First Warm Day of 2012
March 2012

What a day! The thermometer topped 60 degrees. I heard a cardinal singing this morning
as I got into the car. The sky is blue. Hanz, W1JSB and I met before lunch and headed to
Knox Mtn. The largest X class flare in over five years has just bombarded earth. That doesn't
stop us from bringing a QRP rig and plenty of optimism.

We walked east on a logging road. Hanz wears only a polo shirt. There are still four inches of
snow from the last storm. We probably should have brought skis...  The trail is spotted with
the tracks of moose, rabbit and wild turkeys. After a mile, we turn down toward the brook.

How glorious to see the stream begin to flow again. The old route to the cabin is temporarily
out of commission. The property owners have removed the second bridge. The timbers were
all rotting. This summer we'll move a few rocks around to make a suitable pathway across
the brook. Until then, we'll take a detour.

The sight of the cabin across the pond under a brilliant blue sky is thrilling. There's still
ice on the pond, but it will melt quickly in this weather. I have brought the HB-1B, and
two spools of wire. I was going to set up a half-wave end fed for 20 meters... but I
discover that I put the tuner in the wrong pack! I have no tuner. Not to worry. I have
a BNC-to-binding post adapter... we'll make a half wave dipole (with no feed line).
I throw one wire into a tree near the cabin porch, and we run a second wire across the
porch, around a supporting beam and then attach it to a stick we place in the snow.
Before attempting any contacts we each enjoy an apple my wife has packed. Perfect!

40 meters sounds dead... I hear a couple of stations from Quebec speaking French
in the phone portion of the band. So we know there's some possibility for a QSO.
I span the CW band a few times and finally hear Rick, VE3MFN calling CQ on 7029.
He's pretty strong. He answers "VE2PID." Pierre operates QRP from Quebec, so Rick
made a good guess at the call. He gets the right call on the next over and my signal
picks up enough for a nice QSO. Who needs a tuner? Or propagation?

Hanz has brought his VX-7R handie-talkie. The built-in thermometer reads 76F on
the porch. That's about what we estimated. Summer! It can't be far away.

We pack up and hike back to the road. It takes about 40 minutes. Mud season in
New Hampshire is a sure sign of spring. The dirt road down the mountain is so soft,
that at times the car just slides along following the ruts. At home I hear the call of
red-wing blackbirds. There is no sweeter sound.