Livermore Falls Campton, NH QRP Adventure

The hot temperatures today gave me a chance to do a much-needed outdoor radio adventure with Jim, W1PID at the stunning Livermore Falls located in a deep gorge of metamorphic rock sliced in two by the Pemigewasset River.

I’m re-roofing my house and it’s so hot on the roof after 10 a.m. when the sun’s out, I’ve decided for my own safety and sanity to work early morning and late afternoon unless it’s cloudy. Today was a therapeutic day of outdoor radio for the soul.

Here's an old bridge that used to have cars go across the top. The span to the left in the photo has already collapsed from age.

Here’s an old bridge that used to have cars go across the top. The span to the left in the photo has already collapsed from age.

Livermore Falls is a great spot for young people who come to swim and swing from a long rope tied to an old rusty bridge splashing into the cool deep water of the Pemi as locals call it.

You know if this bridge could talk it would have scores of great stories. Imagine what it could say about some of the times the river was raging below trying to sweep the iron away.

You know if this bridge could talk it would have scores of great stories. Imagine what it could say about some of the times the river was raging below trying to sweep the iron away.

Today I was fishing for some DX above the frothy water and barely avoided a skunk even though the 20-meter band was pulsating from dead to alive much like blobs float around in a lava lamp.

Jim set up in the sun about 100 feet away in the hot sun under his new dipole antenna. With his multi-band Elecraft KX3 he worked Russia, Israel, and Italy. I was restricted to 20 meters because I couldn’t get my par EndFedz antenna up as high as I would have liked to take advantage of its 40-meter extra length.

The KX3 gives you so many possibilities with its built-in tuner.

The KX3 gives you so many possibilities with its built-in tuner.

When I first powered up my trusty HB-1B the band was dead. I mean no breath, no signals, no nothing dead-on-arrival DEAD. My radio, on it’s best day, puts out a meager five watts. This is the upper threshold of low-powered radio, better known as QRP.

If you decide to do outdoor QRP radio, you discover in short order that to be successful you need some luck and patience. Today I was looking for a little help from the sun since it wasn’t scalding me on my roof. I needed it to energize the atmosphere just right to help me make a contact or two or three.

But that’s the fun of outdoor radio. You don’t know what you’ll get and so much depends on things you can’t control. This is what makes a completed QSO that much more fulfilling.

I tuned up and down 20 meters and all of a sudden while at 14.060 I heard the faintest CQ being called.

It was Roger, K3RNC from Maryland. He answered me back. After exchanging RST reports, I gave him a generous 359 and he have me a 559, I told him I was QRP.

His response, “QRP ALSO.”

How cool was that?

Here I am moments after my QSO with Roger in Maryland. TNX Roger!

Here I am moments after my QSO with Roger in Maryland. TNX Roger!

After my QSO I walked up to tell Jim and he was busy working a station. He then got up and came down and put his arm around me.

“What’s that for?” I asked because it’s rare for us men to show affection.

“I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you made a contact. It’s a fantastic day here,” he replied with a huge grin on his face.

It’s has been an odd spring this year with me gone to Antigua and then coming back working on my roof. What I thought would be lots of outdoor radio days this season has turned into just an outing here and there for me.

I enjoy Jim’s company and I know he does mine even if I still have pitiful slow CW skills. It’s no matter. I’m getting better and I’m having fun. He’s always told me to focus on fun, but keeps saying I’ll have more fun if I’m faster.

Only time will tell, but it ain’t talkin’. Who knows better than Kenny Chesney.

I love everything about Livermore Falls. My college degree is geology and seeing very hard rock resist the cutting action of running water for thousands of years is almost as exciting as making a contact pulling faint radio waves from the ether.

This kind of beauty surrounds Jim and I in NH. We're so lucky to live here.

This kind of beauty surrounds Jim and I in NH. We’re so lucky to live here. You can see how high the water can get looking at the dead tree impaling the fence and the driftwood above it.

Before I set up, I decided to take a walk to the base of the bridge where it connects to the earth. I wonder how many drivers would go over the bridge again year ago if they saw how one of the primary piers was supported on stacked slabs of granite!

There's no substitute for gravity and friction.

There’s no substitute for gravity and friction.

It’s easy to forget how blessed I am being able to drive just 30 or 45 minutes from my house to countless gorgeous scenic outdoor locations here in New Hampshire.

My guess is tens of thousands of other operators across the world would jump at the chance to do what Jim and I do. I remind myself after each outing to never ever take this beauty for granted.

I’ll do my best to chronicle and share each scenic outdoor adventure with you as they happen. If you have a chance to get outdoors, do it. It’s a completely different amateur radio experience.

 

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