Swain State Forest POTA Activation – Tough Going!
I activated Swain State Forest K-4969 today. New Hampshire has quite a few state forests and this one happens to be directly across Lake Winnisquam from my home. I should say I barely activated it getting the required ten contacts in 90 minutes.
We were blessed again with rare deep warmth for early spring. The temperature was 63 F but in the direct sun you could easily be in a purple polo shirt and khaki shorts. My mentor Jim Cluett, W1PID, was dressed in this attire a few miles away on Johnson Hill in Sanbornton, NH.
He was doing outdoor radio too and I logged him not once, but twice today. It’s so magical to contact another operator who’s doing low-powered radio outdoors!
No Cell Service = No Self Spotting
After I got my antenna up in this wonderful tall pine tree, I decided to text Jim to see if he could spot me so other radio operators would know the frequency I was on. I was stunned to discover there was no cell service. You’ve got to be kidding me.
I set up on a moss-covered rock thinking it would be somewhat comfortable. I was wrong. Within a few minutes my rump was aching and I knelt down on the soft bed of pine needles on the forest floor.
Jim Finds Me
A moment after turning on my radio, Jim found me. The trouble was there was another operator camped out very close to that frequency so I needed to move. He spotted me and a few Parks on the Air chasers found me. I’m talking just a few. This could get ugly fast.
Once the few operators made contact, I started hunting for others calling CQ. I even tried calling CQ for minutes on end with little luck. I switched to 40 meters and gathered a few more contacts.
I heard IK2CKR in Italy. He had a very strong signal so I thought he’d hear me. Nope, not today. So much for living a pure and simple life.
After nearly an hour and a half I needed just one more contact to make the required ten. I wandered up to 14.062 and heard Jim contacting my second contact of the day, WA3GM. He was also a POTA activator. I was desperate to talk with Jim, but couldn’t break in as that’s not polite.
I went to 14.060 and called CQ. Jim heard me! It was a miracle. I sent: QSY 7030 7030. He’s a pro and knew that I needed to work him again but on a different frequency. Moments later we finished the QSO and I packed up and left.
I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t make more contacts because my antenna was fantastic. The only thing I can think of is that I was only 30 feet away from a high-tension electric line that services all the houses on the eastern shore of Lake Winnisquam.
Jim told me on the phone when I got home that he heard other operators trying to contact me, but I never heard them. Without Jim’s help today, I would still be over there gathering up dry pine needles to make a bed to stay warm tonight!
I’m going to try an inverted V antenna tomorrow on my next activation. Stay tuned.