This last weekend my wife and I camped Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park. Unlike some of you, we don’t have a detailed plan other than go camping and maybe activate some local summits. Such an approach does make it hard for those chasers that try to plan their chasing.
Even though the signs at the park entrance, when we turned off Skyline Drive at Big Meadows, and at the camp ground entrance all said the camp ground was full, we asked and they had an open spot. We ate lunch and set up camp. With those important things completed we decided to go down the road to Hawksbill, W4V/SH-001, the highest location in the park.
First person in the log answered a CQ while I was still trying to spot (20m). The next station after the spot was sent was Christian, F4BWN at 21:45 UTC at 59 and he gave me a 57 (FT-817, 5W, a KX0R inspired tuner and some wire). I was surprised to hear Europe that late in the day, but would Christian be the only one? I also worked G4IPB, PA5KM and as far west as Washington and California. Propagation was working pretty good on Friday afternoon/evening.
Later in the evening we went out to the Big Meadow to look at stars and view the Milky Way. Even though there is light pollution near the horizon, you still can see much more here than at home where we can’t even make out the Milky Way.
On the 3rd we went to a new peak for us, Robertson Mountain, W4V/SH-011. 20m was busy with a contest. Worked a POTA station on 20m and then went to 17m. Put out a spot and the first station to respond was Christian, F4WBN. I gave him a 55 and he gave me the same report. It wasn’t till after I worked him that I realized I still had the tuner in tune mode, so only about 1.25 watts radiated. Also heard EA4R, but he never acknowledged the report I sent, unfortunately. Worked a station in CA and TX and then called CQ some more, but no other takers. Went to 40m and worked some “local” stations.
Later on that same day we went to Stony Man, W4V/SH-002. (We parked in the Stony Man parking lot at Skyland to go to Robertson.) Found a spot on 20m with QRM on both sides, starting calling CQ and got a spot sent. Christian, F4WBN was the first to respond, 59 both ways, again starting to get late in the day, 20:17 UTC. Christian was the only European I heard, but I also worked CA, OR, WA, OK, KS. Also went to 40m and worked some stations. There was a first for me on this activation, I worked Martha, W0ERI, but not Gary. This has never happened to me before.
Overall a great weekend, with good weather (the initial forecast was not great for Sunday), some decent propagation, good views of stars and a meteor, making for an enjoyable time. Thanks to all the chasers for their help in making it a great weekend.