by William Eric McFadden

From the park's website:

Beech Fork State Park is the perfect place for your next vacation. Enjoy the outdoors while making lasting memories with your family. Located in the hills of southwestern West Virginia, this 3,144-acre park offers hundreds of campsites, miles of hiking trails and plenty of exciting lake activities for the whole family to enjoy until the sun goes down. The sprawling 720-acre lake has 31 miles of shoreline where you can cast a line and catch some of West Virginia's most popular sport fish. Thinking about a long weekend? Beech Fork is only 12 miles from Huntington and Barboursville, making it a perfect getaway for visitors from neighboring states and cities, like Cincinnati, Ohio and Lexington, Kentucky.



A view of Beech Fork Lake On Sunday, October 27, 2019, one member of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team performed a successful activation of Beech Fork State Park in West Virginia as part of the Parks on the Air (POTA; link) program. Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, was accompanied by his wife Vickie, KC8MAJ, and their two small dogs, Theo and Mindy.

Eric, Vickie, and the dogs arrived at Beech Fork State Park on the beautiful Fall day at about 1630 UTC and, after studying the park map, made their way to the boat-ramp and fishing pier area just north of the Four Coves Camping Area. After a quick picnic lunch on the fishing pier, Eric and Vickie deployed the 28½' wire vertical on the 31' Jackite telescoping fiberglass mast supported on the drive-on mount and Eric set up his KX3 on his folding camp-chair adjacent to the base of the mast. Eric was on the air at 1654 UTC.

Wanting to give his good friend and fellow SEORAT-member K8RAT, Mike, a QSO, Eric started operations on 80m and a QSO with Mike was made immediately at 1654 UTC. At this time, Eric made two more QSOs on 80m, with NE4TN at 1703 UTC and with VE3LDT at 1707 UTC.

Switching to 40m at 1710 UTC, Eric made a second QSO with VE3LDT at 1713 UTC. QSOs on 40m came quickly, with Eric's ninth QSO on 40m coming at 1726 UTC with N1QLL who operates off-the-grid QRP in a barn on the Maine coast.

An old log cabin Not expecting much out of 20m, Eric switched to 20m at 1730 UTC and his first QSO there came at 1736 UTC with W6LEN. QSOs on 20m came much more steadily than Eric had expected, with fourteen QSOs being made in just under half an hour. Surprisingly, six QSOs were with DX stations: IW2BNA in Italy, ON4VT and ON4ON in Belgium, EA2IF in Spain, and F1BLL and F4HZR in France. (Eric also logged HS9AFI but suspects he copied the callsign incorrectly since the prefix HS9 is assigned to Thailand and given the current point in the solar cycle and time-of-day, a QRP QSO with a station in Thailand seems unlikely.) On 20m, Eric also made a park-to-park QSO at 1741 UTC with KA3QLF who was activating K-2375, Sam Houston Jones State Park in Louisiana.

Finally, Eric returned to 80m for a QSO at 1812 UTC with his father, W8EOG.

All of Eric's QSOs were CW and were made at the 5-watt level.

Vickie did not operate but helped with station set-up and tear-down and kept track of Theo and Mindy during the operation.

Eric also submitted his log to the World Wide Flora and Fauna in Amateur Radio (WWFF; link) program although he didn't make enough QSOs to to achieve a valid activation within the program which requires 44 QSOs be made. However, the WWFF program allows these 44 QSOs be made over any number of visits so a valid activation within WWFF is still possible if subsequent visits to the park are made.