The Blue Ridge Parkway is a massive national park.
This stretch of scenic road spans 469 miles (755 km) from North Carolina into Virginia and crossing 29 counties along the way.
I could activate the BRP every day for the rest of my life and find a new activation spot every single day.
But at the end of the day, I return to reliable spots that I love in particular because of the solitude, the access to trails, and of course the trees.
There are trees along the parkway I know so well, I should name them. They’re always there when I’m ready to deploy a wire antenna.
On Wednesday, May 5, 2021, I visited one of my favorite BRP activations sites that I used during the year-long National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) program in 2016.
This particular site is simply a small hill on the side of the road and at the top, there some excellent trees. There’s also a short path leading to the for the Mountains To Sea trail.
This particular spot also overlooks a valley and has a wee bit of altitude. I’m not sure how meaningful that is for an HF op, but it always seems to help.
Blue Ridge Parkway, NC (K-3378)
Of course, since the lab599 Discovery TX-500 was still so new to me, it had to come out to play.
I decided to skip using an ATU, keep things simple, and pair the TX-500 with my MFJ-1984LP EFHW (above).
- lab599 Discovery TX-500
- MFJ-1984LP End Fed Half Wave
- CW Morse “Pocket Paddle”
- GoRuck GR1 USA
- Bioenno 3 aH LiFePo Battery (Model BLF-1203AB)
- Arborist throw line
- Tom Bihn Large Travel Tray (holds all of the TX-500 accessories, battery and antenna in the GR1 pack)
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch (affiliate link)
- Muji A6 Notepad (affiliate link)
I started on 40 meters where I very quickly snagged my good friend, Eric (WD8RIF) who most likely saw my callsign on the RBN and kindly took a break from work to hop on the air work me 5 watts both ways. I’m willing to bet Eric was even a bit envious and wished he could have been outdoors putting parks on the air that morning. It’s fair play, though, because he’s often out doing multi-park runs while I’m working from home.
We must live vicariously through each other, right? Right.
Where was I?
Oh yes, the contacts started rolling in on 40 meters.
I worked K4NAN, KD8IE, K8RAT, N4EX, NE4TN, N9UNX, KB4PY, KC5F, KN3A, and NS4J on 40 meters in the span of about eleven minutes. I really enjoy that kind of cadence.
Next, I moved to 20 meters knowing it might not be an ideal band. I called CQ for nearly 10 minutes, then logged N6GR in New Mexico.
This activation reminded me that POTA often feels like a little impromptu family reunion as so many of the ops I logged that day were POTA friends and also enthusiastic activators.
I decided that 12 logged was a great number, so I called QRT and packed up. I most enjoyable activation!
Of course, I recorded one of my real-life, real-time activation videos. Hazel and some very irritating flora are also featured.
Click here to view on YouTube.
Here’s a QSO Map of the activation as well:
I remember during National Parks On The Air, a hunter who worked me daily asked, “Do you ever get tired of activating the Blue Ridge Parkway?”
I told him that the BRP is so large, so diverse, and so beautiful, there’s simply no way I could ever get tired of it.
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