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SOTA: Gulf Road HP, December 14, 2021

I was a SOTA neophyte when I discovered this summit not far from home. It took a fair bit of head scratching to work out what HP meant: High Point. At 340 m (1115 ft), it's not all that high a point, but a summit is a summit and this one has become a favorite.

The Town of Shapleigh has managed 300 acres here as the "Williams Property" (brochure PDF) since it was donated to the townspeople in November 2011. There's a nice description of "Williams Town Park" on Maine By Foot

Despite its ease of access and proximity to population centers, the summit has only been activated 10 times through 2021. It was the first summit I activated specifically for SOTA, when I took a long lunch for a warmish January trudge over snow to the quiet peak. That inaugural activation began with a summit-to-summit contact via satellite with KE9AJ, an auspicious start. I managed 4 more satellite QSOs that day, plus I made eight contacts on 30 meters for an acceptable first effort. My failure to make a single 20-meter QSO was my cue to "do better" next time.

I returned to Gulf Road for the Trans-Atlantic S2S event in November last year, even though I wouldn't gain credit for the activation (the intelligent once-a-year rule). Making 53 contacts that day, many of them with European summits, was a thrill; the day still ranks #1 in my brief SOTA career.

This month's operation was my sixth activation of 2021, my target number for the year. I brought a quarter-wave ground plane for 20 and a dipole cut for 30 and, thankfully, the vertical performed. I quickly worked through a pileup on 20, then took that antenna down and raised the other. A single QSO on 10 MHz, even after being spotted, was disappointing. I'm still not sure if it was conditions, my antenna, or simple inactivity. A few calls on 2-meter simplex netted nothing, so I was soon on my way.

On each visit to Williams Town Park, I have taken the short, steeper route to the summit and back, but this time I completed the loop and gained even more respect for this lovely park. A stellar view of the White Mountains and a passage by two small ponds convinced me to return in the spring for my 2022 activation.

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