by William Eric McFadden


West Virginia Rivers RATpedition

Eric operating -- click to enlarge Two members of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team succeeded in activating Gauley River National Recreation Area as part of the ARRL's year-long National Parks on the Air (link). Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, and Miles McFadden, KD8KNC, activated Gauley River National Recreation Area, RC09 (link) at the Gauley Tailwaters.

This operation was intended to be the first leg of the three-activation West Virginia Rivers RATpedition group-activations by the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team. The original plan was for several SEORAT members to together travel to Gauley River National Recreation Area (RC09), New River Gorge National River (RV03), and Bluestone National Scenic River (WR02) over a weekend to perform activations. However, due to financial and time constraints, this plan fell through and Eric and Miles found themselves doing the RATpedition alone over what turned out to be a very long day-trip.

After a long drive from southeast Ohio, Eric and Miles arrived at the Gauley Tailwaters at about 1555 UTC, stopping at the park sign to snap a proof-picture, and then continuing on the parking area Eric had chosen based solely on Google Maps images. Fortunately, the area turned out to be ideal for a low-profile operation—high and in the clear, with sufficient space for setting up the station—and Eric and Miles quickly set up the station and Eric was on the air by 1607 UTC.

As at previous activations, Eric's station consisted of his Enhanced KX3 Travel Kit, his MFJ-1910 33' fiberglass telescoping mast, and a custom clipboard.

The Gauley River -- click to enlarge Eric began operations on 20m and his first QSO came at 1609 with WI5H. QSOs came steadily until Eric made his 17th QSO on 20m at 1630 UTC with W6MYN. Eric then switched to 40m and made his first QSO there at 1636 UTC with N3BJ. QSOs on 40m came quickly and steadily and his 37th and final QSO came at 1652 UTC with WA3LAB. All of Eric's QSOs were CW made at the 5-watt level.

Miles did not operate but helped with set-up and tear-down and did much of the activation photography.

Highlights of the activation were QSOs with N8XX and with fellow SEORAT-member K8RAT.

After tearing down the station, Eric and Miles continued down the road to view the river and Summerville Dam at the Tailwaters Campground and boat-ramp.