SOTA Activation Report: W4G/HC-043 - Vineyard Mountain

Trip of 2012.12.02

  • Succeeded: Yes
  • First-activation: Yes

See my trip planning guide at: SOTA Guide: W4G/HC-043, Vineyard Mountain


The plan was to park at the Riverside Day Use Area, just below Alatoona Dam, and hike up the Eagle Scout Trails to the summit. But the road was gated just before Riverside. And there were plenty of “no parking” signs around the gate, and there was a gate house (to permit traffic to the dam?), so ditching the car and hiking up the road to the trailhead was out. My guess is that they close the road for the winter, and it will re-open in the spring.

Google Maps shows a route via Red Top Mountain Rd to Somerset Ln. Somerset is a gated community, and there wasn’t an easy walk around the gate, so Plan B wasn’t looking good either.

I was headed home and just before the I-75 entrance ramp, I noticed a rusty gate and a bit of pavement on the right. If you look at Google Maps, you’ll see two features: * A big gravel parking lot half-way up the entrance ramp. * Just east of the lot, there’s an old, abandoned dirt road running north.

Perfect weather, convenient site to Atlanta, moderate-level hike – at least the planned part of the hike was moderate. Important learning – Yes, chasers will show up for a 1-point summit. Thanks guys!


  • 10 QSO at 10 watts on 20 and 40 meters. 14.340 and 7.262.
  • Thank you chasers!

Airtime: Scheduled for 11:45 Eastern. On the air from about 11:00 to 11:30. 2 December, 2012

Radio: Elecraft KX3.


  • Easy site for antennas.
  • Trees around the opening at the summit.
  • Space to guy out a vertical.
  • Antenna I used:
    • 20/40 meters - EFHW on 31’ Jackite with EARCHI 20 meter matchbox. Bungee-corded it to the trunk of a tilted tree.
    • I used a counterpoise of about 21-20 feet.
    • Next time, if I remember, I’ll remove the matchbox when I move from 20 to 40.

Trip of 2013.08.10

  • Succeeded: Yes
  • First-activation: Yes

I made a little trip up to Vineyard Mountain, W4G/HC-043 today. It is a local 1-pointer, which I’ve activated before, but I had a new antenna setup I wanted to try.

I bought a $2 sand spike, which I drove into the ground with a rock, and I stuck the end of my carbon fiber pole into the cup. It supported the mast admirably, until I added the antenna, which ran off to the side because it is twice the length of the mast. I’m comfortable watching the narrow end of my mast bend, but the lower segments were bending enough to worry me, so I added guy lines at 5’ AGL. The spike would work OK with a 1/4 wave vertical on 20 meters, but I was using a half-wave inverted L. I had hoped to eliminate guying, but no such luck.

I’d planned to do some antenna trimming, with my new LNR 10/20/40. My son decided to join me at the last minute, and we left home later than usual, so we were hiking in August, in Georgia, with 90+ degrees and 90% humidity; he was pretty uncomfortable by the time we reached the summit. “Dad, can you finish quick so we can get off this miserable mountain?” So the trimming will wait for another trip. (I did measure SWR. The LNR is way too long.)

Massachusetts was out in force today. I heard from N1EU, NE1SJ, and K1MAZ summit-to-summit, all on W1 summits.