The theme for this year’s QRP To The Field (QRPTTF) day was “Happy Trails.” I decided to operate from the Latah Trail, a rails-to-trail path I ride on a regular basis.
The 12-mile trail runs east-west between Moscow, Idaho and Pullman, Washington, connecting near the Moscow city limit to the Bill Chipman Trail, which runs 12 miles into Pullman. It’s a great ride with many scenic views along the way. Heading east from Moscow the trail runs across the Palouse until it rises to a “summit” that overlooks the countryside. This is the spot I selected for my Happy Trails operation for QRPTTF 2013.
This was my first QRPTTF and I’d been scouting for a good location a few weeks prior. The Latah Trail was perfect as it offered a bench (see photos below) as well as a small stand of tall pines for me to throw a antenna wire into.
At around 0730 local time I drove my car and bike from Moscow down to Troy, Idaho where the trail ends. From there I loaded my trusty Ortlieb bike bags with my gear and rode the 2.4 miles up the hill on the trail to the summit.
High winds were forecast for the day so I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was there was no precipitation in the forecast. Good news since the spot I chose had no protection from the elements.
Here are two shots from my ride up the hill.
The event began at 0800 local time so I was eager to reach the top and get set up. Having recently purchased an Elecraft KX3 I was excited to see it perform on the trail. The site I chose has a nice bench and lots of tall trees, but it one other feature I did not experience during my earlier visit, which was in much cooler wx: mosquitos and gnats! They immediately swarmed as I started my set up. I ignored them as best I could. Here is a shot of the center point of my dipole in a nearby pine tree (unfortunately not one of the taller trees near the bench).
Once I got the dipole in place it only took a few more minutes to make the KX3 operational.
That’s an 8-pack of AA rechargeable batteries velcro’d atop the KX3.
I went right to work amidst the bugs and started making contacts, which included
- NA6MG (California) at SOTA W6/CTT14
- NM5TW (New Mexico) at SOTA W5/SE026
- WS0TA AT SOTA W5N/PW022
- WA0ITP (IOWA)
- NE1SJ (Massachusetts) at SOTA W1/CRT13
- K7SO (New Mexico) at SOTA W5N/PWT22
- KU6J (California) at SOTA W6/NS160
I also briefly worked HP0/KN5L/MM. Not sure exactly where he was, but it may have been a Maritime Mobile near Panama.
There actually was no wind for the first few hours, but at around 1100 local time, 15-20 PH gusts kicked up. Great for me as it drove off the gnats and mosquitos!
For me, 20 meters was the only viable band. Not much activity elsewhere. All in all I had a great time and really appreciated the KX3’s ability to dig weak signals out of the ether.
I worked QRPTTF for about 3 hours and enjoyed every minute. Looking forward to QRPTTF 2014 and more trail friendly radio.