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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SOTA W4V/SH-009: North Marshall

North Marshall was the second peak of the day, wedged between Compton Peak and Hogback Mountain. The Appalachian Trail rises right from the parking area (38.775104N, 78.210851W) and it’s about a 900m walk in from there with 80m rise — a pleasant walk up a nicely maintained trail.

The parking lot at left accommodates perhaps ten cars.
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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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Repairing the 40/20/10 EFHW antenna

The repaired antenna; details below.

My LNR precision trail-friendly end-fed halfwave antenna has been my go to antenna for SOTA and other field operations for several years. It is compact, easy to deploy in a tree or on a telescoping mast, and it gets good signal reports. Unfortunately, after many years of use and substantial abuse, the antenna broke on my last trip. When I got back, I put it back together, almost good as new.

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