POTA for the Soul: Lee’s “Fishing Hole Reflections”

Many thanks to Lee (K2LT) who shares the following guest post:

Fishing Hole Reflections

by Lee (K2LT)

Last week, I completed my 80th activation of a state forest very close to my home – Deer River State Forest (K-5199). That earned me what in POTA is called the “Fishing Hole” activator award. Compared with the achievements of other activators within POTA, it’s not at all a big deal. Yet as I sat on my camp stool in the snow in the middle of the woods last week with my radio, I realized how big of a deal it has been for me. There was no wind, I was surrounded by huge Red Pine trees, and the only noises were an occasional airplane, woodpeckers, ravens, and my CW signals. I was happy!

All of my activations of that spot haven’t been QRP but as I look back at my favorite memories from ham radio (I’ve been licensed for about seven years), they’ve been when I’ve put my gear into a backpack, found a secluded spot in the woods, sat on my campstool and operated from there.

This time of year is also my favorite. Our winters in Northern New York State (I’m only about 20 miles south of the Quebec border) are LONG. In late March when winter starts to lose its iron grip on our region, we’re all “chomping at the bit” for spring to arrive. Yet, as things get warmer in late April and May, the Adirondack black flies, mosquitoes, and deer flies will come out in force. In the fall, deer hunters populate the state forests and can make activations dangerous, and deep winter doesn’t often work unless I operate from my truck – numb fingers and CW operation don’t do well together. So, early spring is often the perfect time to be able to operate outdoors.

A couple of times, I’ve had POTA hunters inquire why I don’t post my activations prior to heading out. My wife and I have an adult disabled son in his twenties. We’ve made the commitment to keep him home with us as long as we can. As with all things in life, this decision comes with a cost. It means that I often only know at the last minute whether I’m going to be able to get out for a few hours. Having K-5199 so close has been a real blessing – I can get there and back quickly and do something that brings me a lot of enjoyment at the same time.

Learning CW in my fifties was a challenge, but the first time I saw a video of someone working an MTR-3B from a summit, I knew I had to try it. If I’m working a CW pile-up, I can’t be thinking about anything else. Deciphering signals and logging them correctly takes all the mental “bandwidth” that I’m able to muster; however, in an odd way, it’s also very refreshing – I get a vacation from the things that I’m usually preoccupied with.  I always come back mentally refreshed. I’m sure my wife and family appreciate the break I’ve had as well!

Even though I’m retired, I’ve been taking some online classes. One question that often comes up in the “Introduce Yourself” section is – “tell us something unique about yourself.” Years ago, I always struggled with this request, but not anymore. I sometimes respond by saying, “For me, being out in the woods with my radio making contacts is like an afternoon at the beach for someone else.”

Ham radio and portable operating have truly been a blessing for me and I’m thankful for them.

73, K2LT

10 thoughts on “POTA for the Soul: Lee’s “Fishing Hole Reflections””

  1. Lee,

    Thank you so much for sharing this message with us.

    I couldn’t agree with you more: playing radio in the field is pure “Radio Therapy.” I’ve always said that there are two things in my life that melt away all of my other worries and obligations: field radio and mountain biking. Both of them require my full attention as I’m enjoying them, both of them take place outdoors (I love being outside), and both are rewarding and fulfilling in more ways than I can possibly describe.

    Thank you, again, for sharing your story and here’s wishing you more fishing hole reflections!

    Best & 72,

    1. Thank you, Thomas. Your YouTube videos are fun and relaxing to watch! You always seem kind and polite with on-air hunters and chasers and the occasional person who approaches you when you’re activating. You set a great example for portable operators. 73, K2LT

  2. Hi Lee, my fellow sufferer of long NY winters. Thank you for your reflections on your fishing hole achievement. It’s always nice to learn something about the people who one meets on the air. The short POTA CW contacts don’t lend themselves to much else but the bare necessities. And thank you for all the contacts from the north country.

    Karl Heinz – K5KHK

    1. Thank you, Karl. I look forward to our next contact – hopefully in some warmer weather! 73, Lee K2LT

  3. Thank you Lee. My Hunter Log shows 16 contacts between you and I, three from K-5199. The next will have a different feel to it knowing a bit more about the operator on the other end. Thank you for that, and thank you Thomas for giving us all the opportunity to get to know each other a little better.

  4. from early-spring Wisconsin! It’s almost warm enough for outdoor activations here as well.
    Radio out in the field always leaves me relaxed and mentally refreshed in a way nothing else quite does.
    Thank you, Lee, and Thomas, for this story!
    Hope to meet you both on the air this year sometime!

  5. Thank you, Lee! Your very articulate style and honesty were a wonderful read! I am sure many of us realized congruence with you!
    Jay, K2ZT

  6. Lee, thank you for sharing your story. I, too, find peace and perspective by finding a quiet spot in the forest to meditate and play radio. My wife was house-bound for the past few years until I lost her in December. While I was not able to become an activator until after her passing, I found great comfort in early morning and late shift contacts, as I imagined myself out in the parks. Now that I am able to activate, being alone in the forest provides me with a salve for my wounds. I have great admiration for your family’s commitment. 72 and I hope to have you in my log one day. WD4EWZ

    1. Thank you, Bob. I’m sorry for your loss and am glad you’re able to go out and activate again. When my dad was receiving Hospice care, I did a SOTA activation and took a picture of Debar Mountain – my great grandfather was a fire ranger there and dad used to go stay with him and hang out in the tower in the summer when he was a child. I showed dad the picture that night and he enjoyed reminiscing about it.

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