Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bunches Bald Activation

Fall is fast approaching and Kendall and I took the weekend to go camping.  We had initially decided to camp in the Smokey Mountains but because of the government shutdown we were forced to make other arrangements.  "I bet I will never see my 20 dollar reservation fee."  We decided on a private campground along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Mile High Campground was an excellent choice.  It is an extremely beautiful area, its cheap, and it sits right next to Bunches bald W4C/WM-013.  
So of course I brought along my radio to make an activation.

Kendall and I arrived and setup our campsite late Saturday morning.  I brought an old Eureka tent that belonged to my Grandpa Doogan.  I love this tent but it has been at least 10 years since I pitched it last.  After a few minutes I finally remembered how to set it up and our campsite was ready.

During the planning phase of this trip many of my fellow SOTA operators were curious as to the access to Bunches Bald.  When we checked into the campground I asked the campground guy to see if there was access to the summit and he said it was easy to get to and pointed out the directions.  The summit is very close to the campground and the hike took less than 10 minutes.

To reach the trail head you go to the extreme west end of the campground near campsite T4.
there you will find a path with a metal gate.

Continue past the gate for less that 100 yards and then turn right and bushwack up the mountain to the summit.  The summit is not very bald as you can see from the picture below
 But there are a few spots that open up and you can see the view

It was a great activation and I made contacts with many operators.  I was not able to employ my antenna directly on the summit but I found an open area a few feet away where I was able to creatively deploy it. A big thanks to all of the activators below for your help in activating this peak.

Date:05/Oct/2013 Summit:W4C/WM-013 (Bunches Bald) Call Used:KK4NQQ Points: 10

I headed back to camp and spent the rest of the weekend relaxing with Kendall.  Here are a few of our pics.

What an Awesome view!

Setup the radio in camp to play a bit

Nothing better than campfire bacon and eggs!

Gus is ready for bed already!

Campfire pineapple upside down cake.  1 cake doughnut, 2 slices pineapple, brown sugar and butter.  wrap in foil and place in the coals for 5 to 10 minutes.  mmmm mmmmm good!

 We had a great weekend! 

73's and keep climbing!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


What a great day for an activation!  It has been a while since I hit the trail and I have been itching to get out and activate.  I had planned on hiking to Thunderhead Mountain in the Smokey Mountains today, but At midnight the Federal Government shut down.  The shut down also shut me down.  So, Plan B.  I decided to give Big Bald a go.  Big Bald W4T/SU-010 is located along the Appalachian Trail between the Great Smoky Mountains and Roan High Knob.  It is the 29th highest in Tennessee at 5516 feet. 

The peak can be accessed by Sams Gap and hike the AT for 6.5 miles.  Or thru the gated community of Wolf Laurel.  I called the guard station and asked if they allowed hikers to traverse the community in order to gain access to the summit and I was emphatically told NO.  I was able however to talk to a very nice lady that runs a bed and breakfast in the community and she was more than happy to put my name on the visitors list.  Her bed and breakfast is called THE BALD MOUNTAIN HOUSE.  If anyone is looking for a nice bed and breakfast I would suggest it.

Once inside I drove toward the summit.  The roadway will get you within a mile of the summit.  Stopped by the gate below you will need to hike the remaining mile to the summit.

 Continue along the gravel road until it intersects the AT here

The short trail is very pretty and there are some great views.

Once on the summit I found the marker.  I love it when I find these!

I set up my new antenna.  It is a 88ft inverted V running to my KX3 with 300ohm twin line.  The antenna is supported by my Jackite fiberglass pole.  I had not tested this antenna yet but I was in for a great day with it. 

The set up was straight forward and in no time I was on the air.


It was an AWESOME day.  I totaled 45 QSO's my most to date for a summit.  I also scored 3 Summit to Summits with KI4SVM, KU6J, and N6KZ. 
17 M was rocking today and I made contacts with EJ0M in Ireland, UT1AN in the Ukraine, G6TUH in England, PA2LO in the Netherlands, MM0USU in Scotland, T43BJ in Cuba, and IK6BGJ in Italy.

I also contacted W4JAR.  He lives in the gated community I accessed to get on site.  I was surprised when he said he was located less than 2 miles from me!

My 10 watts was really getting out there today!  And also a huge thanks to all of the other activators out there.  As a new ham I am still meeting many of you and I would like to than all of the activators that I have worked several times over the past year.  It is you guys that make all this possible.  Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help us make more contacts!

In closing I will include a few pics from my journey, as well as a little friend I ran into on the trail!

73's and KEEP CLIMBING!!!