Field Day 2001 WQ4RP
Black Balsam Knob Mountail North Carolina
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An account by Dick N4HAY
The Knightlites 2001 Field Day activity was held at Black Balsam Knob North Carolina June 24th and 25th.
Operators were Paul AA4XX, Chris KD4PBJ and Dick N4HAY. An excellent time was had by all! We were extremely lucky with the Wx. Paul traveled to site on Friday and experienced some rain during that day. Chris and I and my son Greg, travelled west together on Friday night, driving through very heavy rain en route. We wondered what was in store for us. Randy WJ4P was planning to join us but decided that the Wx would cause the event to be a washout. We missed you Randy! A number of operators had to drop out for various personal reasons which was a great pity. We missed you all.
Chris and I stopped at a rest stop just outside Winston Salem and set up an 80 meter station. We QSO'ed with AA4XX who was already on Black Balsam. The QRN was tremendous with thunder all around us and the sound of the Interstate in the background. Out antenna was hanging from the corner of a rest stop shelter at a height of 7 feet! We heard AA4XX coming through at 449. I copied 'Wx Clear' and...' on Summit..'
Having woken up early and packed our back packs we took a very steep, windy and spectacular route from Chris' house to intersect the Blue Ridge Parkway. An enjoyable breakfast at the beautiful Pisgah Inn set us up for the day. We arrived at the parking area below Black Balsam Knob at around 11:30. This mountain is one of a number of 6000 foot peaks in the Shining Rock Wilderness area at mile marker 420. What a spectacular place. Absolutely beautiful countryside.
We could spot AA4XX's DK9SQ pole atop the mountain above us. We trekked to the top with our heavy packs laden with Batteries, water and camping gear. Phew it was good to get there! Paul AA4XX was in good shape having enjoyed a peaceful night. The Wx was clear with a slight breeze blowing. Shortly my friend Paul and the kids joined us, also having lugged some heavy loads up the 20 minute climb.
We set-up our tents and stations, erecting 2 *20meter inverted Vee's for Phone and CW plus an 80 meter Inverted Vee pointing North. We were ready just in time for the start of the contest at 18:00Z.
We operated the club call WQ4RP. Paul started racking up the cw contacts on 20m and Chris talked up the 1.5 watt White Mountain phone rig on 20m phone. This was a tough proposition with all that QRM! I worked 40m CW which was frustrating since I could hear but not work most stations. I switched to 15meters which was much better.
The kids amused themselves flying Paul's kite and hiking around the area. The Wx was just great. Paul spent much time explaining amateur radio to interested hikers who were walking through the area. It is interesting how much genuine interest there really is out there for Amateur Radio. It was very pleasant talking to these folks.The classic was a guess by one curious onlooker that we were searching for bears! Well that would be a fun activity!
AA4XX in his tent
At nightfall we cooked our dinners.My non-ham friend Paul cooked some excellent chicken patty's! Much better than our freeze-dried spaghetti. Another non-ham friend of ours, Russie also paid us a visit. He had spent the day Mountain biking around the area. The QSO's kept building with points being racked up on 20 during the early evening. As the evening wore on 80 meters started to perform which was great fun. Very low noise level was a surprise on 80m. In general our antennas and equipment performed excellently. Paul ran his Sierra and I my K2. We found that S&P was the order of the day since it was almost impossible to hold a frequency. No doubt the altitude helped our signals, especially into 6 and 7 land. We all had a pretty good night's sleep although I think my son was a bit frustrated with me moving about till 1:00 in the morning. Finally the antenna fell down over the tent and I decided to call it a day. It was much too comfortable in my sleeping bag!
Sunday saw us crawling out of our tents at around 08:00 and pounding the brass again. Paul worked 40meters and I worked 20meters. Chris could be heard moving up the phone points in his tent. Paul non-ham produced the most luxurious eggs, bacon and sausage for breakfast. Thank you Paul! Now an honorary member of the Knightlites. More people became exposed to Amateur radio during Sunday morning. The best was when Paul offered to log for me on 20meters. Talk about fun.., working all those contacts without having to log! We worked field day right through to 18:00z. The pack up and drive back saw us all safely back in Raleigh after a most enjoyable weekend.
We all agreed that this was one adventure that would be well worth repeating. It was relaxing, fun and rewarding. The mix of hams and non hams also made for some very pleasant interactions.
Thanks to all those stations who were prepared to hang in there and work WQ4RP QRP
If you are interested in the Knightlites and Amateur Radio contact Dick at