We have been looking for an opportunity to activate a SOTA summit in our home state of Indiana. Joyce/K0JJW and I were both born there and misspent our youth there. Of course, you might be thinking “there are SOTA summits in Indiana?” Yes, there are three. Two of them are on public land, one is on private land and apparently inaccessible. These three summits are in the southern part of the state, not too far from the hills of Kentucky.
We were headed south towards the Smoky Mountains and passing through southern Indiana and decided to activate Jackson County HP (W9/IN-002). First, we camped at one of Indiana’s best state parks: Brown County State Park, about an hour away from IN-002. The next day we headed to the Jackson-Washington State Forest, where the summit is located. The Indiana Dept of Natural Resources supplies this trail map. As you’ll see, there are a number of trails that can take you to IN-002, but we chose the most direct route, starting at Knob Lake.
There is a State Forest campground around Knob Lake, so that would be another option for camping out.
We headed up a gated road that was labeled “Trails 2 and 3”. This road narrowed into a trail and we took a left turn at the Trail 2 sign. This is slightly tricky because Trail 2 goes off to the left and it continues on straight. The “left” Trail 2 ascends up to IN-002, for a total elevation gain of 465 feet and a distance of 0.7 miles. Go Left.
Once on top, we unpacked our recently purchased Icom IC-705 transceiver. This seemed like a good choice for this activation. While we were sure to try good old 2m FM, there was a good chance that we would get skunked on VHF at this rural and not-too-high summit. Sure enough, 2m FM was silent, even using the mighty 3-element Yagi antenna.
Next, we set up the end-fed halfwave for 20 meters, hoisted by the popular extendable fishing pole. OK, I admit that I had to do some fiddling around with the antenna to get the SWR to behave. Somehow, the test run at the campsite the day before was not sufficient. The SWR was way too high for the “I like 50 ohms” Icom, so some adjustments were required. After an unreasonable amount of fiddling, we put out an SSB signal on 20 meters that seemed good.
The band conditions were not great but they were not terrible. Calling CQ did not seem to work very well, so we tuned around and worked a number of Parks On The Air (POTA) stations to get our 4 QSOs. At that point, we declared victory and headed back down the hill.
This summit was easy to access and an easy hike. If you are in the area and want to knock out a Hoosier SOTA activation, this one is a great choice.
73 Bob K0NR