Just as I was getting ready to move two water softener drain lines, I got a text message from my friend Jim Cluett, W1PID.
The plan was to set up along the shore of the Pemigewasset River just east of Profile Falls. Profile Falls is one of New Hampshire’s many dramatic waterfalls and is located about two miles south of Bristol, NH.
The weather was warm for this time of year in central New Hampshire. It was above 40 F by mid-morning when Jim texted me.
The Icy Trail to the Pemigewasset River
Late February in central New Hampshire can be icy. Daytime thawing freezes at night. Add to that we were going to a Corps of Engineers flood control basin where January flooding created massive sheets of ice we needed to navigate to get to the river.
The Towering Pine Tree
A towering majestic pine tree that’s at the top of the riverbank is about 1/3 of a mile from the parking lot. Jim and I were headed there to sit at picnic tables. The trail is very level, but had a layer of soft snow covering the ice that was suspended 16 inches or more in places above the frozen soil.
I didn’t waste any time getting my antenna into the huge pine tree. On my first throw, my water bottle soared over a branch about 40 feet in the air and dropped down perfectly straight just 7 feet from the corner of the picnic table.
In minutes I was on the air while Jim was playing patty-cake with his complex antenna, a design developed by W3EDP.
“What’s he doing? For goodness sake, I’ll have my first QSO before he even gets his radio out! This will be a first. He’s ALWAYS beat me in the past getting set up and making a Q (a singular QSO).”
That’s the thought that popped into my head as I was turning on my radio all while Jim was mumbling and cursing as he walked back and forth and back and forth across the ice between two trees.
Sure enough, my first QSO happened within three minutes of getting on the air. It was a DX (international) contact with Bruno, F5NTV in France. Thousands of operators in the Midwest and Western USA are jealous of us because we can get international (DX) contacts as easy as we work those west of us across the fruited plain of the USA.
Jim’s worked Bruno many times before, but he wouldn’t today.
The Howling Wind By the Pemigewasset River
Walking to the river the air was calm, we were both warm and it was delightful. But once I started to set up on the one table, I noticed the wind.
It was gusting and biting. When the WX starts to get your attention, it’s never a good thing. At one point a gust blew my Rite-in-the-Rain log book and launched my pen into the mud.
Within 30 minutes Jim and I were packing up to walk back to his car. My hands got cold because I had to take them out of my wool Morse muff to spin the VFO dial and write in my log book. Jim complained that everything on him was cold.
I made three QSOs in just under twenty-five minutes and was thrilled. Here’s my log for the outing:
Even though we were chilled, Jim and I agreed it was great to get out. The weather forecast for the next two weeks is promising. Let’s hope for some sunlight next time!