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SOTA: Pine Mountain, September 18, 2021

For a combination QRP Afield / New Hampshire QSO Party / SOTA excursion, I went to Pine Mountain (W1/NL-022) in Alton, Belknap County, New Hampshire, a 45-minute drive. The summit is within the Evelyn H. & Albert D. Morse, Sr. Preserve, a property of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. 

Google delivered me to the non-preferred parking place, which is a narrow, gravel roadside sloping to a ditch. I was the only one there.

I walked the Mary Jane Morse Greenwood Trail, 1.2 kilometers and "strenuous" per SPNHF, with tall weeds and waist-high saplings in its center. Going up, I counted 7 monarchs, 1 woman, and 1 dog.

The "Do Not Block Gate" sign is just to the right of this one.

Monarch migration is under way. I counted 7 on the hike up and viewed others from the summit.

My one roadblock was easy to overcome.

Up top, I was surprised to find more people — a hawk watcher and two others. Since there hadn't been any other cars along the road, I thought I'd be alone. The main trail delivered another dozen people over the next 3 hours.

The summit was brushy but bald enough for me to find an out-of-the-way spot with a convenient pine for holding a wire. The deployment wasn't the best and, once again, I was weaker than I should have been. Twenty meters was my only reliable band. That's where I met my SOTA and NHQP goals and logged a few for QRP Afield, just 2 of whom sent NEQRP numbers: W0ITT and W1PID.

I mistakenly wrote W1/NL-002 on my logbook cheat sheet and sent the wrong reference during a couple of early CQs and my first summit-to-summit contact (corrected via email). On my 12th QSO, AC1Z (tnx Bob) informed me of my error (from W4V/HB-033!) and I stopped pretending I was on Belknap; spots were correct. I logged 38 on HF while participating in the Scandinavian Activity Contest, Washington State Salmon Run, Texas and Iowa QSO parties, Wisconsin Parks on the Air event, and the aforementioned on-air activities. I missed the NJQP, failed to get the attention of WB1Z (WBZ centenary), and didn't hear W1Chowdercon. It was the 37th activation of Pine Mountain and 11th this year (5 by AC1Z). 

Alton Bay opens up to Lake Winnipesaukee. This view comes from below the summit, where the early-seral brushland meets the forest edge.

After 2 hours operating (15:50-17:50 UTC), I packed up and put out a few calls on 146.58 and .52, raising nothing. I watched for hawks, looked for a geocache, and after an hour tried one last plea on .52. Success! KM1NDY had apparently just summited Whiteface Mountain and gave me a S2S and the Grafton multiplier (my only NH in the NHQP).

My original plan had me activating 3 other counties in the afternoon, but first I tarried then I decided to skip the driving. The Salmon Run, especially, left little room for a QRP CQ in a party that paled by comparison. I didn't want the day to devolve into frustration.

Mindy and her hiking ham pal are out there. Whiteface is about 1/4 of the way toward the right edge of the plaque, number 2 in the Ossipee Mountains group, but way over to the left on the real horizon.

  • Would activate again. 
  • Winter is well within reason (11 activations in January and February). 
  • Next time, use the town forest parking lot.



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