking a limb. And I’m not one to give up and wait from a Rescue Helicopter ride. So, the next logical choice for a guy like me, is a 2-way portable radio. Something I can keep stashed in my pack, just in case things get a little hairier than I want them to. And a way to communicate back to the local Fire Outpost on top of a mountain a bunch of kilometres away.