SOTA W3/PT-004: Sugerloaf Knob East

An aerial view of the route back to Washington DC from Indiana, with sites identified by markers.
Sites that looked like quick side trips along the way back to Washington, DC from Indiana.

Yes, yet another Sugarloaf. I guess sugarloafs were very popular for long time and people saw them wherever they looked. I activated this Sugarloaf on the way back to Washington, DC from Indiana. This and several other SOTA summits are clustered near the Ohiopyle State Park. I have camped and white water rafted there a couple times in the past, but due to time constraints, I didn’t have much time to hang out in the park proper on this trip.

My instructions for this one were to park around 39.824924N, 79.441155W and then hike up the fire road. The road up to the parking spot is well-maintained, although some of the crossroads a rough. Not too far before the parking spot, there is a large parking lot with a “warming cabin” for hikers, and more importantly, working bathrooms.

When I got to the start of (what I think is) the “fire road”, it looked like a two-track road, but within the first twenty feet, it turned into a steep-walled gully that no car could pass. I backed out to the road and continued a bit further to a gravel and mud spot on the side of the road and parked there. Had I kept going just a bit further, I would have come to a road that led upwards and which would be passable by car for a considerable distance — I figured that one out on the walk back, though.

Terrain map of the area near the summit showing the route taken
The red asterisk marks where I parked and the red heart marks where I probably should have parked.

I climbed up the “fire road” gully, which at the top came out to a road, which is visible on aerial maps. I followed that road to the point where the “fire road” marked on my GPS diverged. It looks like underground natural gas lines run along what is designated the fire road. The fire road is overgrown and grassy, so I kept going along the main road to a point where a side road took off due north on the left towards the summit.

I followed that road until I came to the flat, wooded area that must have been the original fire road. I continued westward for a bit to get closer to GPS coordinates of the summit. Finally, I found a nice rock to sit on and pitched the antenna in a tree.

I had an unusually difficult time getting in my four contacts from this location. The K-index had spiked to five that afternoon, and perhaps more importantly, this was a weekday activation. I thought that being near the July 4th holiday (U.S. Independence Day) might mean that more people would be monitoring, but what it actually turned out to mean was that more people were sending.

I think only one of four contacts was a reply to my CQ, all the others were my reply to their CQs. Consequently, conversations were much longer than the usual SOTA contacts. In a couple cases, giving the SOTA reference led to conversations about what SOTA is, so while these may not have been the most efficient use of battery power, maybe I’ve introduced a couple people to another aspect of the hobby.

There were a ton of bugs in these woods, but I’m glad to report no ticks. Still, I’d recommend liberal application of some effective bug repellent. There were plenty of high trees for a wire antenna and no interference. I did not have cellular connectivity (T-mobile) from this site.

After the activation, I drove down the Mountain Road towards a few stores that provision rafters, kayakers, etc., and found some excellent ice cream. Top marks for the Sweet Pretzel flavor.

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