On a Scale of 1 to 5
KX3; Yaesu FT1DR, RSPi
On The Air:
Number of QSO's
Sweeden, Spain, Russia, Czech Republic
Unlike the west with vast amounts of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, the east coast has somewhat limited free areas of land to roam and camp. A good resource to research these sites is Protectedlands.net
I also used Google and found a Maine state listing of public lands, one of them being Donnel Pond Public Lands north of Mount Desert Island. This site has two SOTA summits, Black Mountain (W1/EM-013) and Schoodic Mountain (W1/EM-16). My plan was to hike in and activate Black Mountain, camp at the pond for the night and then hike over to Schoodic Mountain for an early morning activation.
After a quick drive down a gravel road in the middle of nowhere Maine, proven by the fact that this public land was located in an unorganized township, I arrived at Schoodic beach parking lot. After several miles and decent elevation gain I made it to Black Mountain as indicated by my SOTA research. The problem however was that it didn’t match up with the topographic map and summit signage. According to the topo, Black mountain was about 0.5 miles from where SOTA indicated where it was supposed to be. I have witnessed this before in Acadia Park (Western Mountain).
I made it to the summit which turned out to have excellent views and a good gusty 20 kt winds which helped keep the bugs at bay.
Arriving at the summit, I got my Arrow antenna out and starting banging out VHF contacts. One of these was Andrew, N1WMR who I have worked several summits prior. He was in the town literally right below me. I also eeked out a contact with KF2OG (original gangster) who was in Lincolnville, Maine about 40 miles away.
I then switched over to HF and realized I had zero cell service. I went old school and just started calling CQ SOTA hoping the SOTA Alert would pick me up. Not long after calling CQ SOTA, I logged a contact from Sweden (SA4BLM), Spain (mi amigo, EA7GV), Czech Republic (OK3PDT), and Russia (UA3TCQ). With the exception of Espana, the rest were all first DX on CW for me.
As I was working these awesome DX stations, my hiking pole fell over. I manage to quickly get it back up vertical in time to finish the activation. One thing I need to do is setup some kind of loop on the top of my hiking pole so I can easily clip in my antenna for this type of antenna configuration. I also was using a 16.4′ counterpoise with my Packtenna as I was having issues in the past tuning the 40m. I think I when I originally cut the wire I cut it more for the center of the band and not the CW section where I tend to hang out these days.
Also, the sun was pretty intense so I put on my Buff to protect my face, giving me the portable operator guerrilla look. Good thing no one else was around on the summit.
After activating the summit, I packed up and headed down to the pond where I would be camping for the night.
Upon arriving I was pretty impressed with the 5 or 6 different campsites that were available. There was a couple nearby who had arrived by a small powerboat and looked at me like I was crazy while setting up my tent.
On the way to the campsite I noticed some pretty large paw prints in the sand. Bear? If you notice the adult human shoe next to it for scale, the print looks pretty big.
There was a really nice wind coming in off the water which kept the mosquitos to a mininum. I filtered some water with my new BeFree water filter but noticied a strong plastic taste. Perhaps it needs to be flushed before using?
I also set up my Packtenna antenna and attempted to do some FLDigi. I say attempted becuase my KX3 wasn’t engaging during transmit. Carrying 5-6 pounds of gear to do digital, with the mess of wires and power required is kind of pain in the ass. At the end of the day I would rather just carry a QRP CW radio and paddle. Simplicity is key while backpacking, even at the campsite.
Another change I have made is to carry a cuben fiber rock bag. In the past I would carry a small weight or arborist bag to get my antenna and bear bag lines into trees. With the CF bag, I just use sand or rocks at the site for weight. This along with my window shade cord makes the perfect setup for lightweight and quick line deployment.
The next morning I had breakfast and headed back towards the trailhead. The weather looked unsettled so I decided to call it and head home. Considering Schoodic Mountain is only an hour away, I decided to save it for another day.