Sunday, November 20, 2005

High Knob, PA Hike

I had a three day weekend and therefore took advantage of the unseasonably warm (mid-50's) and sunny skies to visit a fire tower lookout in the north Poconos of Pennsylvania. The drive was about 65 miles and took about 2 hrs the first time. It was a beautiful day and I arrived about 3 pm. The access road was gated so I parked and set off with my daypack of my the K1 and my multiband dipole, extra windproof clothes, etc.

It was a beautiful fall afternoon for the hike into the tower site. I could see that there were some commercial communication systems also at the site as evidenced by the at least 3 tall towers. I arrived about 35 mins later and the view was good in nearly 360-degrees but there were a number of commercial installations and there gated towers and service buildings. The fire tower itself was small incomparison at only about 25' tall.

I set up on the grass next to a fenced area, threw a rock and line through one of the tower legs, pulled one end of the dipole up and, using the same rock and line over a telephone pole line for the other end. In all, I estimate the dipole at 20' to 25' above ground. I had much more coax then I needed. I set up the K1, batteries, pulled on the extra windpants and sat down to call CQ. Where's my logbook? Oh, great! I left it home! The best I could do was write on the back of a 3 x 5 card! On my first CQ I got a W8 from Illinois but now my pen won't write because it's too cold! The ink won't flow! Great!

The temp was now into the 30's as the sun was setting. The sunset was beautiful and very colorful but I learned that I need to bring a pencil because ink doesn 't flow at near freezing temps! Oh well....experience is a powerful teacher. Now I was copying in my head and trying to remember calls and names....so far so good. Time out to stretch, warm up a bit, try to get my hands warm again. The polypro gloves are not adequate to be effective especially if there is any wind blowing. My fingers were really cold and that was impacting my cw keying abilities. I need to find some additional gloves that won't impact my keying requirements.

The sunset was great and I stayed until about a half-hour after it set. The temp was plummeting and the wind still at 15 mph or so but really getting to my cold hands. Although I was looking forward to a night hike out, I decided to pack up early and walk out when there was still some light. A half-hour later I was on the road out and back to the pickup where the temp was reading about 28-degrees. No wonder I was cold. It was probably 25 or so on the top!

Anyway it was a beautiful afternoon and another fun area to scout and consider as a future operating site or campover site.

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