by William Eric McFadden

From the Strouds Run State Park website:

Located outside of the city of Athens and within easy driving distance of Ohio University, Strouds Run State Park surrounds Dow Lake and draws a mix of trail and lake users. Miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding provide scenic views from rugged trails. The lake offers boating, paddling, swimming and a shaded campground.



On Saturday, July 15, 2023, one member of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team performed a successful activation of Strouds Run State Park (K-1994) as part of the Parks on the Air (POTA; link) program.

It being the Saturday of POTA Support Your Parks Day, Summer, and with the yard being too wet to mow, Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, chose to perform a POTA activation with his new KX2 Mini Travel Kit, and he chose to do so by hiking Chestnut Trail in Strouds Run State Park with his small dog, Theo.

Eric and Theo arrived at the Chestnut Trail trailhead near the swimbeach and Lakeview picnic shelter, parked the car, grabbed all the gear, and began the hike up Chestnut Trail toward the overlook. Eric was carrying his KX2 Mini Travel Kit over his left shoulder; on his belt he carried a water bottle; and on his back he carried a backpack containing a clipboard of copy-paper, an old pilot's kneeboard with mini logsheets, his Goture Red Fox Super Hard 720 carbon fiber mast, two towels1, a rain poncho, a 25-meter arborist's throw-line and weight, and a can of bug-spray. Theo was carrying nothing but he made sure to smell everything along the trail.

Eric found what he thought was the overlook but continued the hike, just to be sure. Turning left at the "T" with the Broken Rock Trail, Eric and Theo walked a portion of the Broken Rock Trail before turning back to return to the overlook.

The overlook was essentially a really big rock with moss and trees growing on it. Whatever had previously been visible from the overlook was now hidden by the forest canopy, but the area was relatively flat and was large enough to set up a station. Eric studied the trees and, because of the density of trees and his lack of practice with the arborist's throw line, he decided to support his Tufteln (link) 35' End-Fed Random Wire (EFRW) antenna as a sloper up to the top of his Goture Red Fox Super Hard 720 carbon fiber mast leaning into one of the trees. He laid out a towel to sit on and set up his Elecraft KX2 on the towel, connected the antenna, throwing the single 17' counterpoise wire over the edge of the overlook, and was on the air at 1525 UTC.

As he had hoped, Eric found he had good cell-signal at this location and would be able to spot himself on the POTA Spots website and to use POTA Spots to identify possible Park-to-Park (P2P) QSOs.

Eric began his operation on 20m by finding himself a frequency to run and calling "CQ POTA", and was pleased to be quickly auto-spotted on POTA Spots. His first QSO came at 1527 UTC with WB9HFK in Illinois. QSOs came steadily, with Eric's tenth QSO coming at 1539 UTC with KT5V in Texas. This run included QSOs with operators located in Illinois, Tennessee (2), Arkansas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas (2), Florida, and Indiana.

When replies stopped coming to his calls of "CQ", Eric switched to 40m. Immediately upon switching bands, Eric heard a station "CQ POTA" and at 1543 UTC he completed a P2P QSO with N9UH at Crane Pond State Game Land (K-6650) in Michigan. Not finding that N9UH had been spotted, Eric inserted a spot for him on POTA Spots.

Finding himself a frequency to run on 40m, Eric began calling "CQ POTA" and self-spotted himself on POTA Spots. His first QSO in this run came at 1548 UTC with W9NOP in Illinois. QSOs came more quickly than anticipated, with Eric's sixth QSO in this run coming at 1554 UTC with AC8KJ in Ohio. This run included a P2P QSO with K8RLE at Lake Interstate State Game Land (K-6715) in Michigan and QSOs with operators located in Illinois, Michigan (3), North Carolina, and Ohio.

Knowing that rain and a thunderstorm were approaching from the west, Eric finished his activation with seventeen QSOs logged, including two P2P QSOs, in just about a half-hour of on-air time. All of Eric's QSOs were CW and were made at five watts output.

Back at the trailhead at Dow Lake, Eric was surprised by the number of people on the water in kayaks, in power boats, and on boards.

Eric also submitted his log to the World Wide Flora and Fauna in Amateur Radio (WWFF; link) program for an activation of Strouds Run State Park, KFF-1994.


[1] "Listen. It's a tough universe. There's all sorts of people and things trying to do you, kill you, rip you off, everything. If you're going to survive out there, you've really got to know where your towel is." — Ford Prefect