by William Eric McFadden

From the Strouds Run State Park website:

The park derives its name from the Strouds family who settled in the area in the early 1800s. The land was purchased by the state for forest conservation purposes from 1948 to 1953. The dam creating Dow Lake was completed in 1960. The lake bears the name of C.L. Dow of Ohio University who was instrumental in initiating the project.



On Sunday, October 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.

On a cool, blustery, overcast day that promised rain—in other words, a perfect Fall day—Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, chose to perform a POTA activation along Hickory Trail with his small and lightweight KX2 Mini Travel Kit and with his small and lightweight dog, Theo.

Eric and Theo arrived at the Hickory Trail trailhead located at the Dow Lake Dam at about 1530 UTC. After giving Theo a chance to smell and mark things, Eric gathered his gear and he and Theo began their hike along Hickory Trail at 1540 UTC. Eric was carrying his KX2 Mini Travel Kit over his left shoulder; 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, a trash-bag, and an old towel1. Theo was carrying nothing but he made sure to stop and smell everything along the trail.

After about a half-mile of hike, Eric arrived at the area he had been hoping to find still there, a cleared area on the lakeside, to which he and his wife had taken their children to many years ago. The cleared area was still there, as was the lovely tree, but the swing that had been hanging from the tree was gone.2

The hike out, as recorded by Strava:

Eric found a spot where the ground was soft enough to accept his mast-supporting stake and deployed his Tufteln (link) 35' End-Fed Random Wire (EFRW) antenna as a sloper up to the top of the Goture Red Fox Super Hard 720 carbon fiber mast supported on the stake. He laid out a trash-bag and a towel to sit on and set up his Elecraft KX2 on the towel, connected the antenna, extending a single 17' counterpoise wire roughly in line with the radiator, and was on the air at 1607 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 quickly auto-spotted on POTA Spots. His first QSO came at 1611 UTC with WA2QLK in New Jersey. QSOs came quickly on 20m, with Eric's eleventh QSO coming at 1622 UTC with WS9K in Missouri. This run included a P2P QSO with KJ5W at Tyler State Park (K-3059) in Texas and QSOs with operators located in New Jersey, Washington, Texas (2), Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas, North Carolina, Georgia, Alaska (!), and Missouri. At some point during this run, little Theo-dog forced his way onto Eric's lap, leaving Eric to juggle on his lap a dog, an 8½x11 clipboard for CW-copy, a 5x7 clipboard for logging, and a CW paddle; somehow, Eric succeeded.

When replies stopped coming to his calls of "CQ", Eric switched to 40m. His first and only QSO on that band came at 1626 UTC with KB3CVO in Pennsylvania.

Eric finished his operation by checking POTA Spots for P2P QSO opportunities and he succeeded in making four P2P QSOs:

In all, Eric logged sixteen QSOs, including five P2P QSOs, in just about thirty-five minutes of on-air time. All of Eric's QSOs were CW and were made at five watts output.

Eric took some photos, tore down the station, and loaded up, and he and Theo hiked back to the trailhead.

The hike back in:

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

[2] Eric's daughter, Kate, maintains she took her parents to the clearing with the swing, not the other way around.