Delaware QSO Party 2019

Every year, a few QSO parties fall on the same day, some large ones including 7th Call Area QSO Party and the New England QSO Party, and some individual state ones like the Indiana QSO Party. And then there is Delaware.

Brecknock Park from GoogleMaps. The grey marker is the position of my picnic table.
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SOTA W4V/SH-001: Hawksbill

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.

Panorama from the observation platform.
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SOTA W3/WE-002: Dan’s Rock

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.

A view from the parking lot towards Dan’s Rock at left. The tower and antennas on the right are private and not part of the SOTA site.
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SOTA W3/WE-001: Marsh Hill

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.

A view of the sport center parking lot, looking northward. I was up on the grassy hill to the right of center, above.
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SOTA W4V/SH-013: Pass Mountain

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.

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SOTA W2/GC-077: Bear Mountain

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.

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SOTA W4V/SH-007: Hogback Mountain

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.

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