Many thanks to Conrad (N2YCH) who shares the following field report:
Connecticut POTA/SOTA combined activation
By: Conrad Trautmann, N2YCH
November 24, 2023
Looking for my next activation challenge, I wondered if there were any overlapping POTA parks with SOTA summits in the state of Connecticut. I’ve only done two SOTA activations to date, one in Maine and the other in New Hampshire. I thought, there must be a few in Connecticut.
On my home computer, I brought up both the POTA map and the SOTA mapping page and quickly realized that it would take too much time to try and compare the two maps. Instead, both sites offer KML exports, so I exported all of the Connecticut parks from the POTA site and the summits from the SOTA mapping page and imported both files into Google Earth Pro. A yellow push pin represented the POTA locations and a blue triangle the SOTA locations. It was easy to spot the overlapping sites. Mt. Carmel and Talcott Mountain are both POTA parks and Summits for SOTA. There are a few other SOTA sites that have POTA trails that cross over as well.
I decided to tackle Mt. Carmel, SOTA W1/HH-002 also POTA K-1717, Sleeping Giant State Park. I’d already activated Sleeping Giant for POTA before, but not from the summit. For a SOTA activation to count, the operator must be within the “Activation Zone” as defined by the SOTA rules.
The Connecticut state web site has good maps and information about the park and showed that the trail to get to the summit is an “easy” 1.6 mile hike. I thought that sounded like a reasonable distance. What they don’t tell you on the web site that it’s also a 600’ climb up in elevation from the trailhead to the summit. I knew it would require a climb, but I didn’t expect that. I made the trip up, but it was challenging, especially carrying my backpack with the radio, a VHF handheld, antenna, batteries, computer, water, etc. I plan to travel lighter the next time.
Before I get to the activation, a little about the park. It’s called Sleeping Giant because from a distance, the ridge looks like a person laying on their back.
It’s located in a mountain range called Hanging Hills which extends North from Long Island Sound through Connecticut and Massachusetts up to the Vermont border. Quinnipiac University is across from the entrance to the park and the Quinnipiac Indian Tribe once inhabited the area. Please indulge me as I also share the ghost story of “The Legend of the Black Dog of the Hanging Hills.”
“If a man shall meet the Black Dog once it shall be for joy; and if twice, it shall be for sorrow; and the third time he shall die.”
As the legend has it, the Hanging Hills area is haunted by the Black Dog. You don’t want him to cross your path three times. It’s this story that is the basis for the SOTA “Master of the Black Dog” certificate. “An activator must have entered valid activation logs from each and every summit in the Hanging Hills Region and must have survived all of the activations.” There are currently four summits in the Hanging Hills Region. I need this award.
So far, I have completed activating one of the four summits and did NOT see the black dog. Wish me luck on the remaining three.
The lookout tower at the summit is the main attraction of the park. Built in 1936, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It stands four stories tall and is 739’ above sea level, providing a 360 degree view in all directions and a clear view over New Haven to Long Island sound. According to the Sleeping Giant Park Association, over 100,000 people visit it each year.
For the activation, I found a bench to set up on with space behind me to set up the Chelegance MC-750 antenna. I ran FT8 on 20 meters beginning around 10 am ET and after roughly 30 minutes, moved up to 10 meters. My experience running QRP on digital modes is that I will cover the Eastern half of the US and some Europe on 20 meters. I can usually make contacts out to the West Coast and into Europe on 10 meters especially later in the day. By activating on both frequencies, I tried to cover as much area as I could to provide the best opportunity for hunters and chasers to reach me.
- Mindshift 18L Camera Bag Backpack for radio, cables, battery and computer
- Elecraft KX3 with CIV and audio cables
- Sabrent USB external sound card adapter
- Bioenno 1x 12V, 3Ah LFP Battery (PVC, BLF-1203AB)
- Chelegance MC-750 Portable HF Vertical Antenna with RG-316 cable
- Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 Alpha 2 in 1 Laptop with Outdoor mode
Looking at the map, you can see that I covered the Eastern portion of the US on 20 meters. It was also 10 am local time and still pretty early on the West coast. When I shortened up the antenna and retuned the KX3 for 10 meters, I started making contacts with Germany, Italy and other EU stations.
The hike down from the summit was much easier, the temperature had warmed up a bit and I stuffed my coat into the backpack for the trip down. When I got to my Jeep, I noticed a number of empty picnic tables nearby and decided to set up and get a few more POTA contacts while I was there. I ended up with 48 total for the day.
The summit I was at was an easy one (worth 1 point) compared to many and it was challenging to me. I came away from the experience with a new appreciation for the challenges SOTA activators face. I also came away with a new goal, to get the Master of the Black Dog certificate!