First Spring Hike to Knox Mountain - 2010

We're having an early spring in New Hampshire.
During the last week, days have been nearly
55 degrees. So today I headed to Knox Mountain
for the first time this spring. I worked Bulgaria,
Portugal, Italy and North Dakota.

The trail was mostly dry. There were patches of
snow here and there, but much less than I expected.
The first bridge is about a quarter of a mile from
the trail head. I could hear the rushing brook as
soon as I started out.

There are falls just before and after the bridge. The
brook is racing at this time of year.

Just across the bridge there's a sharp left turn and
the trail begins to climb slowly. At the next rise,
the trail heads east away from the brook. About a
mile further, it rejoins the brook again.

There's a second bridge about a half mile further and
for a while the trail runs at the base of a very steep
hillside. Here it becomes a bit muddy. At one spot
I could feel the frost crunch beneath my feet. Suddenly
it gives way and my foot sinks into mud about four inches.
A quick expletive later, and I regained my balance and
continued along the brook.

Soon the cabin came into view. There is still some snow
in the shadow of the gable roof.

I pull the gear from my pack and prepare to launch a
half wave wire to use on 20 meters. I discover that
the line I throw into the tree is not in the pack. Darn!
I left it in a tree by the Pemigewasset River where I was
operating yesterday. Anyway, I take the water bottle
and attach it directly to the antenna wire and give it
a heave. Perfect branch... perfect length... the antenna
is up. (The issue is whether I can pull the water bottle
through the branches when I'm done... we'll see.)

First I go to 14.060 because Paul W0RW is operating
pedestrian mobile in Colorado. I can hear stations
working him, but I do not hear Paul. Oh, well... I
worked him successfully from the field a couple of days

First I work Ron WA2EKW in North Dakota. Ron is very
strong and we finish a quick exchange. Then I hear
a Bulgarian special event station... LZ132GO calling CQ.
We also exchange 599s and I move up the band to
I5TYQ in Florence. Roberto is calling CQ repeatedly but
he does not answer my call. He seems quite strong and
I wonder if my antenna angle is the cause... it's several
degrees off vertical. On a hunch, I move my backpack
(to which the antenna is attached) about six feet closer
to the tree. The antenna is now vertical. I try Roberto
again... and Wow! This time he answers me and gives me
a 559. For my final QSO I work CT1JOP in Portugal. Nelson
is simply booming in and he also gives me a good report.

My setup is pretty basic. I have the HB-1A with an 11.4 V
lithium ion battery pack. I am putting about 4 watts into
a 33 foot wire with the Par Electronics match box.

I pack up for the return hike. I give a tug on the antenna
hoping the water bottle does not wrap awkwardly around
a branch. Success! Bottle and wire coming crashing down and
I roll everything up.

I hike back to the car knowing that I'll have to drive down
toward the Pemi and walk another mile or so to retrieve the
antenna line I left by mistake in the woods. Once there, I find
the rope easily and wind it up. I've had a good radio week.
I worked R1ANB the Russian Research Station in Antarctica
with only 3 watts and I had a QSO with Thailand (QRO).
It's fun stuff.