So POTA has been a great learning exercise for me. I’ve spent a ton of time going through youtube videos, talking to my elmer about operating and general specs investigations. My first POTA went off very well but after my first attempt to activate K-0955 I would say I had a bit of luck.
I had originally thought I would start off doing SOTA especially being in Colorado with all those tasty mountain points so close. Alas it is not to be (yet). I ended up with POTA for the primary reason that it’s a lot easier to get me and the rest of the family to a park than it is to get them to the top of a mountain regularly. Shocking I know.
So when we were headed out on our family summer trip it was rather timely with starting to run some parks and I couldn’t pass up trying to activate my second state on my second POTA. The first try didn’t go so well but the second at least worked.
On the first attempt most of the family was busy other than me and KF0GHQ. So we loaded up the gear into the car and headed to the Piedras Marcadas Trailhead at K-0955. Looking at the park info this was the only trailhead that was open after 4/5 pm. Now with this trailhead the parking lot, as far as I can tell, is not in the actual park. So we threw the equipemnt on our backs and headed in. To be honest it’s only something like a hundred yards to the first fork which heading right takes you through a marked trail to the top of a hill. “Perfect” I thought. A short bit later, which was equally as short, the path veared left but also went right to a dead end and we started setting up the mast to the right. Here is where I started to realize that this might not end well. To make sure we didn’t damage the park at all we stayed right on the edge of the trail. I started sinking the tent steaks I tie the mast to but could only get it in about three inches and then hit a hard layer. With a bit of pushing they kinda stayed. We started pushing up the mast and wouldn’t ya know it, a decent wind and tent steaks that are sunk in just slightly better than sand does not work well. For a short second or two I really contemplated having KF0GHQ hold up the mast for the activation. I discarded that just as quick because I would really like her to go to parks with me again! So we decided to pack everything up and head back to the hotel. We didn’t go hiking around as the rest of the family wanted to see the petroglyphs with us and we would be back so no reason to stick around.
A couple days later we were set to head out of Albuquerque and visit K-0955 on our way out and this time I had a better plan. Not a great foolproof no way it could fail plan but Google Street view from a distance said I had a chance. At the Rinconada Canyon trailhead the parking lot was inside the park and it looked like there were some gorgeous fence posts I could lash my mast to even if there was that dastardly wind and sand! Assuming the pixelated street view was what I thought it was and it was up to date.
Arriving at Rinconada Canyon it was all correct! The only thing I saw possibly causing issues is that the fence posts had wire run along them and my dipole would be over it. Just had to put the antenna up a ways and hope it didn’t interfere too bad. The antenna went up great and I lashing it to a pole just behind where I parked. Very quickly after I was seeing if a frequency was clear.
The swr on the radio was reading sufficiently low through all of this and called it good. It did take a bit of calling to get to 11 contacts. I figured having an extra would be a good idea just in case as it would be quite a while before I would be back to New Mexico to try and activate a park in the state.
Just after getting my 11th contact a volenteer park ranger stopped over and was querious of what was going on. The gentleman was super nice and gave him my contact info as well as let him know about pota.app in case he wanted to know more. So after that I cleared off the frequency and we drove up to the original spot I had gone for some hiking and viewing of the Petroglyphs! Some of those pics are below and highly recommend going to see them! All the signs are really informative and the petroglyphs are just awesome! Going when the trails open or early in the morning was also a lot nicer because it was much, much cooler!
So one thing I do when setting up for a park is get my log in HAMRS and create a temp contact to make sure my settings are saved. Now I heard this is the way to do it but thinking about it I should really test it. To say the least I’m super glad I made sure to get 11 contacts even if contacts were harder to get because one of those was a false! At least I got my ten and activated K-0955 and New Mexico!
All in all it was a great time and learned some things but also a conundrum of what I’m going to do for when I want to operate where the ground doesn’t support steaks and there isn’t anything to lash a mast to. I joked with the family I need a new antenna but still would rather build something ha ha!
Some pics from the trip:
Woke up to some hot air balloons!