During 2016, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is conducting its National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) event, in which Amateur Radio operators set up their equipment in units of the National Park Service (NPS) to make contact with other Amateurs around the world. Since the beginning of the year, the event has been extremely popular, with over 13,000 activations from 450 different different units of the NPS and over 700,000 individual two-way contacts. As I’ve reported in other posts, I’ve made contact with 278 different parks, operated multiple times from six parks in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and plan to activate additional parks in the Midwest before the end of the year.
One of the surprises of this event has been the popularity of the National Scenic Trails. I’ve operated from two, the North Country National Scenic Trail and the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. These operations are a bit more challenging, since the event rules require all equipment to be hand carried to the operating location, rather than operating from a vehicle. I would have expected this restriction to make the scenic trails less popular, but the reality has been quite different. In fact, two scenic trails are in the top ten of parks activated. The North Country Trail has seen 249 activations with 9932 individual contacts, and the Appalachian Trail has had 239 activations with a total of 6700 contacts.
The Appalachian Trail is probably the most famous of the nation’s National Scenic Trails. It runs 2130 miles from Georgia to Maine. I’ve made a number of contacts with stations on the trail. Some of them were with small stations carried during long multiple day hikes. Others were located closer to civilization,
Shown here is one of those in the latter category (as judged by the availability of pizza rather than dehydrated meals) by Emily, KB3VVE, Keith, KB3FVN, and Tim, W3ATB, operating on a section of the trail in Pennsylvania.
Seventy-five years ago, this day’s issue of Life Magazine, October 13, 1941, carried a feature on the Appalachian Trail. The photo at the top of this post, a cabin along the trail at Shenandoah National Park, is from that article. The photo at the right shows those same hikers approaching the cabin after an October snowstorm. According to the article, the trail was completed in 1937. As of 1941, only four persons had hiked the entire trail, but none of them had done so in a single uninterrupted session. In contrast, thousands of hikers now hike the entire length of the trail each year.