Spring on Knox Mountain

I've been itching to hike to Knox Mountain
for weeks... but the snow's been just too deep for
my small black lab, Meghan. She'd bite me if she
knew I went without her. But today was the day.
The trip was absolutely exhilarating, and it was
capped with three nice DX contacts with Italy,
Serbia and Hungary.

We've had a week of glorious weather in the 60s.
Even though there are spots with two feet of
snow in the woods, I thought I'd take a chance
that the trail was passable. We started the hike
around 3:00 in the afternoon.

Less than a quarter of a mile from the dirt road, this bridge
spans the brook. It was so great to hike across it again. The
roar of spring runoff made Meg and I feel giddy.

The trail was mostly dry. But here and there, along the
way, we ran into wet spots, or places where the snow
ran deep. But that snow had a few advantages. It
provided clues to the wildlife who also used the trail.
Giant moose tracks crossed at several places.
There were plenty of deer tracks too. At one place we
investigated a coyote scat replete with animal hair.

For a mile or so the brook runs close to the trail.

The walk in takes about 40 minutes. Ninety percent of the
way was clear and dry. Just before the last bridge we hit
a snow patch 50 feet long and a couple of feet deep. I cautiously
tamped the snow down with my shoes before putting my
weight down so I wouldn't crash shin-deep into the remnants
of winter. Shortly after crossing that bridge the cabin came
into view.

And what a great sight! Like an old friend. There was some
snow on the back side in the field, but the front was warm
and dry. I tossed a water bottle into a nearby tree to put
up the 20 meter Par End-Fedz half wave wire. I got it with
one throw. In a few minutes I was set up on the porch steps
with the ATS-3A and ready to go.

My first contact was with Willer, IK2UJS. He was pounding
in... way over S9. He gave me a 579 and when I told him
I was QRP with 4 watts, he sent back, "UR QRP SIG FB."
He was running 300 watts. I didn't tell him I was watching
a mallard swim across the pond in front of me.

The little ATS-3A is a joy to backpack and operate. It only
weighs a few ounces. I power it with a 750 mAh LiPo battery.

My second contact was with Atila, YU5RA in Serbia. He was
just as strong. I had to pull the earbuds away from my
ears, he was so loud. He gave me a 599, and I bet it was
an accurate report based on how strong he was. "Nice FB
SIG with 4 watts," he sent. We chatted for several minutes,
during which I flicked a tick off my leg as it crawled up. (How
DO these guys get going so early in the spring?)

Finally I answered HA7LW, Kalman in Hungary. At first he was
strong, but he quickly dropped down. So did I. He gave me
a 449 and we signed as the band changed.

With this I packed up and headed back toward the dam and
the return trail  to the car. During the summer, I try to get to
Knox Mountain at least once a week. It's a great place to
exercise both Meg and the ATS rig. We were back by 4:45.

73 Jim W1PID