Trip of 2013.02.09

  • Succeeded: Yes
  • First-activation: Yes

See my trip planning guide at: SOTA Guide: W4G/HC-009, Dyer Mountain


A beautiful day in North Georgia – about 30 degrees at 9 A.M, rising to about 50. Dyer was not my first choice or my second choice for this trip.

Plan-A was Big Bald Mountain. I was stopped cold at Stanley Creek for that hike. The road forded the creek about 2 miles from the trailhead. The ford was about 15 feet wide and 10 inches deep. I bushwhacked 2/10 of a mile up the creek, looking for a crossing, but found nothing safe. I considered wading, but with no spare shoes and water temperature at about 35 degrees, and 60 minutes of scouting up and down the creek, I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and bailed out.

There was no cell coverage on the trail or at the trailhead. My preplanned Plan-B was Rocky Mountain (W4G/HC-008), but by the time I made it back to the car, there was no way I could summit Rocky and meet my alerted time. Since there was no cell, I couldn’t self-spot, and if you can’t self-spot, you can’t afford to miss your activation time. MAYBE Rocky would have had cell, where the Big Bald trail did not, but I didn’t want to risk a failed Plan-B.

So I headed over to Dyer Mountain. I’d previously driven past Dyer four times, without noticing it, when I activated Flat Top Mountain. It is an easy back country trailhead. There’s several miles of dirt road, but it is all good condition; most of it is lane-and-a-half; the last mile is single lane with pull-outs. Easily drivable in my Prius.

I used GPS to identify when I was near the summit. I bushwhacked up the ridge to the peak. Lotsa brush, deadfall, dense trees, and steep terrain. I’ll bet it is worse in spring/summer when the brush is denser. It is, as Oscar Wilde said of life, “Nasty, brutish, and short.” Navigation was via GPS until near the summit. (Once you get close, it is obvious where the apex is.)

There was a nice surrounded-by-peaks view through the trees. The weather was pleasant. It was a peaceful summit. Propagation was kind and I made 18 contacts.

I operated with 12 watts and a new-to-me 30’ wire antenna, with a Balun Designs 9-to-1 UNUN, and a 33’ counterpoise. It seemed to work really well on 20 and good on 40. I may switch to this from my EFHW for 20 meters. While it may not be quite as nice for 20 (in that it requires an explicit counterpoise and it is a little shorter), the fact that it works well on 40 and should also work well on 17 and 30 should make up for it. (And one of my 20m contacts commented that my signal was so strong that I must have been using “a kilowatt and a beam!”)

I used my 11 AA power pack with Powerex NiMh batteries again. I’m very pleased with its performance. It is a little large (since I’m an inept Maker and I put it into a convenient Really Useful Box from Office Depot), and a few ounces heavier than a LiFePo pack. I like the fact that NiMh cells don’t burst into flame and that I can safely recharge them indoors. I do have a charger that charges 8 AA cells at a time and manages the charging of each cell individually. I should get around to wiring a fuse into it. If you’re someone who is on the air for an hour, you might need a LiFePo, but I get 12 watts for my full activation, so that’s good enough for me.

Oh, and if the batteries in my GPS run down, I can always borrow cells from my power pack for the hike out. I’ve recently acquired an adapter cable which should plug into my power pack and supply power to my iPhone, in the event that its battery runs down.

Thank you chasers!

  • 20 meters
    • N1EU
    • N0ZH
    • W7CNL
    • W4RK
    • NS7P
    • AE5KA
    • K3SAE
    • K0YO
    • CT1BQH
    • W3GWU
    • WB0P
  • 40 meters
    • AA4AI
    • W4ZV
    • AJ5C
    • KC3RT
    • N4EX
    • N4MJ
    • K0LAF