SOTA W3/CR-001: Piney Mountain

A yellow and brown turtle on a rock
A turtle, who was sunning himself on a rock at the edge of the woods bordering the slope.

This summit is about an hour north of the Washington, DC area (outside rush hour periods). As mentioned by other reviewers on the SOTA site and clearly visible on GoogleMaps, it is about one mountain away from Camp David, but I can’t say that this had any bearing on the activation.

I parked on Eyler’s Valley Flint Road at 39.666855N, 77.431002W, where the verge is just large enough for a one or two cars on the north side. At this point, power lines cross the road and continue uphill both north and south. The summit lies to the south, up the trail and then a bit eastward into the woods along the ridge. I believe the summit itself is located within the limits of the Seymour B. Cooper Wildlife Sanctuary.

A white car parked on a narrow strip of grass at the side of the road.
My rental car parked on the right side of the road, facing downhill. The climb to the summit starts on the opposite side of the road.

Arriving in July, I had a hot, muggy climb up a slope that got fairly steep at points. For company, I had a horde of orbiting gnats that were not at all impressed by the all-natural organic bug spray that I had picked up earlier in the day at 7-11. I do like the smell of citronella, and perhaps it dissuaded some mosquitoes, but apparently gnats also like citronella and told all their friends about it.

The powerline right of way is a mixture of rocky slope and overgrown weeds, and at some points, the high grass and underbrush was difficult to pass. At times, I found it easier to go to the right or left of the slope into mature woods, where there was little brush. For the steeper section, I grabbed a strong cherry branch that was conveniently lying on the ground, and found that it helped the ascent. Because there is no real path up, and given the steepness at points, I would recommend factoring in more time for this ascent than expected for an about 1 km hike in. Going earlier in the day during the summer or picking a cooler day another time in the year would also be a good idea, but I was constrained by a tight travel schedule.

Looking downhill from a point near the top of the slope, with powerlines running down the middle of a treeless area.
Looking down the slope, back towards the car. The power lines continue up a hill on the other side of the road.

At the top, I tracked leftwards into the woods until my GPS indicated that I was in the activation zone. There, I pitched the 40/20/10 endfed antenna into a tree, and called for contacts. As is typical for mid-afternoon weekday activations, replies came slowly, but I ended up with six on 20m and called it a day.



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