Keith, I agree about all your main points.
Usually I start on 40 CW and move up in frequency, band by band. This results in many contacts, and it gives the chasers some options. It does not favor the higher frequencies, because most of the chasers have logged me before I go higher up.
Recently I did an activation of W0C/SR-052, Thorodin Mountain, and just for kicks, I started out calling CQ on 18.093 MHz CW. Thorodin is over 10,500 feet high, it’s quiet, and it has a nice low-angle takeoff from the east end of the summit ridge. I was spotted by the RBN Hole quickly, and within the first few contacts, it was obvious that I had not only the usual long skip to the East Coast, but also short, strong skip out for several hundred miles, probably sporadic E.
W0MNA and W0ERI were 599 from eastern Kansas. Usually they’re not audible on 17M here.
As the activation went along, I made contacts all over the USA, in many directions and distances. Eventually F4WBN and DJ5AV called from EU, and they were easy to work. There were S2S contacts, as well as many of my regular chasers, including many that I usually get on 40M.
This was a lot of fun, mostly because it was such a pleasant surprise. I was running 10W with my KX2, and just my normal 66-foot end-fed wire, which has a less-than-ideal pattern on 17M. It’s also not resonant, but my tuner feeds it well with no counterpoise.
The action didn’t stop until I had 30 17M contacts logged. I sensed than many of my chasers had fun too!
There was nothing particular going on with the sun that I could tie this too. The big solar activity dropped down more than a week ago. Sporadic E is really fun, and it enhances bands like 20 and 17M, as well as much higher frequencies. It comes and goes…
That’s it - vary your routine, and who knows, you might get lucky!