Many thanks to Brain (K3ES) who shares the following guest post:
A Hike (and Activation) with a POTA Dog In-Training
by Brian (K3ES)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since it was past 4pm EDT, and the CWT sprint was finished, I moved over to 20m. Continue reading K3ES’ Hike with Molly: The POTA Dog In-Training!