Tag Archives: Elecraft KX2

One Watt, Low-Profile QRP: A Labor Day POTA Activation at Lake James State Park

I realize that I’m fortunate, in many ways, that I perform POTA activations at times when parks are relatively quiet: weekdays, mostly, and during that 9-5 window when many are at work. On the flip side, I’m also activating when there are less hunters out there.

The upshot, for me, is that I rarely have any competition for picnic tables or activation spots at state and national parks. In general, as you’ll see in my activation videos, the park is quiet and sometimes I literally have the place to myself.

I actually take this for granted until I activate on a busy weekend or a holiday. Something like…

Labor Day!

While traveling back to the QTH on Monday, September 4, 2023, I decided to pop by Lake James State Park (K-2739) for a quick POTA activation.

Lake James State Park spans about 3,743 acres and is divided into two areas: the Catawba River Access and Paddy’s Creek Area.

Typically, I play radio at the smaller Catawba River area because there are so many excellent picnic sites with loads of trees.

The Paddy’s Creek area is much larger and (big bonus) has many more trails.

Paddy’s Creek also has a large beach and swimming/boating area with a huge parking lot and large covered picnic shelter (that is often occupied or reserved).

On Labor Day, the weather was gorgeous and, as you might imagine, the park was packed!

So why did I choose Paddy’s Creek on such a busy day?

I might have mentioned in a previous video that we recently purchased a used Volvo C40 Recharge EV (Electric Vehicle). While I normally charge it up at home, I’m trying to familiarize myself with charging on the go as well.

I’d read that Lake James has two (free!) convenience chargers at the Paddy’s Creek area. I drove to the site mainly to see where the were located. On such a busy day, I didn’t assume either of the chargers would be available–my plan was to find them, then head to the Catawba River access.

But turns out, the only available parking spot I could find at the Paddy’s Creek lot was one EV charging spot right there at the beach access and shelter! What!?! That’s an omen, I told myself, so I pulled into the spot, plugged in, and by golly, the car started charging.

I’m still new at this stuff, so it’s all a bit of magic to me. Forgive my excitement.

But where to activate?

The park was teeming with people all out enjoying the weather, the water, and the food and drinks. Truth is, I love seeing parks being enjoyed on this scale. Continue reading One Watt, Low-Profile QRP: A Labor Day POTA Activation at Lake James State Park

N5FY’s First CW POTA Activation!

My First CW POTA Activation

by Joshua (N5FY)

As I often do, I hunted yet another CW POTA activator during my lunch break while working from home.

I have been learning CW for most of the year. Early on, I realized that with a bit of practice sending, and after listening to recordings of POTA activations, like those from Thomas, I could reliably send the proper exchange needed to hunt a POTA activator.

If you can give your call sign, signal report, and state abbreviation, you can make the contact. I started early on with just the basics and then added some of the common “extras” like GM for good morning, TU for Thank You and then 73. Not only is this great practice for getting on the air sending CW, it’s also very rewarding while learning CW. The exchange is short, standard, and easy to follow with a bit of practice.

CW Practice with the Morserino32 and a Cup of Coffee
CW Practice with the Morserino32 and a Cup of Coffee

Once I finished my upgrade to Extra I focused all my spare time, not much though truth be told, on practicing CW.

At some point this summer I set the goal to Activate POTA/SOTA during the W4G SOTA campout this fall. This really wasn’t an aggressive goal, one I figured was attainable but also one that I could hold myself accountable to even knowing I had a very busy summer ahead of me.

W4G SOTA Campout Summit View Yanah Mountain Bald
W4G SOTA Campout Summit View Yanah Mountain Bald October 2022

During one of the LICW Club classes I heard again that their goal is to get Hams on the air to make a QSO. I thought to myself, yes, that is great, and I want to do more, but I know I have made many QSOs in CW on the air, albeit very short and simple ones. So, I was curious how many.

I jumped on the POTA site and looked up my statistics. I was surprised at how may hundred I had, and yet at the same time, I was a bit disappointed. It’s not that I wanted to have made more CW contacts, it’s that I realized that they were ALL from hunting and not a single one was from calling CQ.

So, I changed my goal.

I know that Hams, especially CW operators, are a great bunch of people and they want to see new CW operators succeed, so there is lots of patience when you call CQ. So, I decided to move up my timeline. This was on a Thursday, and Saturday was a likely candidate for a POTA outing, why not–?

Saturday was my birthday, and I knew I could get away with some personal free time in the morning where I could dive in and call CQ POTA DE N5FY. The next day, Friday, I firmed it up, I would head out in the morning, bring the new to me KX2 and see what happens.

Surprisingly, I was much less nervous than I expected, I had told myself that it wouldn’t help anyways to be nervous so just do it and see what happens. I made it to my local park, to the picnic table I frequent, then setup a No Transformer 2-Wire antenna with the KX2. One press of the ATU button and I had a 1:1 match on 40m band.

Of course, I have great timing. I could not believe the stations on the air on 40m. I never did look but there must have been a contest. I moved up and down about 20kHz and there were stations everywhere! I called “QRL?” on 2 different frequencies and had a reply before I landed on open frequency where I could call CQ.

N5FY First CW Activation KX2 Setup
N5FY First CW Activation KX2 Setup

I had not scheduled the activation; I knew I had a bit of cell phone coverage at this park, so I set the CQ POTA message to calling while I posted a spot.

After two calls, I had my first call back. It was time!

I could have freaked out here, but I was too focused on decoding to even be nervous! Of course, I had to send a partial call and a “?” once or twice to get the full call right. Of course, I made some keying errors. But the caller had patience and worked me and we made the QSO. Now I was really excited!

I called CQ and someone sent me back dits and dahs, and I decoded what they were sending! Boy, this was fun! I continued to call CQ POTA, and tried my best to decode the replies, several pileups, and lots of “?” sent by me. But I was making contacts and having a blast!

After a couple of silent CQ calls later, I switched to 20m. And, again, started to get replies back as well as a couple small pileups. In the end, there were a couple call signs that I could not look up, l had a letter or two wrong, but with almost 20 in the log I knew I had an activation and boy was I happy!

N5FY First CW Activation QSO Map
N5FY First CW Activation QSO Map

Looking back on the activation, and after talking to another Ham, it occurred to me why I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I might be.

You see, when you are the Activator, when you call CQ, the ball is in your court, you invite people to call back and they are there for you. I almost get more nervous hunting as I don’t want to slow down an activator or run over another caller. But when you are the one calling CQ, it’s your game!

Of course there were several hiccups along the way. For one, it got HOT sitting in the sun. I ended up deploying my hiking chair on the table as a sunshade and pulled a portable fan out of the car. Even the action camera overheated while recording the activation. I couldn’t get the KXPD2 paddle to key the KX2 on 20m when I first got setup. And of course, I had lots of sending errors (although fewer than I expected to have) and sent a A LOT of “?” asking for a repeat.

That said, I am very glad to have jumped in and will continue to activate CW going forward as I continue to build my CW skills. For me, confidence in the ability to Activate on CW is great motivation for practicing, which again, is my biggest learning. If I want to be a good operator, I need to put in the effort, and going out to play radio is one extremely fun way to practice!

73 Joshua N5FY

POTA with a 20 Meter Vertical Delta Loop and the Elecraft KX2!

There’s a portable wire antenna design I’ve been wanting to put on the air for POTA and SOTA for what seems like ages: a 20 meter vertical loop.

I mentioned in a Ham Radio Workbench podcast episode a few months ago that I planned to build a field-portable delta loop antenna and that led to a mini discussion about configurations, feed points, height off the ground, etc. and how all of those factors can influence the characteristics and dynamics of the antenna.

Vertical loops are pretty fascinating and incredibly effective.

Delta loops are super easy to build (no more difficult than an EFHW) but this summer has been insanely busy for me and I simply hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

Then my good friend Joshua (N5FY) who runs tufteln.com sent me a prototype 20M delta loop in the mail. We’d been talking delta loops and he couldn’t help but build one. He asked that I take it to the field and put it on the air, then give him any feedback and notes I might have.

Joshua’s design incorporates a 4:1 transformer and was cut to be resonant on 20 meters. I’d actually planned to build one identical to this because the type of loops I’ve deployed at home have been fed with ladder/window line which isn’t as portable as something I could feed with RG-316.

Holmes Educational State Forest (K-4856)

On Friday, September 1, 2023, I grabbed the delta loop antenna and the KX2, then made my way to Holmes Educational State Forest.

I knew that Holmes wouldn’t be busy and that there were a number of options for spots to set up.

After a little scouting, I found a great site to set up the antenna.

I planned to set up this antenna as close as I could to an equilateral triangle with the apex up about 30 feet and the feedpoint in the middle of the base of the delta.

Deploying the antenna in this configuration meant that I only needed one line in a tree to hoist the apex of the delta and two lines to pull out the corners of the base.

I brought along some paracord with tent stakes to secure the base corners of the loop. In the end, though, I simply attached the paracord to trees instead of using the stakes.

I (somewhat reluctantly) made a video of the entire activation including the antenna deployment. I wanted to take my time deploying this antenna for the first time, so the antenna deployment section of the video is much longer than usual.

You absolutely cannot see the loop in this photo, but it’s there…I promise!

In the end though? It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. The last vertical delta loop I deployed was a 40 meter loop which is roughly double the size–in my head I was expecting the aperture to be larger than it was.

My arborist line and 12 oz weight hanging to provide a gentle tension to hold the apex of the loop up.

The 20 meter loop is actually pretty compact and almost as easy as setting up as an inverted vee.

With my loop properly deployed, it was time to hit the air! Continue reading POTA with a 20 Meter Vertical Delta Loop and the Elecraft KX2!

KM4CFT: A Relaxing Labor Day SOTA Activation

Many thanks to Jonathan (KM4CFT) who shares the following guest field report:


A Relaxing Labor Day SOTA Activation

by Jonathan Kayne (KM4CFT)

September 4, 2023

Days off from work can be a really great thing. And for someone who spends most of his time indoors at a computer, I try to find plenty of excuses to go outside and get some fresh air. Labor Day is one of those days I get off from work, so I decided I would do a SOTA activation, but I wasn’t entirely sure where.

Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there to help with planning a SOTA activation, namely sotl.as, which shows all the summits on a map along with additional information about the summit.

I wasn’t entirely sure which one to pick, so I just searched around and came across Evergreen Mountain, which has the reference designator W0C/FR-076. Doing some research showed that it was about a 2-3 mile hike to the summit from the parking lot, which was perfect. The air around Denver, CO can be somewhat thin and these hikes can be strenuous if you aren’t used to it. I have been living in the Denver area for 2 years and I still am not used to it!

After a small amount of planning, I pack my radio and antenna into a bag along with the usual hiking gear and drive to the base of the mountain. There were a lot of cars already parked there, so I had to park on the side of the road. It seems other people had the same idea that I did!

The trail to the summit of Evergreen mountain was comparatively easy due to the trail being designed for mountain biking. Mountains in Colorado tend to be incredibly steep, which can make them quite the workout, even if the hike is short. This trail consisted of plenty of switchbacks, which made the hike incredibly easy, trading steepness for distance. This was a massive bonus from my perspective!

As you might have guessed, Evergreen Mountain (and the town) get their name from the impressive number of evergreen trees in the area. As you drive towards the town, it almost becomes exclusively pine trees everywhere!

As I walked, I couldn’t help but notice all the fallen pine trees, which concerned me, but I quickly came across a sign explaining the reason.

I really got to enjoy walking through these trees, and listening to the wind howl through the mountains. It also had the benefit of keeping me nice and cool in the reasonable 83° temperature outside.

The trees also blocked the views of the mountains to some extent, but my research showed me that we get plenty of gorgeous views closer to the summit!

Right before the summit loop, I was rewarded with a small glimpse of the views that were to come!

I made it to the summit loop trail, and advanced to the last little bit before the summit. Right before the true summit there is a tenth-mile little trail that leads to a scenic overlook. I, of course, had to go and take a look.

I went back and made it to the summit. The top of the mountain was pretty flat so I just went to what I thought was the summit and set up my station there. Searching around showed that I was well within the activation zone. The area had some nice rocks to sit on as well as trees for me to lash my crappie pole to with para-cord.

I unpacked my gear and started to set up. The gear I brought was as follows:

With SOTA, I have the opportunity to use my VHF/UHF equipment to make some QSOs. I find it quite rare for me to do simplex communication on VHF or UHF these days as I almost exclusively operate on HF. Also, I like to try to operate in the parts of the bands with the lowest license requirement so that the less experienced hams have an opportunity to work me. With this, I can give our technicians a chance to chase SOTA! Continue reading KM4CFT: A Relaxing Labor Day SOTA Activation

Guest Post: A wildly successful POTA activation…on a whim!

Many thanks to Mike (KE8PTX) who shares the following field report:


One of my best POTA activations on a whim.

by Mike (KE8PTX)

Monday 8/15/2023

Doing some late afternoon POTA chasing from the back deck home QTH,  contacts on 5 watts seemed to be coming fairly easy so I started to think I should have a go at it and activate a park.

One in one hundred times I activate QRO, so I decided to take the FT-891 and blow the dust off the finals.

When filling my pack, I had a last minute change of heart and decided to stick with QRP.  Bagged up the never fail KX2 field kit and hit the road.

The park was Port Huron State Game Land (K-6762) a nearby game land with many activation spots.  As I never do look at the solar reports, this time was no different.  I feel the solar reports more times than not would keep me home. With a QRP mind set we all feel we have something to prove by just doing it.

So off to the park we go!

After a short 20 minute dive through the countryside of the Michigan thumb, I arrived at my location only to be welcomed by a flock of Michigan state birds: the mighty Mosquitoes.  I came prepared with my trusty Thermacell.  Fired it up 5 minutes before exiting the car to give it a head start.

My deployment of gear is simple and quick.  My go-to antenna is a 40m EFHW inverted V configuration running North to South.

My mid support is a modified Carbon 6 mast.

Setup time was less than two minutes and I was on the air. Continue reading Guest Post: A wildly successful POTA activation…on a whim!

From the Archives: A 2022 Postcard Field Report and Activation Video from New River Gorge National Park

These are busy days for K4SWL

These past few weeks have been absolutely crazy for me in terms of activity–I’ve been traveling a lot, doing (involved) DIY projects on the house, searching for a new car, planning a PV system for the QTH, fixing well pumps, helping friends, and doing caregiving for my folks.

It’s all kept me very busy!

I have a sizable backlog of emails that have accumulated during this time. If you’ve sent me a message, I likely haven’t read it yet. Apologies for that. I simply haven’t had time to read and reply.

I thought about skipping a field report this morning, then I remembered an amazing West Virginia camping trip and draft videos I’d already uploaded to YouTube.

In lieu of writing a full field report (and so that I can share a video today) I thought I’d simply share this activation video with a Postcard type field report.

2022 West Virginia POTA Camping Trip

Last year (2022), in lieu of going to the Dayton Hamvention, my buddies Eric (WD8RIF), his son Miles (KD8KNC), and I spent a long weekend activating parks and camping in the New River Gorge area of West Virginia. Click here to read more about that trip.

The camping trip was absolutely amazing and we activated a number of parks during that time.

I made activation videos at most of the parks we visited, but with my summer travels and activations in Canada last year, I skipped over several of the videos I’d uploaded so that I could publish my Canadian activations while I was still in Canada.

New River Gorge National Park (K-0696)

 

The following activation video was made on May 21, 2022 as WD8RIF and I activated K-0696.

 

I’ve yet to re-watch this video myself, but I remember clearly that this particular day we had atrocious band conditions.

Indeed, rough bands were present during much of our weekend camping trip, but it never stopped us from having fun or activating our parks.

In terms of gear, I used my trust Elecraft KX2 paired with my Chameleon MPAS 2.0 antenna system.

Activation video:

Click here to watch on YouTube.

Logs

I hope you enjoy this below video and, as always, thank you so much to my Patreon and Coffee Fund.  supporters! You’re simply brilliant!

72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

K3ES’ Hike with Molly: The POTA Dog In-Training!

Many thanks to Brain (K3ES) who shares the following guest post:


“Hey!  I can be a POTA Dog.  Let’s go on a hike!”

A Hike (and Activation) with a POTA Dog In-Training

by Brian (K3ES)

PA State Route 66 Trail-head on K-4239

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.

Jojo (front) and Molly (back) are not happy about this staged picture.

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.

Jojo in her natural habitat:  sunbathing in the back yard.
Molly on the run.

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.

Molly supervises CW operations during the 2-fer Activation.

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.

Activation

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.

Logs from the activation filled up the last 2 pages of one notebook, and the first page of a second notebook.

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!

Travelogue and Field Report: POTA and Aviation Geekery with Friends in Dayton, Ohio!

A couple months ago, my good friend, Monty, hatched a plan to take his father to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

I thought it was a brilliant idea. Monty’s dad, John, served in the US Air Force in the 1960s and has always been a fan of aviation. Despite this, he had never been to the USAF museum.

Monty and I have been friends since being roommates back in our undergraduate years; he and his parents are like family to me. (You might remember Monty from a couple of SOTA/POTA activations in the past.)

When Monty asked, “Hey, would you like to join us–?” It took me all of one microsecond to say, “Heck yeah!

Off we go…

Monty, John, and I hopped in the car and headed to Dayton (from Charlotte, NC) Sunday morning, July 16, 2023.

It was a beautiful day for a 7+ hour road trip, too. Of course, I made sure we timed the trip so that we could stop at Tamarack in Beckley, WV for lunch.

We arrived at our little AirBnB vacation rental late that afternoon.

The house was literally a stone’s throw from the USAF museum. If we would have been any closer, we would have been on the museum driveway.

USAF Museum

Monday morning (July 17) we ate breakfast, then made our way across the road to the museum shortly after they opened the doors at 9:00.

I’ve been to the USAF museum at least fifteen times and it never gets old.

It’s the largest military aviation museum in the world and it’s brilliantly curated. They’re always shuffling around exhibits so that even if you visit annually, you’ll always find something new and fascinating.

The one and only Memphis Belle.

Without a doubt, my favorite part of the museum is the WWII Gallery because I’m such a huge history buff of that era.

Then again, I love the modern stuff, too, and the USAF museum certainly serves it up. Continue reading Travelogue and Field Report: POTA and Aviation Geekery with Friends in Dayton, Ohio!

A Speedy QRP POTA Activation of the President James K. Polk State Historic Site

On the morning of Tuesday, July 25, 2023, I packed an overnight bag, grabbed my Elecraft KX2 and Chelegance MC-750 then drove to Charlotte, NC.

I go to Charlotte very rarely these days, but somehow in July of this year, I managed two separate visits. Before that, I think I was last there four years ago to catch a flight to Denver.

My main excuse for visiting Charlotte on the 25th was to give a presentation at the Mecklenburg Amateur Radio Society’s monthly meeting.

Since I was in Charlotte for most of the afternoon, I also used it as an opportunity to do a bit of car shopping and test driving. Very soon, I’ll have two new drivers in the family, so we plan to add another vehicle to the mix sometime within the next few months.

While driving to Charlotte I contacted the President James K. Polk State Historic Site. I had never visited this site before so wasn’t sure what to expect. I did a bit of research Monday evening and discovered that their hours were from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM; typical hours for NC State Historic sites.

I knew my schedule would be tight. The park is located on the south west side of Charlotte (in Pineville) and my 3:00 test drive was in the north east part of Charlotte. If you’ve ever driven in Charlotte, you’ll know that driving times are unpredictable once 4:00 hits. I figured I might not arrive until 4:30 or later.

En route to Charlotte, I called the park to ask for permission to do an activation. Anytime I plan to activate a smaller park like a historic site, I always seek permission first from the park staff in advance. Often, they have restrictions about where you can set up and the types of antennas you can use (some historic and archaeological sites, for example, don’t allow any stakes in the ground or lines in trees).

The park staff gave me a thumbs up to do the activation. I didn’t expect them to deny me because this particular park has been activated over 150 times. No doubt, it’s so popular because it’s the closest park to the Charlotte metro area.

I then asked the staff if they closed all of the park grounds at 5:00 or only the visitor’s center. My hope was that, like the Vance Historic Site, they left the park gates open after hours. Unfortunately, the staff member confirmed that they do indeed close the entire site at 5:00, but he added, “you can certainly do your activation up to closing time, though.” He knew I would be pressed for time to fit in this activation.

Fortunately, I made good time to Charlotte and actually was able to bump up my appointments. I finished my last test drive a little after 3:00 and made a beeline for the park.

I arrived on site around 4:00 PM.

President James K. Polk State Historic Site (K-6848)

Before hitting the picnic area, I walked into the visitor’s center to ask where they prefer that I set up. Plus, I wanted to check out some of the displays in the museum!

I chatted with the park staff for a good 15 minutes or so. They were incredibly kind and very familiar with POTA (of course). They were especially familiar with my buddy Max (WG4Z) who lives nearby and activates the site frequently. He’s evidently been a great POTA ambassador!

Having spent so much time in the visitor’s center, I was only left with 45 minutes to complete my activation from setup to pack-up. Continue reading A Speedy QRP POTA Activation of the President James K. Polk State Historic Site

KO4WFP: An Unexpected, Speedy Activation at Tuscumbia WMA in Mississippi

Many thanks to Teri (KO4WFP) for the following guest post:


An Unexpected, Speedy Activation at Tuscumbia WMA in Mississippi

by Teri (KO4WFP)

Some of the best things in life are unexpected.

My family, after spending two days in Dallas, Texas visiting in-laws, headed back east on Wednesday, July 26. We originally planned to drive Interstate 20 through Louisiana and Mississippi with a stop in Alabama to visit with friends. However, early Wednesday morning, I Googled our route and realized a shorter route through Arkansas and Mississippi would save us thirty minutes. That doesn’t sound like much but when you spend nearly all day driving in a car, thirty fewer minutes feels like a big deal.

Before the trip, I planned an activation in and purchased a permit for Louisiana’s Russell Sage WMA (K-4076). Well, now I wouldn’t even go through Louisiana on our way back. I was loathe to not activate a park at all on the drive home. (Those who know me well, know I don’t give up easily at anything.) So I looked at the new route and the POTA website and endeavored to find a park that would work as well as we’d reach later in the day due to the hot weather. I settled on Tuscumbia Wildlife Management Area (K-7092) in Mississippi along US Route 72.

The 2,600 acre Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located just outside Corinth, Mississippi and divided into two sections, one on either side of US 72. The section to the north of the highway is primarily swamp bottomland but the northeast corner of it is accessible to the public. The WMA is a great place for birding and I noted 104 species have been observed according to the website eBird. It was this northeast corner at which I would attempt my activation.

The weather during the day was hot! At the Arkansas welcome center, I noted the boat-tailed grackles in the parking lot panting to cool off in the heat. I planned to reach Tuscumbia WMA  near the end of the day but whether it would still be too hot or not, I had no idea. Thankfully, as we reached the Mississippi state line out of Memphis, cloud cover appeared and I watched the temperature on the dashboard slowly descend from 99 degrees earlier in the day to a manageable 86 degrees.

The other potential wrinkle in my last-minute decision was whether accessing the park required a fee or not. I couldn’t tell from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks website. When we reached Memphis and had better cell service, I called one of their offices and spoke to a helpful employee who confirmed that yes, I would need a permit which I could purchase using their app. I also needed to use a second app to check in and out when actually at the park. Somehow I managed to get the apps downloaded, my account set up, and a one-year non-resident permit purchased during my husband’s turn at the wheel. Whew! One more hurdle surmounted.

Everything seemed to be falling into place. The last remaining wildcards were if I would arrive early enough before sunset and would I be able to find a place to set-up.

We arrived at the site a little before 7 PM. The most obvious place to activate, on the gravel pad next to the highway, had power lines running right above it as I had feared. There was no way to set up there. And I could not drive the car further into the property as gates prevented auto access. My only other option, with daylight running out, was to walk into the property, find a spot, and sit on the ground. To make space for our trip luggage, though, I left behind the bin in which I usually keep a tarp and other emergency supplies. (Note to self – next time keep at least a tarp in the car.) The only thing I could find for me to sit on was the windshield sunshade – not ideal but it would work.

I checked into the app, grabbed my POTA backpack, liberally applied bug spray for the gathering mosquitos, and headed past the gate to see with what I had to work. By the way, I’ve never seen mosquitos so large in size! They were at least three times bigger than the ones we have in Savannah, GA. Continue reading KO4WFP: An Unexpected, Speedy Activation at Tuscumbia WMA in Mississippi