On Friday, January 5, 2024, I looked at Hazel and could tell that, despite the chilly temps, she wanted to go on a late afternoon hike. I did, too, for that matter and why not combine the hike with a POTA activation?
In addition, we were expecting a winter storm to move in that night, so hitting the trail in advance of the snow and ice seemed to make sense.
Before I could get my boots on, Hazel was waiting by the car door to jump in.
Mountains-to-Sea State Trail (K-8313)
One of the closest long trails near my QTH is the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST).
I can actually hike to the MST from my QTH, but it takes a good hour and half to do so. It’s much easier to drive to one of the numerous nearby trailheads, and that’s exactly what Hazel and I did. I drove to one of my favorite Blue Ridge Parkway POTA spots where a short manway connects to the MST.
Hazel was so excited to hit the trail. (I was, too.)
At the end of the day (because, it was nearing the end of the day) we couldn’t hike for long if I planned to also complete a POTA activation. Sunset was at 5:29 PM local and I didn’t want to pack up and hike back in the dark.
That said, if I needed to hike back in the dark, I could have because I never go on a POTA or SOTA activation without a fully-charged headlamp. FYI: I was packing a NiteCore NU25 (affiliate link).
I started my action camera and captured the last bit of hike before Hazel and I found a great spot to set up. There were enough trees around to deploy a 40 meter EFHW and a relatively flat spot to set up my Helinox chair and KX1 station.
Since much of this section of the MST is on the Blue Ridge Parkway grounds, I checked quickly to make sure my operating site would qualify as a two-fer with K-3378.
I opened the Parceled App on my iPhone to confirm that my site was indeed on Blue Ridge Parkway property..
A KX1 Kneeboard!
A few weeks prior, I received this kneeboard from my buddy Scott (K4VOR). Scott’s a contributor and supporter here on QRPer.com and, like me, a big fan of the Elecraft KX1. (You might recall his KX1 field kit.)
He designed this kneeboard to fit the KX1 like a glove. It firmly holds the KX1 in place and ensures that the KX1 paddles are stable. You can slap those paddles around all you want, but the KX1 will not budge as it’s so secure.
I don’t think Scott’s planning to do a production run of these kneeboards (correct me if I’m wrong about that, Scott) he just made one for himself and one for me. Thank you so much!
I took my sweet time deploying the KM4CFT EFHHW antenna. It was slightly tricky to find the right angle to launch the throw line.
- Elecraft KX1 (3 band version with internal ATU and attachable paddles)
- K4VOR KX1 Kneeboard
- Pelican Micro M50
- Tufteln KX1 Protective cover
- Anker Soundcore Mini Speaker
- ABR Industries 25’ RG-316 cable assembly with three in-line ferrites (Use Coupon Code ABR10QRPER for 10% Discount!)
- KM4CFT End-Fed Antenna Kit (eBay partner link)
- CW Morse SP4 N0SA SOTA Paddles
- GoRuck GR1 USA
- Bioenno 3 Ah LiFePo Battery (Model BLF-1203AB)
- Weaver arborist throw line/weight and storage bag
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil
- Rite In The Rain Top Spiral Notebook
- Camera: OSMO 4 with Sensyne Phone Tripod
- Helinox Chair Zero
On The Air
I hopped on the air and called CQ POTA while Hazel sat next to me, keeping an eye out for bears and squirrels (mostly squirrels).
I logged my first ten contacts in nine minutes. The pace of contacts was quite steady! Many thanks to Matt (KN4YTA) for providing a P2P as my first contact!
I continued working stations (all on 40 meters) until I reached a total of 27 contacts in 24 minutes.
I would like to have continued plugging away, but the light was fading and needed to account for the time to pack up and hike back to the car, so I called QRT.
Here’s what this five-watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.
By the end of the activation, Hazel was getting chilly despite wearing her coat. When not on the trail, she’s very a much a sit-in-front-of-the-woodstove kind of POTA Pooch.
Little did I know at the time, but life got crazy the day after this activation and I believe getting outdoors and soaking in this “radio therapy” gave me a lot of strength to move forward.
Oh and, Scott, thanks again for the brilliant KX1 kneeboard. I absolutely love it!
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them!
Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon, and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.
As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me!
Cheers & 72,