I woke up early Sunday morning knowing that the weather forecast was for fair and mild conditions, the 20 meter band conditions were good, and I wanted to activate a new park! There were several possibilities, none particularly nearby, and after a few moments of study I decided to try Coulee Experimental State Forest near Bangor WI, K-5578. A little after 10 am I turned onto Russian Coulee Road from Highway 162, and found myself near the bottom of a valley (“coulee”) which did not look promising, but the map showed another entrance off County II so I went to check there. Six cars nearly filled the parking area (located on a nice hilltop) with no room to deploy an antenna! It was also ideal weather for cross-country skiing!
Quickly, a backup plan! A few miles away was the La Crosse River State Trail, K-8673, and I headed there immediately, but found it difficult to find a workable drive-up location within 100 feet of the trail. The only one I found was a few miles outside Bangor on County U, but that spot was way too close to big overhead power lines; no thank you!
By this time it was almost 1 pm and there were no other parks within a reasonable distance so I decided to head back home. The direct route took me back past Coulee, so I stopped back in for a look; now there were 9 cars in the lot, and a 10th one arrived right behind me! Cross-country skiers won this time! Nothing to do but head for home, but by way of Wildcat Mountain S. P. which I had just activated last weekend for Winter Field Day.
I arrived at Wildcat Mountain at 2:20 pm and found only a few people there; I began to set up the Buddipole 20m vertical that seems to work so well, and in the (by now) above-freezing temperatures it only took about 20 minutes, (another timesaver was not using guys, again) and I was on the air by 3.
The band conditions were good, and I started tuning around, working several park-to-park contacts including a multi-op station in Ontario, (VE3GKT and VE3NEP) in the first hour. The real surprise came a bit after 4 when I worked EA7JWF ! Thank you, Tony in Cordoba Spain! QRP DX!
A few minutes after 5 pm I logged my 11th contact and called it a day while there was still enough light to see what I was doing, and I was homeward bound by 5:35.
As an aside, I am enjoying every day of the slow return of the sun. Six weeks ago it would have been completely dark at 5 pm. I am looking forward to spring weather and the return of hiking and outdoor operation!
Over a bowl of homemade chicken soup I got my paper log entered into Xlog (the only open-source logging program I have been able to get working under Linux Mint) and the POTA website accepted it on the first try! The QSO map is a last-minute addition; I have enjoyed seeing them on other QRP blogs, how better to illustrate the incredible reach of a low-power radio signal than this?
This makes 4 activations (out of 5 total) at K-1480, so, circling back to where I started, I really need to activate a few new parks, and soon!
Thanks for visiting driftlessqrp.com today!