Tag Archives: Pilot Mountain State Park (K-2750)

Propagation changes make for a relaxed 17 meter POTA activation at Pilot Mountain State Park

On Saturday, February 18, 2023, I had a rare opportunity: a full day to play radio.

Instead of doing a five park POTA rove, I chose instead to do a summit activation followed by a park activation.

I published the summit activation on Moore’s Knob (W4C/EP-001) a couple weeks ago and planned to immediately follow that up with this report from my POTA activation at Pilot Mountain State Park (which I activated the same day).

In the process of moving my videos from the camera, to my laptop, and then to PC where I do my remote uploads (my bandwidth at the QTH is far too poor to upload large videos) I somehow managed to delete this particular video file.

I was quite frustrated, actually, because this particular POTA activation was challenging. Lately, I’ve had so few examples of just how quiet a band can be when propagation is less stable.

The SOTA activation I performed only a few hours earlier had some of the deepest pileups I’ve ever experienced. By the time I started my POTA activation a couple hours later, all of this had changed–at least on the bands above 20 meters and I’d chosen 17 meters (a WARC band) since a contest was in progress on 20 and 40 meters.

I’m incredibly pleased that I stumbled upon the raw video files on my backup drive. I was able to reproduce the video in its entirety.  I’m so pleased it wasn’t lost!

This is why it’s a little out of sync date-wise with my other reports.

I hope you enjoy this field report:

Pilot Mountain State Park (K-2750)

After capping off a beautiful 4+ mile hike and SOTA/POTA activation at Hanging Rock State Park, I put my SOTA pack in the car and drove 30 minutes to Pilot Mountain State Park.

It being a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, the park was so full of guests the parking lot was completely full.  A park ranger had incoming cars form a line and he allowed cars in as guests departed one by one. When I arrived, there were five cars in front of me. I was very tempted to do a three-point turn and head back down the mountain to the visitor’s center to do the activation. There was plenty of parking there. Continue reading Propagation changes make for a relaxed 17 meter POTA activation at Pilot Mountain State Park

Activating Pilot Mountain State Park on a beautiful summer afternoon

After a successful SOTA and POTA activation at Hanging Rock State Park on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, I drove to nearby Pilot Mountain State Park. It was quite warm, but a beautiful day with no afternoon thunderstorms in sight.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play a little more radio. As the French say, “Il faut en profiter!

Although I’ve seen Pilot Mountain numerous times in my travels, I had never actually visited the park so this was a new-to-me park activation.

Pilot mountain is a landmark in the Yadkin river valley and has a fascinating back story.

Per Pilot Mountain State Park’s website:

“Pilot Mountain is a remnant of the ancient Sauratown Mountains. A quartzite monadnock, this rugged mountain rock has survived for millions of years while the elements have eroded surrounding peaks to a rolling plain.

Pilot Mountain is capped by two prominent pinnacles. Big Pinnacle, with walls of bare rock and a rounded top covered by vegetation, rises 1,400 feet above the valley floor, the knob jutting skyward more than 200 feet from its base. Big Pinnacle is connected to Little Pinnacle by a narrow saddle.

The mountain was mapped in 1751 by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, father of President Thomas Jefferson. Pilot Mountain became North Carolina’s 14th state park in 1968. The Pilot Mountain Preservation and Park Committee proposed the establishment of Pilot Mountain as a state park in order to protect it and the surrounding area from commercial development. The group secured options on the land and raised matching funds that made it possible to purchase with
federal grants.”

Pilot Mountain is a SOTA summit, but it has never been activated because it would require an experienced rock climber (assuming access is even allowed). The base of Big Pinnacle is 61 meters above the summit trail system, so well outside the 25 meter activation zone.

Pilot Mountain State Park (K-2750)

I only had my sights set on making a park activation out of Pilot Mountain and, frankly, I didn’t even have time to explore the trail system  that Tuesday.

Finding a spot to set up was quite easy. I entered the park and took a right at the roundabout which lead to the parking area at the top portion of the mountain.

From there, I found a small picnic area perhaps 50 meters from the parking lot. I carried my gear there and set up shop!

Since I was doing this activation mid-afternoon, I had the picnic area to myself, save one unfortunate woman who was trying to (conspicuously, if I’m being honest) fit in a bit of meditation time.  She picked out a picnic table near one of the main trails basically in the center of the picnic site , so I assumed she was pretty good at blocking out noises you’d normally hear at a busy park.

But the question remained: could she block out the sweet sound of CW emanating from my FT-817?

There was only one way to find out!

In truth, I try to lay low at parks and not disturb other people. In this case, I picked a table on the perimeter of the picnic area but it was still only a couple tables away from her. Since I was making one of my real-time, real-life field activation videos, I would be using the speaker–instead of headphones–with the FT-817.

In other words, there was no escaping a little CW music!

I shared my picnic table with this little Praying Mantis
I think he’s upset that my throw line is all over *his* ground.


This was also the first time I’d used my new orange single-level CW Morse paddle very kindly gifted to me by contributor/subscriber, Nathan (N8HWV).

Although it might look like a dual lever paddle, it’s actually a single lever!

Thank you so much, Nathan! 

On The Air

I started on 20 meters CW and, fortunately, it was hopping!

I worked 18 stations in 19 minutes. Whew!

Many thanks to N2EIM and NA9M for the P2P (Park To Park) contacts!

I then moved to 40 meters where I worked K8DRT for a second time (first was on 20M) and my “it wasn’t a real activation unless I worked him” buddy, K8RAT.

40 meters wasn’t in as good of shape as 20 meters was.

Having no way to spot myself to the POTA site, I didn’t attempt any SSB contacts–I would have at least for a while,  otherwise.


Here’s a real-time, real-life, no-edit, no-ad video of the entire activation:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Inner Peace through code…

Evidently, Morse code must have “resonated” with my meditating neighbor.

She didn’t move until I I was off the air–as if the conclusion of her session coincided with the end of my activation.

Obviously, a little CW helped her along her journey to inner peace. 🙂

I know it did for me!

Thank you

As always, thank you for reading this field report. I hope you take a little time to achieve your inner peace by playing radio outdoors! 🙂


Thomas (K4SWL)

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