Overnight at Reed Bingham State Park for the POTA Babe

After a valid activation and exploration of Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area, Daisy and I headed to Reed Bingham State Park (US-2195), roughly a two hour drive. Along the way, we passed a huge lumber mill and drove through the communities of Douglas, Nashville, and Willacoochee.

Lumber mill
Train Depot in Willacoochee, Georgia

Courthouse in Nashville, Georgia

Reed Bingham State Park, located in southwest Georgia, is named after Amos Reed Bingham, who envisioned a dam on the Little River to provide electricity to the rural community. Even though the flow of the river was not sufficient for that purpose, Colquit and Cook counties purchased 1,600 acres along the Little River and deeded the land to the state of Georgia, creating the park. A 400-acre lake was created in 1970 by the current dam and provides recreational opportunities for park visitors.

source: Google maps
The lake at Reed Bingham State Park
Overflow from the dam into the Little River

Besides working toward my 60 new-to-me park activation goal, the trip to Reed Bingham served another purpose – refining my camping set-up and routines before my twelve-day POTA trip this summer. I made quite a few notes about equipment that would make camping life better and realized I need to think through where to keep certain items so I can lay my hands on them more easily and quickly.

The tent at the campsite

A new item I purchased for hiking and camping  trips is a hitching system for Daisy. I want her to be able to “free range” while I set up camp, make meals, or visit the bathhouse but still be contained. Ruffwear makes a hitch system with a daisy-chain (aptly named, don’t you think?) on one end and a kermantle rope on the other.

I ran the daisy-chain around a large pine and then, as there was not another tree close enough, the kermantle rope to the rails on the top of Kai. A large carabiner slides up and down the rope and Daisy’s six-foot leash attaches it to a clip on the back of her new harness. The system worked well and eliminated her getting tangled in a lead line while in camp.

After setting up camp and eating supper, it was time to fit in an activation. There were two trees near the campsite – a large oak and shorter-than-usual pine tree. I opted for the pine tree as it was closer to my tent. (I longed to sit in the comfort of my tent on my Thermarest chair for the activation.)

Oak tree
Pine tree – my choice for the EFRW

It took me several throws but eventually the Tufteln EFRW was installed and the coax run into the tent. Before I could get on the air, though, a neighbor stopped by with his two granddaughters inquiring as to what I was up to. We had a quick chat, with me explaining the equipment and then letting them listen to some morse code. The two young girls couldn’t have looked more bored but the grandfather was fascinated and reminisced that he learned morse code in the Boy Scouts.

My outreach and educational duties done, it was time to have fun on the air. I wondered how well 20 meters would behave. In 20 minutes, I worked 14 stations (not bad!)

Set-up in tent
View from inside the tent during my activation (no rain fly on)
Activating in the comfort of my tent!

As I now had a valid activation, it was time to hunt.

I couldn’t hear many stations but managed to work Ken AK0A at US-2335. I then resumed calling CQ, again on 20 meters, picking up five more stations before hunting again. Timothy K8NWD at US-3384 and I had a park-to-park QSO before I moved to 40 meters for two more stations including John N8JY. (John is working toward the “Hunted Operator to Operator” award for which a hunter has 50 contacts with an activator, in this case me.  His goal is to have more CW activators for this award.  He and I have 15 contacts so far.) At this point it was after 8 PM so I called QRT.

QSO Map for Reed Bingham State Park Activation source: http://tools.adventureradio.de/analyzer/

Given how variable the bands conditions have been of late, I was thrilled with two valid activations in one day. I do look at the A-index, K-index, and SFI numbers often before I head out for a POTA and, if there’s been a massive CME as we’ve recently experienced, I opt to stay home. But when you have reservations somewhere out of town, you take your chances. My point is, though, you never know until you try what the bands will give you.  Sometimes what happens is rough and other times are magic.

What a cool dragonfly!
Gopher Tortoise in burrow at night
Soil spread or a “burrow apron” is a tell-tale sign of a Gopher Tortoise burrow

After this day full of adventure and fun, it was time to stow my antenna/coax and re-charge my KX2 for tomorrow. You know the POTA Babe isn’t going to just drive home without fitting in one more activation, right? It just so happens that along the route is Alapaha River Wildlife Management Area. Would the sun give me three valid activations on my trip? Stay tuned…

Equipment Used

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17 thoughts on “Overnight at Reed Bingham State Park for the POTA Babe”

  1. I always enjoy reading your POTA adventures with Daisy and look forward to future activations. Thank you Teri.

  2. When I read your comment about refining your camping gear I was immediately drawn to the photo of your tent. I can’t see the name brand but what I did notice is the half fly. In nasty weather a fly that reaches the ground can be the difference between being dry or wet. In the south perhaps ventilation takes precedence over rain protection? Being a northern wilderness traveller we choose tents that are storm proof. We also pack a silicone tarp to provide some additional shelter. Can you expand on your tent choice in light of your planned camping/POTA trip ?

    1. Rod:

      The tent pictured in this article is not my tent. It is a Ozark tent from my parents’ emergency stash. I have a 30-year-old Sierra Designs tent that does have the fly reaching to the ground as you mentioned in your comment.

      In April, I traveled to Florida for three days and used my Sierra Designs tent for the first time in many years. While preparing for and during the trip, I noticed the floor of the tent was slightly sticky. Upon returning home, I did some research and learned that is a symptom of a tent losing its water-protective abilities. Next week my primary job in preparing for my upcoming summer POTA trip is to clean my Sierra Designs tent and re-waterproof it. Sierra Designs sent me instructions on how to do so including the products they recommend for re-treating the tent.

      The weather forecast during my recent overnight trip called for the low possiblity of preciptation which is why I opted for the Ozark tent instead of my tent. There are many reasons I do not like the Ozark tent including the half-fly. However, it was available when I needed a tent and proved good enough for the overnight trip.

      I did not realize it is recommended to clean and re-treat my tent every 8 years or so. Now it is being done. I am excited to see my Sierra Designs two-person tent restored in the next week or so and ready for this summer’s trip as well as any adventures beyond.

      You mention in your comment you carry a silicone tarp. I’d love to hear what tarp you use and why you chose that. I am considering purchasing a Mountain Laurel Designs tarp in the next week or so to add to my arensal. I hope for my first SOTA activations during my summer POTA trip and want a lightweight but sound tarp I can carry in my pack as a shelter from the sun and/or wind for Daisy and I but also an emergency shelter if caught in bad weather while in the woods.

      There is always something new to learn in this hobby – radio or non-radio related! Thanks for your comment.

      The POTA Babe

      1. Thanks for the reply and the details of your tent choices. I’ve just bought a new MSR Elixir to replace a warn North Face. I silicone my seams every year. I was not aware of the process for waterproofing the floor you described but will definitely check it out.
        We have two tarps of excellent quality, the first being a large USA made tarp that is silnylon. We use it for the 4 person canoe trips we take in Quetico/Boundary Waters to have a large area under which to sit, cook, chat, drink coffee, etc. I will be activating from there in August.
        The second is an extra silnylon that just covers our tent and is made overseas.
        I’m sure there are US suppliers of these kinds of products. These silnylon tarps are bombproof and absolutely rain proof!
        Keep the reports coming!

        1. Rod:

          Thanks for the information. I’ll check out these sites.

          Wow – you’ll be in the Boundary Waters! I canoed there as a teenager and later a counselor at a summer camp in Minnesota long ago. That area is magical and I will always have fond memories of my time there. How awesome you’ll be there in August operating. Have a great trip.!

          The POTA Babe

      2. I love my Mountain Laurel Designs gear. Just have to plan ahead for the lead time, which is like 6 weeks, but definitely worth it.

        1. Jared:

          Thanks for the confirmation on the Mountain Laurel Designs gear. Unfortunately, my trip is only four weeks away so I might not be taking one of their tarps with me. Oh well. It is good to know, though, it will be worth it once purchased.

          The POTA Babe

  3. Hi Teri, Grest write up as always! I’m curious about the Tuftelin 9.1 EF compared to just running a random wire straight off the KX2. Have you been able to run a comparison? What wire length do you use on the Tuftelin? Do you still use the tuner with the 9:1?

    Brian ve3bwp

    1. Brian:

      I have not run a comparison with the Tufteln EFRW and a random wire. Usually when I activate, I only have so much time, hence I focus on doing what I know works well based on my experience so far. The more questions I receive like this, though, the more I am hankering for the time to play with other configurations and antennas.

      I think I have the 41′ radiator with my EFRW. Yes, I use the tuner with the 9:1 though I often find the SWR is reasonable on certain bands already when I engage it and on those bands I probably don’t need to use the tuner. I haven’t written down the SWRs when tuning but will consider doing that so I can track that over time.

      You might check out Thomas’ articles as I think he has used random wires in the past. There may also be others who’ve written articles on the site with random wires as well.

      Thanks for your comment and glad you are enjoying the articles.

      The POTA Babe

  4. Thanks again Teri,

    I ordered the throw line (getting tired of mason twine)!

    Also got the Tuftelin EFRW last week. Always like to listen to a real pro. Saves me time and money!

    72 de Gil K4JST

    1. Gil:

      I learned about the arbor line and throw weights from Thomas so he is actually the pro in the discussion! Great news about the Tuftelin EFRW. As you know from reading my articles, it has become my go-to antenna. I love the ease of switching bands and, with the arbor line, it is quick to deploy (though my throwing skills sometimes are another matter – hi hi). I hope you enjoy using it as much as I have.

      The POTA Babe

  5. My arborist buddies clued me in on some good, strong, lightweight throw line, readily available on Amazon. I use an 8-ounce or 10-ounce Weaver “Bullet Throw Weight,” Cordura .

    In no particular order of preference:

    • Teufelberger “Dynaglide” Dyneema Arborist Throw Line, polyurethane coated neon green rope for high visibility (1.8mm x 200 feet)

    • Samson “Zing-It” Dyneema Throw Line, yellow (1.75mm x 180 feet)

  6. On tents, tarps, and such, here are some great ones I stumbled upon and use, each one depending on the degree of backcountry and the timeframe. All are by Hilleberg the Tentmaker (they have a good website). Listed from most minimal to most spacious ~

    • Bivanorak

    • Windsack

    • Mesh Tent 1

    • Unna 1-person tent, minimalist

    • Soulo 1-person tent

    • Tarra 2-person tent (two entrances/vestibules)

  7. Here are a couple of stoves that have been helpful in my own outings, one very minimal. Both Trangia and Nortent have good websites:

    • Trangia “Micro” spirit burner & windshield, with Trangia fuel bottles; takes any kind of liquid fuel (including spirits, kerosene, white gas, alkylate petrol, Primus, isopropyl alcohol)

    • Nortent Ultralight Tentstove (titanium)

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