Saturday, May 23, 2015

Don't Mess with Mingus

Mt Mingus, thou art a cold heartless wench!  I must say that of all my activation's Mingus has been the toughest.  Mt. Mingus appears to be much easier in the planning stages.  The hike is easily under a mile and a half with not a great deal of elevation change.  But this mountain has teeth.  She will whip you, beat you, slap you, impale you, and trip you.  She will cause you to scream obscenities, and shed tears.  Having been there once before I knew the challenges ahead.  But last time was in the winter.  Today would present some different and difficult challenges.

In afterthought, I should have started out a little earlier.  I should have hit the trail head just as dawn hit.  I slept in a bit and headed out a little before 0700.  Below are a few pics of the drive out there.  The only drive to a summit where you will see the Titanic, John Wayne, and King Kong.

I arrived at the trail head shortly after 0800 hours.  The trail head is located on the Clingman Domes road.  There is am information sign describing the Indian Gap Road.

 Indian Gap
Into the Rabbit Hole.
The hike begins easy enough.  Follow the trail towards Newfound Gap.  Along the way you will run into a metal platform helping you over a fence line.  As you can see a few of the hikers support local law enforcement.

 A short easy climb until you hit the turning tree.
Turning Tree
This is where the fun begins.  Navigation is fairly straight forward.  The ridge line is fairly narrow so in most parts keep the down hill on your left and right and you should be good.  Do bring along a GPS, or be good with a compass and map.  The brush is thick, and at times you will want to check your bearings to keep from back tracking.  The first quarter of a mile is the easiest.  There is even a faint trail that can be seen at times.  It soon disappears and you are faced with a tough bushwhack.  At some point my HT died and would not turn on.  After returning home I put in my spare battery and it fired right up.  I am currently charging the battery, and hope it is still serviceable.  It should have lasted throughout the hike.
 Hours of this
The Big White Rock
There are a few spots where you can get a pretty good view of Mt. Leconte, including the Alum Trail.
 Mt. Leconte and Alum Bluff

Setup, Finally
I setup and made my first contact at about 1230.  I tried calling CQ for a bit, but no takers.  It was difficult to setup my dipole, and I know it wasn't operating at its max efficiency.  I need a smaller antenna like a mag-loop for this type of summit.  There was a bunch or rag chewing on 7.200 so I dropped down around 7.196.  No luck.  I scanned around and made my first contact with K3IMC on 20m.  I kept scanning and checked into a few nets to ensure I could activate.  On one of the nets I made a contact with AB9LF.  He said he was familiar with SOTA and would spot me.  Unfortunately I don't think his spot was entered. I made one more contact and called for a few on the Freq AB9LF said was spotted, but received no calls.  I was way behind schedule and knew I had to get moving if I was going to get off the mountain before nightfall.  I packed up and headed back.

I only made six total contacts.  None were my usual chasers.  I hate when I cant get the chasers their points.  

I would like to thank everyone for their concern for my safety.  Whenever I pack into the back-country I am always well prepared.  I never enter the backwoods unprotected.  My Glock shared in my journey today.  Remember to always follow your local firearm laws.  I also carry a certain amount of survival gear.  First aid gear, emergency shelter, 3 ways to start fire, and enough food and water for a comfortable overnight stay.  I have had a great deal of first aid training, survival, and military experience.  I also have an emergency plan in place.  If the wife has not heard from me by sunset she knows to sound the alarm.  I hate to hike alone, but I am confident of my abilities.  

I do appreciate all the thoughts for my safety everyone.  This is why I love the SOTA community.  We are a tight knit community that cares.  A special thanks to Erik, Dow, John, David, Gary, and Martha.  You don't know how much your concerns mean to me.   I endured some scrapes, bumps and bruises.  No major injuries, nothing some Aleve wont take care of.

Today I had a tough day.  Gear problems, antenna problems, and few contacts.  Here is a quick breakdown of the day.

  • Lost Compass    85 Dollars
  • Lost Compass Pouch   10 Dollars
  • Lost Patch on Pouch  5 Dollars
  • Destroyed Combat Pants  60 Dollars
  • Dead HT Battery    20 Dollars
  • Knowing your friends truly care

Again thanks everyone.  

I will be working on a short video over the weekend that will show the fun bushwhack.   I think it shows me falling toooo many times!  Should be a good one.

73's  And Keep Climbing

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Get Activating!

So its been a while since my feet have pounded their way up a SOTA summit.  I am getting that itch again, and with the nice weather here to stay it is time to get moving.  This coming weekend I hope to hit a few summits and make some contacts.  As it sits I may attempt Max Patch on either Thursday or Friday.  And then I hope to activate Whiterock Ridge W4T/SU-062 with Erik WX4ET on Saturday.

Kimber will be in attendance and I hope to snap some pictures and roll some film!  Hope to see hear you all soon!!!

Oh and be sure to check out my YouTube page.  I hope to add more videos soon!

73's and KEEP CLIMBING!!!!!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

North America Summit to Summit Weekend 2015

What a great day for SOTA!  Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to venture out yesterday.  It seems the Summit to Summit Saturday was awesome.  I spent the day with my wife Kendall.  We purchased her Valentines Day gift.  A new rifle! A Savage in Muddy Girl Camo!  I had worked the previous nine days and I believe if I had skipped out on the wife for a summit she would have changed the locks on me.

I was up early Sunday morning, packed my rucksack, and headed out the door.  My destination was 

Mount Roosevelt W4T/RV-038

Mount Roosevelt is an easy drive up summit.  It has excellent cell service, and a few concrete tables to activate on.  There are several transmission towers and a fire tower.  I was treated to some interesting QRM from time to time.  A few of the cars passing by my antenna were putting off a great deal of noise.  One Ford Explorer in particular was very noisy.  

 I brought along my camera and decided to try shooting some video.  I will post a video of my antenna and radio setup and some activation tid bits.  I was all over the bands today in an attempt to log as many Summit to Summit as possible.  I ended up with nine including one S to S in Scotland! 10m was going very strong today.  I logged over 20 DX chasers today.  Some of the countries included Germany, England, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Austria, Slovenia, Spain, and Poland.  
All on 10 watts SSB! 
Loving it! 

Thanks again to all the chasers today!

73's and Keep Climbing!!!!

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!!!