POTA camping in West Virginia and focusing on the radio journey

As I mentioned in a previous post, instead of going to Hamvention this year, I went on a POTA expedition with my buddy Eric (WD8RIF) and his son Miles (KD8KNC) in West Virginia.

Just a random roadside waterfall.

In short? It was a brilliant trip!

Amazing WV

The New River Gorge

West Virginia is such a beautiful state and it’s absolutely chock-full of state and national parks. Eric and I were left scratching our heads as to why there are so few activations in many of West Virginia’s most accessible parks.

The iconic New River Bridge

In fact, though it’s still relatively early in the season, we found the parks to be rather busy with tourists from across the globe.

We set up camp at Babcock State Park and used it as our home base to activate numerous parks in the area. In the late evenings we activated Babcock from the comfort of our campsite.

The Grist Mill at Babcock State Park.

I didn’t bring Hazel on this trip, but Eric brought his little dog, Theo– A.K.A “The Great Warg”–who was our little POTA mascot and certainly our ambassador at each site.

The Great Warg enjoying a little ice cream at Dixie’s Drive-In in Anstead, WV.

Theo attracted a lot of attention from pretty much anyone and everyone. That little guy never meets a stranger.

On a mission

Our goal wasn’t to activate as many parks as possible, rather it was to enjoy camping, sightseeing, and simply hanging out together during our activations.

Wow–what a success!

I stole Eric’s K1 field kit and used it to activate Hawk’s Nest State Park. Only made me wish I’d never have sold my K1 some 10 years ago!

If you’ve been on the air the past few days, you’ll have noticed that band conditions have been pretty rough and unstable at times.

We met this confident little guy while hiking at Hawk’s Nest SP.

We had to allocate more time than normal to work our ten contacts needed for a valid park activation.

That was perfectly fine, though, because the scenery at our activation sites was simply spectacular. I just hope the rushing waters didn’t create too much QRN in my videos!

Gauley River at the Summersville Hydroelectric Project

We also learned early on that (since we had no band pass filters in tow) it was best that we work non-harmonically-related bands simultaneously and, of course, separate our stations as far apart as reasonable at each site. When Eric was on 40 or 20 meters, I was on 30 and 17 and vice versa. It worked out pretty well.

Time management…

Now that I’m back at the QTH, I’ll pull the videos from my camera then process and upload them. I’m currently a good four weeks behind on field reports.

Thurmond Depot

If you’ve tried to contact me recently, you’ll notice I’m also at least two or more weeks behind on email as well. Unfortunately, there’s simply not enough time in the day and I need to sort out a better way to handle questions from readers and subscribers. I love answering emails and attempt to reply to each and every one, but the amount of time it takes to manage email is actually now taking a significant bite out of my content creation time. Between QRPer.com and the SWLing Post, I receive an average of 25-40 messages per day from readers, many of which are new to the site. Those stack up rapidly when I’m traveling or out and about doing activations.

I receive questions about choosing gear, asking about operating practices, and general advice on a variety of radio topics. They’re all great questions, but I feel like I’m a bit of a bottleneck in terms of delivering answers.

I might build a discussion board or create an email group where people can find community support. I certainly welcome your thoughts and comments on this.

I need to take action soon, because I’ve got a lot of travels planned this summer and will be off-grid for days at a time.

If I’m being perfectly honest, another reason why I didn’t attend Hamvention this year is because I knew it would only add to my work and correspondence load right before nearly two months of planned travels.

Our POTA camping expedition was a more relaxing option than Hamvention for 2022. (You can bet I’ll be at the 2023 Hamvention, though!)

Sharing the journey

Indeed, this trip reminded me why I do what I do here: I love to share the radio journey.

On that note, I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with kind comments from readers and subscribers. It’s humbling and I’m most grateful to each and every one of you. Thank you so much!
Sharing the radio journey is indeed my main focus here on QRPer.com and on my YouTube channel. Sharing my journey and yours via the many excellent guest posts I’ve received.

I’ll sort out a way to manage correspondence in due time and, in the meantime, I appreciate your understanding.

Thanks for reading this post and many thanks to Eric and Miles for an amazing trip exploring the rivers and mountains of West Virginia! I can’t wait to do this again.

Indeed, this trip has me absolutely energized about the activations I’m plotting in Canada this summer. Stay tuned!

32 thoughts on “POTA camping in West Virginia and focusing on the radio journey”

  1. Dayton was basically a social event this year lots of overpriced vintage equipment
    The dealers had some new products but it wasn’t worth the drive. From Canada

  2. Hello Tom,
    You going to WV gave me the opportunity to work you and Eric. With today’s band conditions, your home area of operations is often too close. I am glad you had fun. Next month I am taking a trip to south GA and activate a park down there. I am trying to get out about once a month. Cheers!

    1. It was fantastic working you–thank you! You’ll have fun in Georgia. It’s also a beautiful state with many, many parks!

  3. Yes, I was able to make one QSO with you out of all the spots I heard over the weekend 🙂

    Joe – AI5DD

  4. What glorious countryside in which to POTA!

    I’m adding a bit of camping to my Radio itinerary over the next few months — but your tents put my little 2-man to shame 🙂

    What did you eat?
    I’m a keen ‘cook’ and always try to cook ‘fresh’ when camping or at least try to sample the local fare.

    Bruce G4ABX

    1. We had one two person and one three/four person tent. Mine was the four person one and dates back to 1995!

      We’d planned to do much more cooking, but timing and weather did interference with evening plans. Miles cooked an amazing dinner one night, though. Everything always tastes better when cooked outdoors. 🙂

    1. I thought about that, but according to their pricing, it would be a very expensive option based on my audience size. I’m guessing about $64 a month assuming a group size of 1500. QRPer has an average daily readership of 2,000-4,000 people.

      I had always assumed Groups.io was very affordable or even free, but perhaps that was for much smaller groups?

      1. Oh, it looks like groups.io has changed their policies. I’m a member of a couple of groups with over 1,000 members, and am not aware of anyone paying for them, but according to their current pricing page the free accounts are capped at 100 members. Maybe they “grandfathered” the established groups bigger than that. Oh, well.

        If you don’t mind administering another server-side app, phpBB is pretty much the standard for self-hosted forums. It’s been years since I ran a phpBB installation, but I recall the process being about as straightforward as WordPress. And it’s Open Source, so no worries about future price hikes.

        1. Actually, phpBB is the route I’m now planning to take. I like this sort of discussion group because they’re easy to search. I’ve already started an installation and will see about setting up everything.

        1. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check this out as perhaps a supplement to a discussion board.

  5. Yes WV is a beautiful state, though I live in Western VA with nice hills and mountains around me also. Next time I head to Wayne, WV I’ll take my radio with me.

    This weekend was busy for me so was not on the air at all.

    I am planning on Dayton for 2023.

    Thanks for sharing your trip.
    Fr Richard

  6. What a beautiful place. So glad you got to take the trip Thomas. Hopefully you got some of the scenery on video as well. Glad to work you qrp to qrp in horrid band condx.

  7. You can’t just just drop a hint that you’ll be activating in Canada without telling us what part! Hope to hear you or cross paths in a park somewhere nearby in VE land!
    Rod VA3MZD

    1. And heshouod be reminded of special prefixes for tye queen’s jubilee. May 15 to July 14.

      She was only queen for twenty years when I was licensed.

      I wonder if the governor general has a ham license? Her brother, the pilot, sounds like the type.

  8. I worked both you and Eric, for the first time, over the weekend. Signals weren’t strong up here in NW lower MI, but solid copy. You have kindled in interest in POTA for me, and I’m getting ready to take my KX3 to some local parks.

  9. What is great about this is the real enthusiasm to go out and have fun. However there seems to be a slight hesitancy of getting things wrong. Trial and error got me to where I want to be only it’s 40 years plus getting here.

    One person alone can’t handle all the query’s so in my humble opinion a user group of like minded people should help. Some basic rule: kindness, understanding and empathy etc and some form of moderation? but in my fellow ham I trust.

  10. Hey Tom;
    I’ve been interested in your pictures of various posts and would like to know what camera you are using; outstanding quality … I am not a pro, just like the photos .. thanks

    Bob Truelove

    1. Hi, Bob,

      So most of these were actually taken with my Google Pixel 3 phone. I don’t have phone service on it, I just use it for photos and the odd video. I’ve been really impressed with it’s clarity and color. Not a DSLR, but effective and portable.


  11. I’ll throw in my $0.02 (not counting inflation). I think a board of some kind would be a good idea, but find someone else (with prior related experience) to administer the daily details of it, else you’ll find your time shifts from answering emails to keeping the board running. Of course, you’d still have full admin privileges.

    Another point – please don’t do Discord. While it’s fine for running conversations (as it was designed for gamers), in my experience it’s wretched for actually retaining information, the way a regular board is.

    You’re doing an excellent job, as evidenced by your sites’ growth and how frequently they pop up in my radio-related searches!

  12. Thank you all for the excellent suggestions!

    I’ve decided to create a forum for QRPer (and a separate one for the SWLing Post) with phpBB.

    I like the fact that it’s easy to set up, robust, open source, and very searchable.

    I will be reaching out to folks to be moderators because I want this forum to be a safe space for everyone regardless of radio experience or areas of interest. In other words–like the comments here on QRPer.com–it’ll be a troll-free space with kind and understanding folks.

    I’ve already started setting it up and will announce it shortly. I’m new to phpBB, so this will be a learning experience and I appreciate your help!


    1. Thomas, that is great to hear! You have gathered a great sub community that seems to be very positive and supportive. I will look forward to seeing it.

      Douglas K1GC

  13. Hi Thomas – I heard you on one time but was unable to get through – quite a pileup. Glad you had fun – I would like to try that myself someday.

  14. Propagation wise it was rough going from my end. But that was a cool looking hike/pota operation.

    As usual cool pics and fyi I got my Subaru ascent, it came in. And you are correct it is a great vehicle. Only 30mi on it but what an upgrade from my 2011 Gr Cherokee de AD8EV

    Thanks for the info


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