Scorching SOTA activation: W4V/SH-006 and W4V/BR-009

What a scorcher of a day it was! Hot and humid in a classically mid-Atlantic East Coast August kind of way, and a reminder that heat poses a danger no less than cold on the summits.

Both activations were made in the Shenandoah National Park and the approaches began from Skyline Drive.

I’m adding cell coverage as a category of evaluation, both at the trailhead and at the summit. My carrier is ATT.

  • – no coverage
  • + spotty coverage
  • ++ solid coverage

[NB: This is likely my last SOTA posting for a while. My work takes me to Rome for the fall semester and to Konstanz, Germany in the spring (not bad, nicht wahr?). These travels throw a big unknown into my operating possibilities. The SOTA situation around Rome is pretty sparse. In Konstanz it’s much better. We’ll see how things develop.]

IMG_1679Summit: W4V/SH-006 (Hightop) – 8 points
Date: 2016 08 17 (Wed.), ca 16.00Z
Weather: sunny, muggy, and 90s
Difficulty: Moderate, 40 mins up.
Equipment: HB-1B; EF-W3EDP; LDG Z-100+; telescoping pole
Log: 11 qso’s
Bands: 20m, 40m; cw
Cell (TH/Summit): +/+

Enter the Shenandoah National Park at the Swift Run Gap Entrance and head south on Skyline Drive. The parking lot for Hightop is on the right hand side, 1.2 miles from the Rangers’ Station. The AT crosses the Drive at that point. Cross to the far side (east side) of the Drive and start hiking.

The trail is well maintained and steadily uphill. There are views. To be honest I preferred the forested parts of the hike. For starters, it was cooler. The variation along the trail – lots of moss-covered boulders along the way, sometimes with heavy vinage leaning into the trail, at one point a grove of mountain laurel – was pleasant. The summit itself is open with views to the south and west. There are lots of antenna hanging possibilities.

Summit: W4V/BR-009 (Big Flat Mtn) – 8 points
Date: 2016 08 17 (Wed.), ca 20.00Z
Weather: sunny, muggy, and 90s
Difficulty: Easy+, 5 mins up.
Equipment: HB-1B; EF-W3EDP; LDG Z-100+; telescoping poleIMG_1674
Log: 18 qso’s
Bands: 20m, 40m; cw
Cell (TH/Summit): +/+

BR-009 is within the Loft Mountain Campground. At 14 miles past the Swift Run Gap Entrance Rangers Station, turn left onto the drive to the campground. The drive to the campground ranger station is less than 1.5 miles. The campground was nearly empty, and I had no difficulty driving into the campground, just following the roads up toward water towers that I assumed was the peak. (Others attest that the full campground falls in the activation zone.) I parked on the road and walked a hundred years into the woods to set up.

IMG_1675The summit itself didn’t provide ready views because of the trees, but a little down the hill is the campground amphitheater, which offers a great view to the west … and from certain points, solid cell coverage. I took a break there to get the view, to eat a sandwich, and to check email; several campers came and went, doing the same.

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