A Pretty Picnic for the POTA Babe

by Teri (KO4WFP)

Those of you who follow my articles know I generally activate in the morning. However, as school just let out for my son, we’ve transitioned to a summer schedule and that means horseback riding lessons are now in the morning. With my afternoons uncommitted, I’d like to give hunters who may miss me in the morning an opportunity to hunt me  by activating later in the day.

Wednesday, May 22nd, I resumed my 60 new-to-me park activation goal as well as the pursuit of the WMAs near the Altamaha River by heading to Clayhole Swamp WMA (US-3740). Clayhole Swamp WMA is a 8,500 plus acre property along the south side of the Atlamaha River.

I arrived at the property around 3 PM and began looking for an activation site. I first thought to activate near the river as Glenn W4YES and I did at Sansavilla. However, I didn’t have time to drive all over the park as I wanted to be on the air at 4 PM. An hour sounds like gracious plenty of time but when you are driving up and down dirt roads in an unfamiliar area, it isn’t.

entrance road
the woods along the entrance road

The road into the property (as you saw in a photo above) is well-packed and maintained. However, as you drive further into the WMA, other roads are less so. I found Lemmond Road and gave it a go. Given the recent rain, it was a bit on the boggy (but no less fun) side.

Eventually, it became two ruts in the forest and I appeared no closer to finding the river. Also, a multitude of flies swarmed all around the car. At this point, despite having fun mud-bogging on the road in my Subaru Crosstrek “Kai,” it was time to turn around and find a less buggy and muddy QTH.

Source: Georgia DNR – map of Clayhole Swamp WMA
mud-boggin’ road!
Kai needs a bath now

I retraced my path to the entrance and a little past the entrance into the WMA found a clearing off to the right. The terrain was such I could drive the car just a little way in and set up my station.

There were trees all along the side of the clearing. I donned my blaze orange vest and hat and pulled out my arbor line and weight. Amazingly, it took just one toss to get a line up and in no time, my EFRW was hoisted and ready. I oriented it southeast hoping to get good coverage to the west but also the northeast which turned out to be the case.

my antenna “mast” choices
arbor line high up in tree
feed-end out in clearing
Antenna orientation

The site I chose was shady so despite the afternoon temperature being in the 80s, Daisy and I were cool. I also brought along her cooling vest from Ruffwear. You wet the vest and put it on the dog. The evaporative cooling it provides can lower the temperature for the dog by 3-4 degrees. It worked. She didn’t pant at all during the activation while wearing the vest. This piece of equipment will come in handy for POTA in the summer.

Wx in Savannah before heading to WMA
Daisy’s cooling vest

I began with 30 meters, logging 4 contacts before moving to 20 meters. Twenty meters gave me 11 contacts, including a park-to-park (P2P) QSO with John W4ER at US-3691 in Alabama.

I then moved to 17 meters for two contacts and 40 meters for three. At this point, I’d been on the air for an hour. Time to go hunting myself for some P2P QSOs.

View to the right of our QTH into the woods

I snagged five QSOs on this particular activation, all on 20 meters – Charles AB9CA at US-4162, Melvin W3PYF at US-2437, Andrew AJ1S at US-5635, Paul W2ECK at US-1437, and Rostislave KC3FQF at US-1738. Paul, by the way, is from Savannah. It was a surprise to see him pop up on the POTA site but in Wisconsin.

QSO map for Clayhole Swamp WMA 5-22-2024

I did see an op activating in Alaska on 15 meters; however, his signal was too faint and I figured he was not likely to hear me. I think my hunch was correct given the QSO map of my activation showing the farthest west my signal reached was Texas.

After being on the air for an hour and a half, it was time to call QRT and eat dinner. Yes, you read that correctly. Daisy and I had a picnic supper.  It doesn’t get much better than a valid activation followed by supper in the shade with the WMA all to yourself! (I saw only one other car during my time at Clayhole Swamp.)

cheese, black olives, bell pepper slices with hummus
Daisy licking her bowl clean

Remember those flies I mentioned in the back section of the WMA earlier in the article? There were just a few at this spot in the clearing. Certainly the terrain had something to do with that. It also may have been because of the two dragonflies that “patrolled” during my activation. I finally managed to photograph one sitting next to my chair. I enjoyed watching his head rotate back and forth as he scanned for insects to hunt.

cool dragonfly

After supper, Daisy and I checked out the clearing and then took a walk up and down the entrance road. There were lots of different flowers blooming including the yellow ones in the photo below and trails to maybe explore in a future visit.

view into the clearing
a trail we could check out if we return

All in all, this was a fabulous POTA. The only thing that would have made it perfect was having Glenn along. (He had a Zoom meeting that afternoon.) So far, of the three WMAs along the Altamaha River I’ve visited, this is my favorite. But, I have five more (yes, five!) to visit before settling on a favorite. Which one will I or we visit next? Stay tuned…

Equipment Used

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10 thoughts on “A Pretty Picnic for the POTA Babe”

  1. Teri… I think I’ve an explanation for your contacs, I modeled your antenna with a 35′ radiator placed vertical and a 17′ counterpoise laid out “on ground”, and the results can be seen here


    now, notice how most of the radiation goes toward the counterpoise direction and how, on the 17 meters band, the takeoff angle is pretty high while on the other bands it stays low

    An experiment you may try, if you want, could be putting up the antenna as an “inverted V” by hanging the arborist line at the middle of the 35′ radiator, in such a config you’ll have mostly NVIS radiation which should work well for the 30 and 40 meters bands 🙂

    1. Dragonflies love to perch on my aerials while I’m activating…their butts in the air for cooling I think.

  2. before i forget, even with the wire not being vertical but sloping (with a base angle of e.g. 60°), the max radiation will still be toward the counterpoise and the better effect will be laying down the counterpoise “under” the radiator that is, starting from the feedpoint and laying on ground in the direction of the vertex


    1. Andrew:

      Thanks for the suggestions re: my EFRW antenna. I haven’t experimented much with antennas so I found the information you shared of interest. I need to find a time for POTA when I can play around with the configuration and see how that affects propagation. In the meantime, I will play with the counterpoise and see what that does. I never thought that its placement could affect where my signal is likely to travel.

      The POTA Babe

      1. I see you

        not willing to act as a teacher or whatever like that, Teri, just trying to share knowledge and, in this case, NEC modeling applied to your setup, as the complained Cebik (SK) would do, again, I’m no teacher, nor I pretend to be one, I’m just a folk following the “ham spirit” and trying to help


  3. Teri,
    Thanks for another adventure of the POTA BABE. I’m a real outdoor person too.
    Have you discussed your path into ham radio, cw and eventually an enthusiastic embracer of POTA before in your posting? My interest is piqued to know the answers.
    It’s great to see your enthusiasm for the hobby expressed in this way.
    I hope to catch you on the air on one of your POTA BABE adventures.

  4. Phil:

    No, I haven’t discussed on QRPer my path into ham radio, cw, and POTA. I probably should at some point and will consider that for a future article or work it into upcoming ones. One gets so busy along the journey that sometimes we forget to look back and reflect on how we got where we are. I am considering a reflection article of some sort soon given I’ve been on the air with QRP nearly a year now.

    I am glad you enjoy the articles. I have so much fun activating and getting outside with Daisy and/or Glenn. You never know what you’ll discover or what obstacles you will encounter with POTA. Nearly every activation is an adventure of some sort. As long as I am able to, I’ll continue sharing them with y’all.

    The POTA Babe

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