POTA Activation #9 - George Washington Memorial Parkway / Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail (VA) (4/17/2022)

The weekend of April 16-17, 2022 was the second Support Your Parks event for 2022. On Sunday the 17th I had some time to get over to the George Washington Memorial Parkway for an activation. I have been doing a bit of research to find interesting parks to activate near my QTH and I found that there are a lot of opportunities to activate multiple parks simultaneously.

Actually, I've already done it without knowing it, but since I only submitted the logs for the single park, those earlier ones didn't count. In addition to the parks that you think of when you think of a park, there are also a lot of National Historic Trails that go through those parks. One of particular note is the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. It isn't a trail you can walk on, as it is on the water! A good part of the Chesapeake Bay is covered by the CJSCNHT including the tidal Potomac River, which runs through the DC area. In order for a National Historic Trail to be activated, you must activate within 100 feet of the trail. Conveniently, the George Washington Memorial Parkway has several park areas that are right on the water.

For today's activation I was initially planning on going back to Riverside Park inside the GW Parkway, but all the parking spots were taken as were all the picnic tables in good operating positions. I kept on driving and remembered that there was a Collingwood Picnic Area that I had driven past hundreds of times, but never explored. Today was the day.

There were still a few parking spots left and a few open picnic tables with a great view of the waterfront. I grabbed one near a beautiful tall tree and decided to pull out the MFJ 1984 MP so that I could hop between bands more easily and get a bit more time on the air with it. I used my arborist throw line kit and after a couple attempts was able to get my line over a high branch and then pulled the antenna up and over in a sharply inverted-v setup. I tied the line off to another picnic table that had a broken (and unusable) seat with a couple of half hitches and conveniently the angle was steep enough that I didn't have to worry about anyone walking into the lines. A couple was enjoying the day listening to smooth jazz by the water, but with my headphones I was able to not be bothered by it. I just enjoyed the views across the Potomac and into Maryland.

I hooked up the antenna to my Icom IC-705 and when I turned it on it was on 20m, so I figured I'd start there. Unfortunately, even though the band was awash in POTA activators and other activity, I only managed to make one contact on the band with a station in Arkansas. He gave me a 57 signal report, so clearly I was getting out to Arkansas, but after several minutes of shouting into the void, I decided to seek refuge on 40m.

After a slow start, the contacts started coming in. Initially I seemed to have a pipeline into NJ, getting 3 contacts from there in a row. Then came Ohio, New York, Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia. North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. All in all I had a good run and as things started to slow down, I decided to get in a bit of hunting. After I worked the spots on 40 that could hear me I remembered my contacts on the higher bands down in Florida and decided to use that easy frequency agility of the end-fed halfwave teamed with the antenna tuner and give 17m a try.

I called CQ and all was quiet for a bit, but then I got a call back from F4ILH in France who had a great 57 signal into the park and gave me a respectable 52 for my 10 W into a wire from across the pond. I had a big dumb grin after getting transatlantic dx on my low-power setup once again and gave Jean Baptiste a merci beaucoup for the contact and a warm 73. That would be my only contact on 17m. Looking at the spots I saw there was some activity on 15m, so I went in and hunted WX5KR in Texas and got another Park to Park in the logs. I gave 12m and 10m a try, but didn't get any takers, although I did hear some interesting dx on 10m.

I looked at the clock and saw that it had been about 45 minutes since I had hopped off 40m and decided I would give it another go before wrapping up the activation. After a quick self spot I got a call from Richmond, VA with the great call sign of K9RVA. North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, Michigan, Maryland, Arkansas, New Jersey, New York, and Ontario, Canada followed. I got a Park to Park call by frequent activator W3LOU and thanked him for the numerous times I've had the pleasure of hunting him and gave thanks for him hunting me. After one last call from Ontario, I decided to call it an activation with 45 entries in the log.

This was definitely a fun one, and I'm glad I got to explore a new area of one of my favorite parks nearby. It was also fun getting my first twofer on the books. There are a lot of opportunities near me for multiple simultaneous parks -- I even found one that may be 4 or 5 parks, depending on park boundaries. I can't wait to keep exploring and playing radio outside.

Gear used in this activation
  • Icom IC-705
  • MFJ 1984 MP
  • LDG Z100 Plus
  • RigExpert Stick Pro Antenna Analyzer
  • Icom LC-192
  • Jackery Explorer 500
  • Sony Headphones
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Lite Tablet
  • Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard
  • Rite in the Rain Notebook
  • Zebra DelGuard Mechanical Pencil