Friday, March 15, 2013

Mt Sterling, A Cold Night Under the Stars

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

That was one of my favorite poems while in high school.  It reminds me of the times I spent with my Grandfather hunting and walking in the woods.  I also think of it frequently while on SOTA activations.  Activators definitely take the road less traveled in pursuit of our summits.  

And so today I venture onward to a new adventure.  Mt Sterling  W4C/CM-010 is my target today.  At an elevation of 5,842 feet it is one of the higher peaks in the Smokey Mountains.  Climbing nearly 2000 feet in less than three miles, the ascent to the summit is a bit challenging, however, it's a steady climb and the trail is in fairly good shape.  The trail, an old and rocky jeep trail, has some great views.

 The trail head can normally be accessed on the Sterling Gap Road.  Bus as my luck would have it the road was closed.  I had checked the Park Service for closed roads in the area, and I believed this one was open.  I was wrong.  Luckily I had a good map with me.  ALWAYS carry a good map.  I like to use the GPS on my phone but when out and about the cell sometimes cant be trusted.

On my map I found two gravel roads that would take me pretty close to the trail head.  I decided to make a go of it.  The little detour added about another mile to my hike but I was happy to find a trail that went between where I parked and the Mt Sterling trail head.  The hike is a good one, a steady incline on a rocky trail.  I took my time and eventually reached the summit.

I set up camp and readied my gear for an evening of activating.  I strung my 132 foot center fed doublet antenna from the fire tower and sloped it to the northeast.  I also set up my hammock and readied my cold weather gear.

I started off on 20 and 40 meters.  I made contacts with
W4ZV, KD4FVD, N4EX, AE4FZ, KG3W, K4PIC, W4TZM (SUMMIT TO SUMMIT), W6UB, W0EA, N1EU, AND NS7P.  I took a short break to warm my fingers and grab some dinner and then I set up for 80 meters.

I made contacts with W4BRS, WA4HSN, AE4FZ, KI8R ( Congrats on over 700 chaser points!), N4EX, W6UB, W4ZV, K4URE, KB1RJC, KB1RJD, KC2SOU, AD5A, AD4RE, AND WG8Y.  It was  great night and I could have kept going but it was getting cold and the wind was really picking up so i decided to pack my gear and get in my warm sleeping bag.  The temp dropped to around 20 and the wind was blowing at about 30 so my little hammock was a rocking under that fire tower.  But I was as snug as a little bug in a rug.

The wind kept me up a good portion of the night so I didn't get a whole lot of sleep.  As soon as the sun was up I made for home.  It was an awesome night with many contacts.  Thanks to all the chasers!

Also check out the short video I made of the activation.
click here

Thanks for stopping by,

73's and Keep Climbing

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