Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hibernation is OVER!

Although winter is still in full swing this grizzly bear has decided to awaken from his den.  I have been off the mountains for the past few months.  Work as always has been keeping me busy.  Working with K9 Kimber is great, but it does consume a great deal of time.  

I also had a procedure completed on my hand to correct some issues associated with Dupuytren's contracture.  

You can see my before and after pictures above.  The procedure has helped to regain some use in my left hand.  I was off work for a while and I had planned on working on my CW skills.  With the discomfort in my hand during the recovery the last thing I wanted to do was CW.  I need to get back to CW practice.

Today I decided to venture out and head to Greentop Mountain.  Greentop is one of the summits closest to the house, and requires no hiking to speak of.  I trained with Kimber all day yesterday so I decided she should sit this one out.  As you can see she was enjoying the fireplace anyway!

The roads up to Greentop were in excellent shape, and the summit only had some light snow.  The view up top today was amazing.  I love the Smokies in the winter!

 Above is a view of Mt. Leconte.

I was having fun with the towers throughout my activation today.  Every so often bits of snow and ice would fall and impact the area all around me.  I was hit by several large chunks.  The pieces were soft so injury was not a concern.  

 I had a new piece of gear today, one of my Christmas presents.  Its a small stool made by Walkstool.  It is a small lightweight stool.  So far I like it.  Its light enough and comfortable enough to haul up to some of the easier summits.  This version is a bit on the tall side with the legs completely extended.  I might have to do a little adjusting.  All in all it is a pretty cool piece of gear.

It was great to get back up into the mountains, and get back in touch with some of my favorite chasers.  I will be working the next seven days, but I hope to get in an activation or two after that. See everyone again soon!

73's And Keep Climbing!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Nikon D5300

 One of my first obsessions after high school was photography.  Shortly after basic training I purchased a pretty nice film camera, and I took pictures everywhere.  I have always been fascinated by the artistry of great photography.  I especially enjoy nature photography, go figure.

So I think its natural to add photography into my SOTA outings.  Kendall was nice enough to approve the funding for our new camera, a Nikon D5300.  Here are the tech specs on this nice little piece of hardware.

Effective Pixels

24.2 million

Sensor Size

23.5 mm
 x 15.6 mm

Image Sensor Format


Storage Media


Top Continuous Shooting Speed at full resolution

5 frames per second

ISO Sensitivity

ISO 100 -
Hi-1 (ISO 25,600)


Full HD 1,920x1,080 / 60 fps
Full HD 1,920x1,080 / 50 fps
Full HD 1,920x1,080 / 30 fps
Full HD 1,920x1,080 / 25 fps
Full HD 1,920x1,080 / 24 fps
HD 1,280x720 / 60 fps
HD 1,280x720 / 50 fps
VGA 640x424 / 30 fps
VGA 640x424 / 25 fps

Monitor Size

3.2 in. diagonal

Monitor Type

Wide Viewing Angle
Vari-angle TFT-LCD

Battery / Batteries

One EN-EL14a Rechargeable Li-ion Battery or EN-EL14 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery

Approx. Dimensions (Width x Height x Depth)

4.92 in.
 (125 mm)
 x 3.9 in.
(98.0 mm)
 x 3.0 in.

Approx. Weight

16.9 oz.
 (480 g)

So far I have taken quite a few images, with more to follow.   


Monday, September 15, 2014

Mt Kephart 2014

It has been a busy few weeks.  Work, my lovely wife, and Kimber have been keeping me off the trail, and attending to my regular duties.  Today I took some time to myself and headed to Newfound Gap, and Mt Kephart.  This is my second time to the summit of Kephart.  I enjoy this trail.  It is simple, straight forward, and at a little over 6 miles round trip a very enjoyable hike.

Today I brought along a new piece of gear.  A NEW CAMERA!  I have always loved photography, and I have been wanting a nice DSLR for my frequent excursions.  After Kendall's approval we purchased a Nikon D5300.

I am really liking this camera.  The sensor is excellent.  It will shoot 1080p video, and with 24 megapixel I have the opportunity to build a real nice portfolio.

Soon I hope to try my hand at some video blogging.  SOTA TV anyone?

Today Mt. Kephart treated me to some comfortable temps, and overcast skies.  In the three miles to the summit I gained 1237 ft elevation.  Along the way I took some interesting photos.

This tree stands above a trail marker.  I remember it from last time, and in the misty fog I thought it made a good subject.

The trail today was littered with dew laden webs.  This guy here was blowing in the wind, and it reminded me of the T-10C parachutes that saved my life over several drop zones.  

This photo here is on of my first attempts with Lightroom editing software.  It is fun, so expect more HDR pictures in the future.

 Some magic mushrooms anyone?

Turn right here.  On my first assent of Kephart I blew right by this sign and had to backtrack 3/4 of a mile.

 This part of the trail is after the turn toward the Jump Off.  Very pretty.

I stumbled across this little guy, and almost jumped back 20 feet.  my presence didn't seem to bother him though.  He continued to chow down as I passed.  I expect he is acclimatized to the hordes of hikers along this trail.

It was a great activation.  I was worried the bands would be a bit harsh considering the recent flare activity, but the bands were hopping.  I listened for a few minutes on 15m, but my attempts at DX today didn't pan out.

Thanks once again to all the chasers out there.  Hopefully it wont bee too long before I get the time to hit the trail once again.

73's And Keep Climbing!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mount Roosevelt and Black Mountain

After a successful outing yesterday, I headed out today to Mount Roosevelt and Black Mountain.  Both are located near the town of Crab Orchard Tennessee.  Both are located near I40, and both are easy summits.  Mount Roosevelt is 621m  4 pointer.  The area is known for fall migration of sonbirds, raptors, and butterflies.  I arrived on the summit of  Mount Roosevelt shortly before 0900 local time.  On the summit I found a very well populated antenna farm.

 The summit has several nice picnic tables to set up on.  And as you see, even on a cloudy/foggy day, the view is very pretty.   I made my several contacts, but did notice a lot of noise.  I think it was atmospheric noise due to the incoming storms.  40m seemed a bit long this morning, but I was able to make a few local contacts on 80m. 
I packed up my gear, and my reworked antenna, and headed to my next peak.
Thirty minutes after leaving I arrived on Black Mountain.  Black mountain is part of the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park, the state's only linear park.  It runs over 300 miles and cuts through 11 Tennessee counties from the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park on the Tennessee-Virginia-Kentucky border to Signal Point near Chattanooga. At 862m, Black Mountain is worth 6 SOTA points.  

I was surprised by Black Mountain.  It is a very pretty area.  I parked and began hiking the loop trail.  I stopped on the South Lookout and took some stunning photographs.
 I arrived on the summit and found another FAA Radar dome.  This is the second I have activated in the past two weeks.  It's amazing how much FAA hardware is in this area.
I decided to setup just to the west of the radar dome near the large boulder farm.  I took a few more great pictures.  As I said this is a great summit to activate.

I set up, and again the bands were not kind to me.  QSB was rampant, and I apologize to those I was unable to work.  But I was able to make my contacts and activate the summit.

I recommend each of these summits. Mount Roosevelt is a handicap friendly summit with some nice views.  Black Mountain has a nice short hike, and some great views.  All in all today was a great day.  Days like this are why I find SOTA so intoxicating.  

I wont have the opportunity to activate in the next few week, working way too much overtime.  But I will be on the trail again as soon as possible.  

Thanks again to all the chasers!!!