Early Fall Magic at the Pemi

September 2019

It’s all magic. The perfect sunny day. The sparkling river. The trail. The QRP contacts with Manitoba and Pennsylvania.

I took a bike ride this afternoon up the old road along the Pemigewasset River. There’s a gate at the entrance to keep out cars and trucks… only horses, bicycles and walkers allowed.

I throw a water bottle over the branch of a huge pine tree and pull up a 30 foot wire. I sit down along the edge of the trail and hook up the KX3. The bands are pretty poor and I start out on 40 meters. Ron N4PGJ is calling CQ and I answer. We’ve worked a dozen times before and we chat for a few minutes.

Then I switch to 20 meters. Don VE4ESE is calling CQ from Manitoba. He’s strong to me and he gives me a 559. I tell him it’s a beautiful sunny day and I’m sitting by the river. He tells me he’s running an old TS-520 from 1975. He’s changed the finals only once since then. We sign and I take another snap shot downstream. It’s amazing.

The most beautiful place in the world. A gorgeous day, and a couple of quick contacts with the portable setup. It’s all magic. I ride back to the car with a big smile on my face.

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IARU Contest from Old Hill Village

Judy and I rode our bicycles along the Pemigewasset River at Old Hill Village this afternoon. I operated the IARU contest on 20 meters. I worked Latvia, Puerto Rico, England, Spain, Germany and four states. What a beautiful day.


We passed through a low area along the river. It was covered with debris from flooding earlier this week.


But there were only a couple of impassable sections; the rest was gorgeous. The trail was strewn with wild flowers… yarrow, buttercups, vetch and daisies to name a few.


We rode south along the trail for more than two miles and stopped under an old butternut tree. Here I tossed my 33 foot wire over a high branch.


I set up the KX3 at the edge of the trail and sat down to operate.


Making contacts was easy. Stations were strong and plentiful. Band conditions were good. I operated for about 20 minutes and made 11 QSOs. Here’s my log… I’ve replaced the ITU zone with the QTH, so you can see where I made contacts:

08 Jul-17 1951  14 DJ7UC   CW 599 599 Germany  
08 Jul-17 1954  14 K3TN    CW 599 599 MD  
08 Jul-17 1955  14 W4ML    CW 599 599 VA  
08 Jul-17 1956  14 YL4HQ   CW 599 599 Latvia  
08 Jul-17 1957  14 K4P     CW 599 599 Puerto Rico  
08 Jul-17 2002  14 GR2HQ   CW 599 599 England  
08 Jul-17 2003  14 K4AB    CW 599 599 AL  
08 Jul-17 2006  14 K2DSW   CW 599 599 IA  
08 Jul-17 2008  14 DL0CS   CW 599 599 Germany  
08 Jul-17 2010  14 EF4HQ   CW 599 599 Spain  
08 Jul-17 2013  14 W0FLS   CW 599 599 IA  


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Molokai, Hawaii 2016

Judy and I went to Hawaii for 10 days for our daughter’s wedding. The wedding was fantastic… and there was even a little ham radio. I brought the HB-1B and worked PA, Mexico, AR and AZ.  Conditions were pretty awful… but the view was the best!


The HB-1B was powered by 8 AA cells. I used the little QRP Par End Fed trail model antenna. 40 meters was just noise every time I tried. 20 meters was only barely better. I set up a few times at our daughter’s house in the hills. I only made one QSO… with N3RS, Ron in Pennsylvania. He was booming in, but he could just copy my callsign and RST. He gave me a 349. I was discouraged.

For the wedding we moved down to a cottage on Kepuhi Beach on the west end of the island. I only operated once because of the busy schedule. I made more QSOs from the beach, but still didn’t get any good signal reports. I strung the End Fed to a near by sea grape tree (I think) and ran it as a sloper from the porch of the cottage. Myna birds called out from the branches and the waves and wind provided plenty of background noise.


From here I worked Mexico, Arkansas and Arizona. Here’s my log:
16 May-16 0234  14.005 XE2MVY CW 559 599 Mexico
16 May-16 0243  14.060 K5EDM  CW 229 579 AR Greg
16 May-16 0303  14.024 K7HP   CW 449 599 AZ Hank

After the QSO with Greg K5EDM, I sent him an email to let him know I was in Hawaii. He sent back that he’d never worked Hawaii before. “Your signal was right in my noise. I copied your call sign but only because you sent it several times. ” He was running 25 watts with a dipole at 35 feet.


Operating from Hawaii with QRP is really challenging. It’s thousands of
miles to the nearest land mass, and the propagation is often fickle. The timing
and conditions have to be just right. I had the best luck late in the afternoon
Hawaii time.

While I was there I worked the EARCHI net (on Oahu) on VHF with a handie talkie.
From the west end, I could see Oahu rising above the water in the distance.
So it was fun to work them on 2 meters. I told them I use the 9:1 unun all
the time from home and thanked them for that successful project.


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Working W0RW from Knox Mountain

October 2015

Wow… what a day. Judy and I hiked to Knox Mountain. I worked Paul W0RW who was walking on Pike’s Peak. I also worked KM0U/P/QRP, Canary Islands and  Mexico. The color was amazing.


Every day is a surprise. We expect November weather to set in, but it’s sunny and  warm. It was a bit over 50F today, so we headed to the Knox Mountain cabins. We  took an old logging road. This is not the charming trail we usually take along the  brook. Loggers have changed that landscape and so we’ll avoid that route. Actually  this was beautiful.


We hiked in about a mile and a half and came to the pond and the cabins. The loggers
have not been anywhere near here.


I tossed my 30 foot wire over a cherry tree between the cabins and set up the KX3. I was a half hour late for Paul’s starting time on Pike’s Peak, but I tuned up on 14.342.5 anyway. What a thrill to hear him… I had no microphone so I set up cross-mode with a split… VFO B in CW mode up 600 Hz. Paul came right back to me  and it was a real thrill. Just imagine working Paul who had a backpack PRC319 military radio walking on the  north side of Pike’s Peak at 13,000 feet. It’s plain magic! Anyway Paul copied everything I sent and gave me a 599. His SSB signal was 55. He said the cold was “bone chilling.”


After I signed and tuned down the band. KM0U Terry was calling CQ. Little did I know that he was operating QRP portable with a KX3. We had a long chat. It was pretty cool to work QRP /P between  New Hampshire and Minnesota. He was 589 and gave me a 569.

Next I worked XE2HOE in Mexico. Mode gave me a 449 and he was 599. It was a quick exchange and then I tuned down a bit and answered EC8AUZ Pedro in the Canary Islands. We gave each other 599s  and signed. I packed up to leave. What a day… a perfect hike, great radio and fall scenery at its best.

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Afternoon at Knox Mountain Pond

This afternoon Hanz W1JSB and I hiked up to Knox Mountain. What a beautiful place. We worked Russia, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Germany and Croatia.

Along the trail, the first bridge has deteriorated significantly since we made the trip last. The timbers have sagged so badly that the planks at the leading edge are sticking several feet above the ground. We crossed cautiously. We came to the pond after hiking forty minutes or so. It’s always a welcome sight.


Hanz and I set up between the two cabins on the hill above the pond. I tossed a half wave wire for 20 meters over a high branch of the cherry tree and we shared the antenna. I brought the KX3. Hanz brought his new rig. It’s an enhanced HB-1B in a waterproof Pelican case. It’s really gorgeous.


Hanz has added a large display, an amplified speaker, internal battery, charger, power monitor, and a touch keyer to the HB-1B. It’s beautiful and really works just as well.
























Hanz took the first turn with the antenna. He worked Russia, Poland, Georgia, and South Carolina. We were working the Romanian DX Contest.


Here’s my log:

30 Aug-14 1941 14.025 HG8C CW 599 599 Hungary
30 Aug-14 1946 14.014 R3ZV CW 599 599 Russia
30 Aug-14 1953 14.031 W4IX CW 599 599 SC
30 Aug-14 1957 14.011 I3FIY CW 599 599 Italy
30 Aug-14 2003 14.027 YR9F CW 599 599 Romania
30 Aug-14 2029 14.026 DJ2QV CW 599 599 Germany
30 Aug-14 2032 14.018 N4AF CW 599 599 NC
30 Aug-14 2033 14.014 W4BQF CW 599 599 GA
30 Aug-14 2035 14.019 9A5Y CW 599 599 Croatia

We passed the antenna back and forth for an hour or so.
























We packed up after a perfect afternoon and headed down the trail alongside the brook. Hanz took one last picture of the afternoon sun shimmering in a pool in the rocks.


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NJ QRP Skeeter Hunt in Hill Village

August 2013

It was a perfect afternoon for the NJ QRP Club Skeeter Hunt. I operated for an hour in Old Hill Village and made 13 contacts. Five QSOs were with fellow QRP operators. The rest were with DX stations from Finland, Germany, Romania, the Ukraine, Croatia and Italy.


This place has been abandoned since the 1940’s to make room for a flood control area. It was once a village. As I ride the bicycle along this road, I am transported back to the 1930’s. It has an old world feeling.


I turn east into a field that used to be the old elementary school grounds. One can almost hear the sounds of children playing from those years… or is it the crickets?

Up the slope several hundred yards is an ancient maple tree. This old tree certainly holds many secrets.


I throw my line over a high branch and pull up 33 feet of wire. I sit in the grass below with the KX3 and a notebook for logging. At first I go to 20 meters and work AB9CA and N0SS. But I don’t hear the QRP
gang, and I start working the European stations in the WAE contest. I work both 15 and 20 meters. I stop by 40 meters and work K3RLL in the QRP sprint. Then I go back to 20 meters and log NK9G and WB4MNK. But I don’t hear many of the skeeter stations so I go back to the WAE.
Here is my log:

11 Aug-13 1822 14.060 AB9CA CW 559 559 AL 125
11 Aug-13 1825 14.060 N0SS CW 559 559 MO 20
11 Aug-13 1832 21.046 9A1AA CW 599 599 Croatia
11 Aug-13 1837 21.034 IR2C CW 599 599 Italy
11 Aug-13 1840 21.012 UU7J CW 599 599 Ukraine
11 Aug-13 1842 10.120 W3LN CW 549 579 PA ABE
11 Aug-13 1855 7.040 K3RLL CW 559 579 PA 25
11 Aug-13 1858 14.061 NK9G CW 559 559 WI 18
11 Aug-13 1900 14.060 WB4MNK CW 559 559 FL 95
11 Aug-13 1902 14.041 OH2XX CW 599 599 Finland
11 Aug-13 1903 14.042 DD2ML CW 599 599 Germany
11 Aug-13 1908 21.050 DJ8EW CW 599 599 Germany
11 Aug-13 1909 21.038 YP9W CW 599 599 Romania

After less than one hour, I pack up and head back down to the road for a bike ride.


I ride along the Pemigewasset River surrounded by the greenest green imaginable. The stillness of the afternoon is punctuated only by the sound of birds and crickets. Is there a nicer place in all the world?

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Early Hike to Old Hill Village

Today I hiked in Old Hill Village on the west side of the Pemigewasset River. I worked Macedonia, Italy and W0RW pedestrian mobile in Colorado. This was a fantastic outing.


Coming down the hill alongside Needle Shop Brook, there was still snow and ice. But once in the old village, the road was dry. This is the most amazing spot with 3500 acres of fields and trees which form a flood control reserve for the Franklin Falls Dam. After walking 1/2 mile north I turned east through a field toward the river.


Imagine having a place like this… all to yourself… to roam, to breathe clean air, to enjoy nature… and to play radio.


I setup at the edge of the field, not 60 feet from the river. I tossed a line over a pine branch and sat down in the warm sun. I hooked up the HB-1B with 4 watts on 20 meters to a half-wave wire rising straight from the backpack to the branch overhead.

At the bottom of the band I heard Jane Z320G from Macedonia calling CQ. I answered and we exchanged quick 599s. This was generous because I had to send my call several times before he copied. There was strong QSB. Next I went up the band and heard Pietro IZ2EWR finishing another QSO. The Italian station was very strong and well worth waiting for. Pietro gave me a 579 and sent, “UR QRP FB.”

Before calling it quits, I dialed up to the QRP frequency, 14.060. What a nice surprise to hear Paul W0RW calling CQ. Paul in Colorado, was pedestrian mobile. We were both weak to each other, but were able to complete a contact. Paul gave me a 339 and he was 449.


With cool temperatures in the mid-30s and a wind gusting to 15 MPH, it was a bit nippy in the shade. But in the warm sun, surrounded by blue sky and some trees for a wind-break, it was perfect. This is a place I love to ride my bike in the warmer weather. I’ll be back many times in the glorious weeks ahead.

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QSO from Rice Patch Beach

This afternoon I borrowed Uncle Don’s bicycle and rode a mile or so east from my daughter’s house. I stopped along Rice Patch Beach and worked Newport Beach, CA.


The little strip of beach is only 5 or 6 feet wide… just enough room to sit down under a Kiawe tree. I threw a 33 foot wire over the tallest branch. The wind wanted to tangle the lines, but it went together without a problem. As soon as I hooked everything up, I heard Earle, AB6WL calling CQ. He had a very strong signal and came right back to me.


“Very nice to meet you on Molokai. Hope UR having a good time,” Earle sent. I told him the wind was nearly 35 MPH and the waves were lapping at my feet! I was afraid the water would wash over the rig any minute.


Earle gave me a 559. He was certainly 599. What fun to make a quick contact from along the roadside. The forecast for New Hampshire is calling for 12 to 16 inches of snow! We’re leaving here in four days. (sad)

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Fishpond Cottage

Location is everything! Today we are at the Fishpond Cottage on the south shore of Molokai, Hawaii. No wind. No steep surrounding mountains. I made contacts easily… Alberta, Canada and Japan.


The fishpond is an ancient rock enclosure used for trapping fish. The fish enter at high tide and are trapped as the tide goes out.


I set up under a kiawe tree at the edge of the fishpond. I used a half wave wire as a vertical. As soon as I turned on the rig I heard VE6QX calling CQ on 20 meters. Dwayne gave me a 549 from Red Deer, Alberta and sent “UR SOLID JIM.” We chatted for a minute and the band changed. I was so glad to make a contact easily. I was a bit discouraged after the difficulties making QSOs at Yamashita Bay.

I tuned up the band, and just as quickly heard Shin, JA1NUT calling CQ. He answered right away and also gave me a 549. We chatted for 15 minutes. Shin asked about the equipment and the antenna, then sent, “UR QRP doing a great job.”

Yesterday, we hiked in a remote rain forest and ended up at Pelekunu, a high mountain peak with waterfalls and views toward the north shore. The place is known to few, but one of Catherine’s friends used to be a forest ranger and worked in the remote area every day for several years. Tyson was a perfect guide. What a treat!


I had never seen a rain forest. I can’t begin to describe the vegetation, but everything was covered with moss and droplets of water fell from every plant. It was like visiting a different planet. We walked along an 8-inch board walkway… not just to preserve the environment but also to keep us from sinking into the soft, muddy ground. A few times we lost balance and went nearly up to our knees in muck. Overhead branches provided frequent opportunities for head banging.

At the top we peered out from a sheer cliff over several thousand feet of forest below. I stayed back from the edge!


Merry Christmas to you all. Jim

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More from Yamashita Bay

Today we left Yamashita Bay. I operated for 4  different days from here. I made contacts every day, but it wasn’t easy. My throw-it-up antenna that works so well in New Hampshire doesn’t cut it. Five watts may not cut it either. At home I make several contacts in 5 or 10 minutes. Here it takes 20 minutes or so to make just one. I’ll get a chance to try in a different area tomorrow. We are going to the Fishpond Cottage on the south shore.


I thought being right on the salt water would make everything really easy. But this place is REALLY isolated. I know being surrounded by steep hillsides isn’t helping either. So far all the contacts except for one were made with a horizontal half-wave wire. Only one was made with a vertical. If I come again I’ll ship an 88 foot dipole and a tuner ahead of time. Here’s my log to date:

14 Dec-12 2259 14.030 KB6VSE CW 449 599 CA
15 Dec-12 0032 14.012 7L1WII CW 559 579 Japan
16 Dec-12 0307 14.017 KH6MB CW 559 559 Hawaii
16 Dec-12 1905 14.013 KN7T CW 559 599 WA
17 Dec-12 0114 14.006 W7SW CW 599 599 AZ
17 Dec-12 1955 14.026 AH6V CW 539 579 HI
18 Dec-12 0010 14.025 N3MD CW 559 599 CA
20 Dec-12 0100 14.012 N6VR CW 559 599 AZ

Here’s a picture from the shore:


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