POTA Activation #58: A New West Virginia Park En Route to Hamvention with Gersohn (WV) (5/17/2023)

My buddy Gersohn and I decided that this was the year to make the trek out to the QRP ARCI Four Days in May (FDIM) conference and Dayton Hamvention. FDIM is the premier conference for QRP (low power) Amateur Radio Operators, with a focus on building radios, accessories, and sharing knowledge. Attending the conference was somewhat of a bucket list item of mine, so I was excited when the stars aligned and I was able to make the trek out to Fairborn, Ohio to attend. I was even more excited when upon mentioning it to my buddy Gersohn, KO4IUK, he was interested in joining me. FDIM's big day is Thursday with the seminars, but there are also evening events on Friday and Saturday. Dayton Hamvention runs from Friday-Sunday, so you can easily attend both. So, as you can imagine, our thoughts immediately went to ways we could get activations in on the route to and from the convention. I planned a route and found a few parks along the way, but unbeknownst to me, Google Maps had different ideas and it took us on another route out to Ohio. I only realized this after we were past the point of no return, so we quickly found a park in West Virginia that was right off our route (less than a mile off the Interstate) and decided to do a quick mobile activation.

Coopers Rock State Forest is located a stone's throw from Interstate 68 about 13 miles from Morgantown, West Virginia. Right as you get off the road there is a large gateway that you pass under to let you know you're entering the park, and we immediately saw a parking lot that looked perfect for our activation. We could not have asked for more perfect accommodation as the parking lot was spacious and mostly empty, was surrounded by a beautiful sylvan setting, was high atop a mountain, had a picnic table under a shelter, and even had bathroom facilities. Amazing -- this is a place I'd love to explore more of on a future visit. Since we had the mobile setup, we were able to get on the air quickly and chose to use the 20m band in the hopes of a getting a quick and efficient activation.

This would be an all SSB pass-the-mic affair, so we fired up HAMRS, spotted ourselves on the POTA spotting page, and started calling CQ. We didn't have to wait long until we got our first contacts with prolific activator and hunter AD0WN in Missouri. He was coming in 59 to us, although he was doing some work on his side hearing us 44. Next up was a Park-to-Park with N2EOM at Two Rivers State Recreation Area in Nebraska. He was on the quieter side, but we were able to make the contact from high atop our mountain. Next up we got another call from Missouri, followed by a Park-to-Park with N5SLY at Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site in Texas with a 55 both ways. Next up we heard from Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Florida, Illinois, and Arkansas. Next we got a pleasant surprise (not reflected on the map, unfortunately) when WA1MAD gave us a call with a /VY2 suffix from Prince Edward Island, Canada. He was coming in strong and we talked about how beautiful it is up there (I had visited as a teenager many years ago). Finally we heard from another station in Florida and with 12 QSOs in the log, we decided to use a break in the action to call QRT and continue on our journey to Ohio. Even with 2 ops, we got 12 contacts in 12 minutes, not a bad rate when you consider that's about one every 30 seconds for the 24 contacts in all. This is definitely a park I wouldn't mind revisiting someday.

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

Gear used in this activation
  • Yaesu FT-891
  • Yaesu ATAS 120A Antenna
  • 2006 Honda Accord EX V6
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
  • HAMRS Logging App