POTA Activation #19 - Lumber River State Park (NC) (7/9/2022)

I have to be honest -- POTA can be addictive. The operating part is a lot of fun, of course. The deployment of the equipment can be a fun challenge, where you have to make snap decisions about where to operate, which antenna to use, and where to deploy it. The logistics of planning and researching an activation can be a blast, especially when you can find places that exist in multiple parks at once. And actually visiting all these beautiful places is incredibly rewarding in itself. But even apart from the actual activation, the POTA web site turns the whole thing into a game where you're competing against yourself, gaining awards, and deciding what challenges you'd like to pursue. So, while in South Carolina, I was looking at the number of states I had activated parks and saw that I had already activated in 5 of them (Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia [not technically a state, but I'm counting it since POTA does], Florida, and South Carolina). I had already been planning on ways to venture out into other states, and it occurred to me ... I was about to drive back home through the state of North Carolina. I had not activated that state yet.

A quick look through the POTA park map and I realized there were some options not too far off my route going home. Closest to the route was a fishing lake just off I-95, but as I researched it, it didn't really appear to be suited for it. It was undergoing some construction and didn't really have any picnic facilities for me and my family to use during the activation. I had my folding table and chair with me, but didn't have enough for the three of us. Looking further I noticed the Lumber River State Park just South of Lumberton, NC. It wasn't too far from where we usually rejoined Interstate 95 and looked to be a pleasant little park that was free to visit and had picnic facilities. After consulting with the family, a plan was hatched. We would leave for the Lumber River State Park, make a quick activation, and then continue on home.

The park itself has two main access areas along the Lumber River which facilitate taking journeys down the river aboard a kayak or canoe. We decided to drive to the Princess Ann access area and were greeted by a sylvan setting that immediately took you past an office by the entrance, past a pavilion, and down to the river itself. There was a boat launch, some seating alongside the river, and a few primitive campsites that were available by the riverside.

I decided to setup under the large pavilion which was surrounded by trees suitable for the deployment of my end fed half wave antenna. The park was mostly empty, with the exception of a few park employees who were driving around. It was nice to be able to set-up in the shade of the pavilion and I was able to get the antenna in the air and the station on the air in short order. I started on 20m and my daughter assisted in calling CQ. Initially we got two contacts in quick succession with Pennsylvania and Mississippi and then things slowed down quite a bit. In the end we got two more SSB contacts with Indiana and Michigan. It was lunch time, stomachs were grumbling, and we still had many hours of driving ahead of us, so I broke out my trusty morse code paddle and moved down to the CW portion of the band and started calling CQ.

Once I got my spot into the network I started getting replies from New York, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, Idaho, Illinois, West Virginia, a trio of Texans, and finally a station in Nebraska. I was impressed that my signal got as far as Idaho. It definitely was the distance winner on this day, reaching nearly across the entire country. My activation had been made and then some with 15 contacts (4 SSB, 11 CW) in just 39 minutes. Since we had a long way to go, I quickly packed up the station and took a stop by the banks of the Lumber River to see some of the beauty the park had to offer.

It would have been a nice spot for a hike if we had more time. Even on our abbreviated schedule it was nice to take in the views from the banks of the Lumber River. With a quick activation another state was in the books, bringing my grand total to 6. If all goes well, another one should be added later this month. We were able to grab a quick lunch in Lumberton and then made our way back home, arriving home before dark. It was nice to be able to break up the long drive with an activation to stretch my legs and have some fun amidst the monotony of the road. It was definitely worth the stop.

Activation QSO Map: Red Pins = SSB, Green Pins = CW / Blue Lines = 20m

Gear used in this activation
  • Icom IC-705
  • MFJ 1984 MP End-Fed Half Wave Antenna
  • LDG Z100 Plus
  • CW Morse Pocket Double Paddle Morse Code Key with Magnets
  • CW Morse Steel Base for Pocket Paddles
  • RigExpert Stick Pro Antenna Analyzer
  • Icom LC-192
  • Bioenno 12V 6Ah LiFePO4 Battery
  • Sony Headphones
  • Dell XPS 13 Laptop
  • Rite in the Rain Notebook
  • Zebra DelGuard Mechanical Pencil