Many thanks to Lee (K2LT) who shares the following guest post:
Fishing Hole Reflections
by Lee (K2LT)
Last week, I completed my 80th activation of a state forest very close to my home – Deer River State Forest (K-5199). That earned me what in POTA is called the “Fishing Hole” activator award. Compared with the achievements of other activators within POTA, it’s not at all a big deal. Yet as I sat on my camp stool in the snow in the middle of the woods last week with my radio, I realized how big of a deal it has been for me. There was no wind, I was surrounded by huge Red Pine trees, and the only noises were an occasional airplane, woodpeckers, ravens, and my CW signals. I was happy!
All of my activations of that spot haven’t been QRP but as I look back at my favorite memories from ham radio (I’ve been licensed for about seven years), they’ve been when I’ve put my gear into a backpack, found a secluded spot in the woods, sat on my campstool and operated from there.
This time of year is also my favorite. Our winters in Northern New York State (I’m only about 20 miles south of the Quebec border) are LONG. In late March when winter starts to lose its iron grip on our region, we’re all “chomping at the bit” for spring to arrive. Yet, as things get warmer in late April and May, the Adirondack black flies, mosquitoes, and deer flies will come out in force. In the fall, deer hunters populate the state forests and can make activations dangerous, and deep winter doesn’t often work unless I operate from my truck – numb fingers and CW operation don’t do well together. So, early spring is often the perfect time to be able to operate outdoors.
A couple of times, I’ve had POTA hunters inquire why I don’t post my activations prior to heading out. My wife and I have an adult disabled son in his twenties. We’ve made the commitment to keep him home with us as long as we can. As with all things in life, this decision comes with a cost. It means that I often only know at the last minute whether I’m going to be able to get out for a few hours. Having K-5199 so close has been a real blessing – I can get there and back quickly and do something that brings me a lot of enjoyment at the same time.
Learning CW in my fifties was a challenge, but the first time I saw a video of someone working an MTR-3B from a summit, I knew I had to try it. If I’m working a CW pile-up, I can’t be thinking about anything else. Deciphering signals and logging them correctly takes all the mental “bandwidth” that I’m able to muster; however, in an odd way, it’s also very refreshing – I get a vacation from the things that I’m usually preoccupied with. I always come back mentally refreshed. I’m sure my wife and family appreciate the break I’ve had as well!
Even though I’m retired, I’ve been taking some online classes. One question that often comes up in the “Introduce Yourself” section is – “tell us something unique about yourself.” Years ago, I always struggled with this request, but not anymore. I sometimes respond by saying, “For me, being out in the woods with my radio making contacts is like an afternoon at the beach for someone else.”
Ham radio and portable operating have truly been a blessing for me and I’m thankful for them.