Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Springtime SOTA Adventure Part 1 - Friday

So this past weekend, I finally got my tail outside and did some serious radio work. I started a new job about 6 weeks back, and have understandably been busy with it. The weather hasn't really been cooperating this spring either, but all of these things were just excuses to keep me out of the mountains and off the air. The time to remedy this was now. The Goal was to activate 10 SOTA peaks in 48 hours, and get some much needed points on the board for 2016. The kiddo was secured at grandmas, the XYL was tied up with homework, so I grabbed the dog and we headed west.

The plan was to come into work early friday, get everything done, and scoot out before rush hour. The first stop was HickoryNut Mountain, W5A/CS-013, just west of Hot Springs. This was a new peak for me, but it wasn't too far off my path to Mena, AR (where I was spending the night) so I figured it'd be a good first stop. I got on site at 2030 UTC, grabbed my backpack and did the short 300 yard hike to the top of the mountain.

Once on top (lacking a good view) I tossed up the dipole, made a quick spot, and grabbed 14 quick contacts between 40m and 20m. I finished up a smidge after 4pm local, and jumped back in the jeep and headed west. Next stop, Buck Knob (W5A/OH-006). On a side quest to SOTA, Sporadic-E had popping up and down that afternoon, so I had my 857 tied into the jeep, monitoring 50.125 while driving. Just shy of the turn-off on to the forest service roads to Buck knob, I got my first 6m contact of the year, while mobiling down the highway. Score!

Buck Knob is technically a "drive-up" however the last 2 miles only barely qualifies as a road. I've been up it a couple times in the Jeep before, but lesser vehicles risk damage just looking at the trail. Took me about 30 minutes to do the two miles from the main forest road, but I made it in time to get my gear setup and enjoy the sun starting to get low in the sky. I made another 15 contacts between 40m/20m, and also just for kicks put up my 80m pocket inverted-v, and checked into the Razorback Net QRP portable.. which is always fun. After the net I piled back into the Jeep and started the trek back down into the valley. I got to my sleeping spot about 830pm, just as it got fully dark, and packed it in, preparing for the big day on Saturday.

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