On the way back towards Washington, DC from Indiana, I passed again through Ohio, this time to the south of the outbound route. I had targeted two SOTA peaks near Ashland, Ohio: W8O/NE-001 (Noblet Benchmark) and W8O/NE-003 (the Ashland County High Point). I did get to both sites, but only activated the former one. Both are discussed, below.
Noblet Benchmark coincides exactly with Apple Hill Orchards, and is an ideal stop for a cross country drive. There is a large parking lot and a store on the east side of the street, and it looks like they have all sorts of products that would make this a great site to reprovision on the drive through. Unfortunately, on the day I visited, the store closed at 5 pm, and I arrived a bit later in the evening.
There is a bench near the road and just to the side of the parking lot entrance, and I decided to work from there. I set up the P-loop antenna and worked five contacts on 30m and 40m. I was a little surprised not to hear anything on 20m that evening, so perhaps propagation was off.
There is a large radio mast behind the store, but I experienced no radio interference. I had no T-mobile cell phone coverage driving into the area for a considerable distance. Once I got to the site, I had poor reception with slow data (mostly edge, some 2G) about ten percent of the time, but enough to check the sotawatch site once. If you need to self-spot from this site, the SMS gateway would be a surer bet.
Ashland County Highpoint
As mentioned, it was getting late when I arrive at the orchards, and contacts did not come quickly. By the time I had driven to the vicinity of the Ashland County Highpoint, it was around 9 pm local time, and dark. The summit itself is just west route 511, which runs north-to-south through the area. I cruised along that route looking for a good point to activate, but was not keen on setting up at the side of the road.
In scoping out the area on aerial maps in advance, I had considered setting up in the cemetery located at 40.749627N, 82.315732W. I think this is still within the activation zone, but had a hard time telling from what I had to work with in terms of topo maps. I did drive up to the small, dark, unlit cemetery, and while there is no gate impeding access, there is a sign outside it that says no entry after 8 pm. I will say that it was the sign that kept me out, but the town’s name, Widowville, also may have put me off.
I’m not averse to operating from a cemetery if I can do so unobtrusively, particularly in a large one with some foliage, but this was a small town cemetery, and even in daylight, setting up in this one would have looked odd and probably attracted unwanted attention. I think that if I were to be in the area again, I would just arrive earlier in the day and set up a self-supporting antenna at the side of the road along a farm property on route 511.
Up A River…
Not really related to the SOTA activation, but mentioned because it was fun, I overnighted at a hotel in Ashland and the next morning drove south about 15 miles and rented a canoe at Mohican Adventures. Their canoe livery offers pickup either 7 or 15 miles downstream. I went for the 7 mile route, which took about two hours with occasional paddling. There are campsites all along the course of the river and a road runs near the river at points, but it was still rustic and relaxing. If I pass through again (maybe to nab the Ashland County HP), I’ll try to set aside enough time for the 15 mile trip.