SOTA W4V/SH-016: Compton Peak

Back to Shenandoah National Park for this 6 point peak that lies alongside the Appalachian Trail. I entered the park from the Front Royal entrance to the north and drove down to the Compton Gap parking lot at 38.823907N, 78.170463W. On the same day, I activated W4V/SH-009 North Marshall and W4V/SH-007, Hogback Mountain, and the three made a nice day-long package, with decreasing effort from first to last.

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SOTA W4V/SH-027: Dickey Hill

This was the first of a series of summits I am hoping to activate within Shenandoah National Park, and proved to be very straightforward. The only twist was avoiding operating next to the government installation at the end of a road leading to the summit. Instead, I operated just a little to the side, but still on the summit.

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Sota: W4V/BR-001

Rocky Mountain,
Virginia

I visited one of the tallest mountains in Virginia yesterday with Mike, KA4CDN. Our goal was to scope out potential sites to activate as an expedition during the upcoming Virginia QSO Party, and while up there, to work some SOTA contacts. The ridge line near the peak runs between Rockbridge and Amherst counties, and a dirt road continues northward to the three way county intersection that also involves Nelson County. Weather was clear when we left Northern Virginia, but halfway down we hit frozen rain and as we climbed in altitude, it just got colder and colder.

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SOTA: W3/WE-004

Quirack Mountain

I am only back in the Washington DC area for a few months, so I am triaging sites based on range from the house and ease of activation. I had thought that this site was more or less drive up, but that’s not the case. It’s not a difficult activation, but it does require a bit of hiking, some of it off-trail.

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SOTA: Neither W8V/EP-004 nor W3/CR-003

The plan

This weekend was the January edition of the ARRL VHF contest and I thought I had an unbeatable plan: to find a summit in a less-worked grid square and make both SOTA and VHF contest contacts. I set my sites on W8V/EP-004, Round Top Mountain in West Virginia (grid FM09), which was activated just once in the past.

Weather was not fully cooperative. While storm weather passed to the North dumping snow on New England, temperatures dropped below freezing. Even as I was tossing things in the trunk of the car for the trip, I noticed that wind was tossing around garbage cans in my drive way, and I wondered how that would play out on a mountain top.

The reality

Well, I never found out. The brief version of the story is that Round Top is not accessible by the route that I had planned. It looked like an almost drive-on peak, with Allegheny Way road terminating in a large, round pad of asphalt and from there, a dirt path running towards a peak sporting a few commercial antennas. However…

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SOTA: El Sereno (W6/NC-191)

A race with the sun to activate the fifth peak.

I had pushed for five peaks in one day, trying to break my previous record of three that I had managed last year in France. While I got into position on El Sereno and made a contact, I did not manage to get four, so this peak does not count as a SOTA activation.

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SOTA: Table Mountain (W6/NC-265)

Nope, not the way to go. I backed out and continued up the main road to the winery.

The fourth mountain on my tour of easily accessible peaks just south of San Francisco took me to a vineyard parking lot in Saratoga. The trail towards the peak departs from the topmost parking lot at 37.259823,-122.066786. This activation was a little rushed because the winery gate closes at 5 pm and not 7 pm, as had been previously reported. Perhaps during summer they remain open later. I followed directions from Google to the parking lot and had to turn around at one point where the directions took me up a private driveway.

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SOTA: Ben Lommond (W6/NC-178)

Gate to the side of the road. I operated on a tree stump directly ahead.

This was the third peak of the day for me.  It lies along a road that runs atop a ridge. I found a cutout along the side of the road and walked past a gate to a clearing next to a commercial antenna installation and pitched my end-fed 40/20/10m antenna into a tree.

I did not have any significant interference from the antennas or solar charging station, and worked some stations on 20m and 40m. The site is not far from a firefighter training area and juvenile detention center, but none of the neighbors came by to visit.\

Next stop: Table Mountain, W6/NC-265.