I finally was able to do something I had been looking forward to for a while. I have started doing Parks On the Air activations! Both times, I just operated with my base rig sitting in my truck running into a Hamstick. Not the best setup in the world. I was able to get 13 contacts at Bartram, and 7 at Oconee. Not great; both fell short the 44 required for WWFF-KFF program, and Oconee feel short of the 10 required by POTA.

I guess I should clarify here. Parks on the Air is an American parks program. WWFF-KFF is the American wing of World Wide Flora and Fauna in Amateur Radio. Both have different procedures, but the same basic mission. To encourage amater radio operations in public parks. The programs grew in popularity following the ARRL’s National Parks on the Air program in 2016.

Besides trails, this is about the only infrastructure in the area. And even this is new!

Bartram Forest is just south of my hometown of Milledgeville, Georgia. It’s by far the closest entity to me and I can get there in less than 30 minutes from my home on the other side of the county. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trails, so I work from my truck in the parking lot. At over 1,300 acres, it provides an area for hunting, running, cycling, and fishing in central Georgia.

I did the first activation there on May 8th. As I mentioned earlier I made 13 contacts, all on 20 meters. The most common state contacted was Michigan. Not bad for an extremely temperamental (is that a good way to describe it?) antenna.

The next day, I went to Oconee EMA in White Sands. But, that implies that it is actually near something. At 7,400 acres, it really is an entity unto itself. My operating location is roughly half way between Eatonton and Sparta, Georgia. The WMA is surrounding the southern portion of Lake Oconee, which forms half of “Georgia’s Lake Country.” The lake itself is owned by Georgia Power, who operates Lawrence Shoals Recreation Area adjacent to the WMA. More importantly, it  is also the location of the Rock Hawk Effigy, which is where I operated. I was familiar with the area, as I spent quite a few trips camping at Lawrence Shoals in my younger days.

This trip, wasn’t quite as successful. But I still had fun and made 7 contacts, including some POTA royalty that is FAR beyond me on the leaderboard. The rock hawk itself is full of history. While I didn’t make the hike to the observation tower on this trip, I did have a picture from a previous (sans-radio) excursion.

My next trip I’m going to be sure to use my 40-10m end fed antenna. I didn’t want to exert the effort to get it in a tree on these trips. I also still need to finish putting together my launcher, which may have played a roll in my decision. That, along with timing (Oconee WMA was in the morning), and pre-notification on social media should increase the numbers.

In all, 20 contacts, 13 states, and a ton of fun.  Not bad for a couple of impulse decisions to activate all-time new parks.

 

States contacted during the two activations

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