Easter weekend with the family in Pennsylvania. Nice to be back in the old stomping grounds. Eastern PA is where I spent most of my teen years and all of my adult life until the summer of 2013 when the family and I moved to the mountains of Virginia.

Just like the old American Express ads, when it comes to a portable rig, I “Don’t leave home without it…”

This time, I opted to bring the Elecraft K2 for its first official outing instead of the Yaesu FT817. And although the K2 is a bit bulkier than the 817, the receiver performance and 10 watt+ capability of the K2 would definitely help during the unfavorable band conditions today. The K2 also seems to weigh about the same or less than the 817, so I stuffed it in the pack, and off I went.

The summit (W3/PO-023) was very easy to reach since there was a fire road which led right to it. And this was handy since I only had a few hours to burn before I would turn my attention to family for the rest of the weekend. I was also glad to have cell service up there so that I could check the Sotawatch2 website to make sure that I was being spotted on the Sotawatch site.

SOTA Elecraft K2

Fred Knauf Memorial at the summit

When I reached the summit, I found a very nice memorial for WWII Lieutenant Fred Knopf who’s single seat P-36 fighter plane went down for unknown reasons on this mountain. This memorial was built near the crash site and is maintained by the Nesquehoning, PA VFW. Unfortunately, Freds remains were never found.

Getting there a little after sunrise was great, but the weather conditions were terrible. Mid 30’s and rain/snow showers were uninviting, as were the 30+ mph wind gusts, but the show must go on, so I stretched the end fed antenna between 2 trees directly over top of the memorial and called out on 40 meters CW.

Since most activations in the states start to happen after 11am Eastern, I was pretty early, so I was not getting much response. Only made 3 contacts on 40.

Moving to the upper bands was simple with the K2 auto tuner doing a great job. I operated 30, 20, and 17 meters before the cold set in and I was ready to call it quits.

22 QSO’s in an hour – not too bad for a cold morning on the mountain. It was peacefull and quiet up there on the summit and was glad to have found such a nice memorial for Fred.

Summits on the Air K2

A P-36 Fighter like the one that crashed near the summit…

19 of the QSO’s were stateside, from Florida to Arizona, and also managed to work Finland, Switzerland, and Austria during this SOTA activation, so it was definitely a worthwhile trip this morning.

The K2 did an amazing job of pulling out extremely weak signals during marginal conditions with its extremely low noise floor and great reciever action which added up to a great time on the mountain. It also left me anxiously wanting to do my next summit. Probably in Virginia, when I get home, but definitely soon.

I also got to learn a little bit of Nesquehoning history through Fred’s memorial near the site of his untimely and unfortunate death.

Now that the weather here in the East is about to break, get your radio out and work some SOTA summits if you haven’t already 😉 Maybe you’ll get lucky enough to find a historical spot like this.