The Good Life State

NPOTA Entity: Scott’s Bluff National Monument MN66

SOTA summit: Scott’s Bluff, W0N/PH-005

Activation Date: July 27, 2017

Portable operation: Yes

Radio: Elecraft KX2 operating at 10 watts

Antenna: LNR End Fed

Bands used: 20m 

Furthest QSO: AC1Z, New England

Hike in: Few 100 yards and 100 feet elevation

Solo operation: No, with Guy N7UN

Recommend: Yes

ATT Coverage: Fine

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2017

Metro Denver recedes in the rear view mirror along with our momentary  glimpse of the Rockies. The area is typically mid west with flat views and fields that disappear into the horizon. We cross the state line heading due north on a road that is empty except for a few eighteen wheelers, dually trucks and travelers like us. The monotony is broken by punctured land, ribbons of rock nudged up by nature whose confidence builds and pushes harder further along.

It’s great to witness the wonder and variety of my adopted home.


This is partly an unabashed association bagging trip as Nebraska is a new one for us both but in many respects we are more interested in the larger story that this area is inexorably link to, one of history’s great human migration stories, the settlement of The West.

Having driven thousands upon thousands of miles throughout The West over the last two years I’m in constant awe of its size, beauty, remoteness and unforgiving nature. To think that half a million people over a couple of decades pushed carts, walked or had the luxury of a covered wagon and wandered west over fifteen hundred miles of unknown terrain is simply mind boggling. Much of this has shaped who Americans are both in reality and myth.

Luxury in its day!

We wander around the NPS exhibition on Scott’s Bluff. Whether you are on the Mormon Trail, the Oregon Trail or the California Trail, Scott’s Bluff is a major milestone and about 600 miles west from your start in Kansas city.


NPS brochures on the trails west

Like a kid I still get a kick out of getting a park stamp.

National Park “Passport” Stamps….its great to still be a kid!

It’s hot, humid and thunder clouds hang menacingly over Gering just to our east. It’s a very short walk to our activation point. The curious aren’t bashful and I can hear Guy tell the story of ham radio and SOTA to visitors. As old school or geeky as classic radio may seem most seem quite impressed and some even amazed that we can chit chat with others thousands of miles away with our flimsy wire and a black box far smaller than an iPad.

Thunder clouds over Gering, Nebraska

The thunder clouds show up as loud static crashes in the headphones. Its hard to hear our chasers and sometimes the noise startles.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 6.12.40 PM
Drive to the Summit Parking and walk to the summit (red tear drop)

A great start to the trip and we heard off in our rental just as the skies open and dump rain onto the last of the visitors at Scotts Bluff.



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