K3ES’ Hike with Molly: The POTA Dog In-Training!

Many thanks to Brain (K3ES) who shares the following guest post:

“Hey!  I can be a POTA Dog.  Let’s go on a hike!”

A Hike (and Activation) with a POTA Dog In-Training

by Brian (K3ES)

PA State Route 66 Trail-head on K-4239

A plan for a Hike and an Activation

A couple of Wednesdays ago, I decided to take a hike along the North Country Trail.  It would not only provide some needed exercise on a beautiful day, but it would also take me into Pennsylvania Game Land #024, enabling a 2-fer activation of K-4239 and K-8725.  I had hiked this stretch of the trail several times before, so I figured it would be safe taking one of our dogs along for the trip.

Jojo (front) and Molly (back) are not happy about this staged picture.

Molly and Jojo are two rescued Boston Terriers, who have made our home their own since October of last year.  Each has her own character.  Molly is exuberant, very friendly, and frankly, a bit of a bulldozer.  Jojo is pure sun bunny, preferring to find a bright patch of lawn, then lay there soaking up the heat.  Once installed in a sunny spot, Jojo doesn’t like to move.  So, it seemed natural to invite Molly along for the afternoon hike.  The only potential issue was the planned stop for a park activation.  I was almost certain that Molly would enjoy the walk, but how would she handle the period of inactivity?  There was only one way to find out.

Jojo in her natural habitat:  sunbathing in the back yard.
Molly on the run.

Since solar conditions had been keeping the radio bands rough and unpredictable, I decided to start my QRP CW activation in the middle of the afternoon.  Beginning the activation at 3pm EDT meant that my first hour would overlap with the popular CWT sprint, so I planned to start on the 30m band to avoid trying to compete with my 5 watt signal.  More importantly, the timing would let me finish on the 40m band later in the afternoon, when I have always found it to be productive.

Molly supervises CW operations during the 2-fer Activation.

The plan was set and an activation was scheduled in POTA.app to begin at 3pm EDT, so detection by the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) would assure automatic spotting.  We left home just after 1pm, drove to the trail head, and started our hike to the activation point.  Our travel and the station setup went quicker than expected.  Even after securing Molly on her leash, with space to move around and drinking water in reach, all was ready to begin by 2:30pm.  Fortunately, there was sufficient cell coverage to let me directly enter an early spot.  Despite the early start, I stayed with my original plan to begin on the 30m band.


Contacts on 30m came slowly, but I was able to confirm the activation with 11 contacts in just over an hour.  Since the CWT sprint was continuing, I moved over to 17m to see if I could pick up some more distant contacts, but it was not to be.  I heard one strong signal on 17m – calling CQ over me.  I am confident that the operator did not hear me on the frequency, particularly since he did not pick up my call when I responded to his CQ.  Not only that, but my 5 watt signal did not even manage to attract the notice of the RBN.  I took that episode as a sign that it was time to QSY.

Logs from the activation filled up the last 2 pages of one notebook, and the first page of a second notebook.

Since it was past 4pm EDT, and the CWT sprint was finished, I moved over to 20m.

I picked up 3 quick contacts, hunted another station as a park-to-park contact, then moved on to 40m.  As expected, 40m in the late afternoon was productive, and I logged 22 more contacts in the final 45 minutes on the air.  I was pleased to have 37 contacts in my log, and with 5pm approaching, it was time to pack up and head for home.

QSO Map from this activation.


Note: All Amazon links are affiliate links that support the QRPer.com at no cost to you.

Molly with gear laid out for operation.
My POTA go-kit packed and ready for the hike back to the truck.

POTA Dog Perspective

Molly leads the way up the trail.

This late afternoon activation was a success.  Molly and I hiked 3 miles out and back along the North Country Trail.  She led the way on the hike in both directions, and had a knack for staying on the path.  I spent almost 2-1/2 hours on the air for the activation, and Molly waited patiently, mostly staying right beside me as I called CQ POTA and logged contacts.  She didn’t complain or try to wander off, and she was patient with being an hour late for dinner (she normally begins alerting you that dinner time is coming half-an-hour before it arrives, just to be safe).

The North Country Trail skirts along the edge of a meadow…
…that surrounds an old beaver dam complex…
…when the beavers were more engaged in their dam activity, this pontoon bridge floated along its entire length, making for an interesting crossing.  As it is, the foot boards are covered in expanded metal mesh, and Molly did not like it!

During our hike, Molly and I had to contend with some causeways over swampy areas.  She mostly did well with them, but some of the causeways were covered with expanded metal mesh to provide traction for booted trail-users.  That mesh did not feel quite right on her paws, and she preferred to walk beside the mesh-covered causeways through the swamp, whenever possible.  But this stretch of the trail also has a pontoon bridge, and its deck is also covered with expanded metal mesh.  Since walking beside the bridge was not an option, Molly braved that crossing like a trooper in both directions.

Molly led the way back, too.  Your photographer was not quick enough on the draw to get a picture of the deer that attracted great interest…

One particular highlight on the return trip came when a deer jumped across the trail ahead of us, and bounded away.  Molly was very interested to find out where it was going, but never got the chance.  Since I was holding her leash, I was grateful that she didn’t dislocate my shoulder in attempting to follow her new friend (I think I mentioned that she is a bit of a bulldozer…).  The second highlight of the return trip was arriving back at the truck.  Molly was in her seat, and ready to drive home for dinner, just as quick as you please.

Whew!  We are finally back to the truck!
OK!  Let’s go already!  It’s past my dinner time!

We will definitely be doing this again!

Best 73 de Molly (and Brian – K3ES)

7 thoughts on “K3ES’ Hike with Molly: The POTA Dog In-Training!”

  1. Brian, I can’t think of a better way to enjoy an early Sunday morning cup of coffee! Thank you!
    I absolutely love this field report with Molly. 🙂 Like Molly, Hazel is ready to go on a hike at a moment’s notice. When we get to an activation spot–assuming there’s no wildlife to fret over–she is quite happy to chill out and listen to some CW tones. In fact, most of the time I set up my station, she does what she does best: naps. 🙂
    Thank you so much for sharing this field report. Molly is a proper POTA dog! And, hey! Maybe someday Jojo will join you for one of those drive-up POTA activations in a sunny spot where she can be a proper solar panel!

  2. Brian:

    Thanks for sharing your activation with all of us. What a pretty place for POTA.

    Molly seems like a great POTA dog. I need to do the same with my dog Daisy. I think I am nearly ready to juggle an activation and her at the same time. Thank you and Molly for the inspiration!

    Teri KO4WFP

  3. Thanks! Molly is a great POTA buddy! Truth be told, I’ve had both Molly and Jojo along on a few parking lot activations where they have patiently waited in the back seat of the truck. They’ve even gone on picnic activations when Becky was along to keep them entertained. This was our first hiking activation, and it will definitely not be the last!

    Best 73 de Brian – K3ES

  4. lBrian,

    Great activation, Molly did a really good job! Congrats on such a great activation & documentation 73

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.