I got to Cyprus a few weeks ago, but just got on the air yesterday from SOTA peak 5B/CY-002, Madari. We’ll be here for another three years, so I would like to see how many SOTA peaks I can reach on the island.
I’ve been thinking about these peaks since before we arrived, and here’s my very rough assessment of them based on information that I can glean from online sources. Red means “just about impossible” (like a restricted army area), yellow means “no, I’m not willing to dangle from that cliff” (or, at least not yet — there are easier peaks), green means “a doable hike, maybe in the cooler part of the day”, and blue means “looks like you could pretty much drive on”. These assumptions may prove hilariously wrong when I get a look at these sites in person. The purple marker near Nicosia is home and the darker purple marker is the site for the Region 1 field day operation in a couple weeks by the Nicosia Radio Club, 5B4NC.
After activating Stony Man (W4V/SH-002), I hopped in the car and drove a bit more south on Skyline Drive to reach the Upper Hawksbill Trail parking area.
The trail up is wide and well-maintain and joins up with a gravel fire road for the last third of the ascent to the summit. At the top, there is a shelter and stone stairs lead to an observation platform that has a stunning view. The total distance in is about a kilometer and a half and elevation gain is about 100m. I had good cellular data service from parking to summit.
I saved two ten-point peaks for a drizzly weekday, hoping that would cut down on the number of visitors I’d run into, but even on an off day, Stony Man and Hawksbill, two of the highest peaks in Shenandoah National Park, were busy.
On the way back to my house from Marsh Hill (W3/WE-001), I stopped at Dan’s Rock. Google Maps got me there with no problem. The site is a graffiti-covered metal staircase to steel observation platform, which overlooks a valley.
Marsh Hill is a very different kind of SOTA site than the ones I’ve been working recently in the Shenandoah Valley — it’s a ski resort. It is at the extreme western edge of my range, working from my house just north of Washington, DC, and it took about three hours to drive out there. When I got out there, I was amazed to see, in the third week of April with outside temperatures in the low 70s F (about 24 C) that there was still a little snow clinging to the slopes.
I activated Pass Mountain (W4V/SH-013) and The Pinnacle (W4V/SH-005, not to be confused with just plain Pinnacle, W4V/SH-019, a never-visited peak) in the same day, and I have one pointer: don’t park in the obvious spot, neither Pass Overlook nor Pinnacle Overlook are near the paths to their respective peaks.
I found myself up in New York on the occasion of QRP TTF day and asked Tom, N2YTF for some suggestions about peaks in the area that would be relatively quick activations and/or provide some cover for expected rainy weather. He gave me a great list, which I’ll be working through on subsequent visits to the area.
The most proximal was Hook Mountain, which is accessible right off route 9W just across the Hudson River from where I was staying. Tom did warn of ticks on that hike, but it looked like an easy walk. However, Bear Mountain was also tempting: a bit further to the north but essentially a drive-up peak topped by a large parking lot surrounded by trees. I decided to put Bear Mountain in the log first and figured that I’d then have more time for Hook Mountain.
As W2SE mentioned in his review of Bear Mountain, activators should check ahead of time that the road to the top, Perkins Memorial Drive, is open. I did call the park to check, but it being Saturday morning, no one was there and I went right to a voice navigation system that failed to mention status of that road — which of course I found chained off when I got there. So, this is the story of activating the peak by way of the Appalachian Trail.
We saved the easiest peak for last during this visit to Shenandoah National Park, and tackled Hogback after Compton Peak and North Marshall. Park at Hogback overlook (38.762N, 78.2742W) and walk back northward along Skyline Drive about 500m to a chained-off gravel service road that ascends towards a commercial antenna installation. From the road to the top, it’s about a 40m rise, easy-peasy.