SOTA Activation Report: W4G/NG-022, Black Mountain

Trip of 2013.07.26

  • Succeeded: No
  • First-activation: N.A.
  • Propagation forecast on departure: 40m: Fair, 30m: Good, 20m: Good, 17m: Fair, S/N: 1-2
  • Propagation forecast on return:

See my trip planning guide at: SOTA Guide: W4G/NG-022, Black Mountain


After I activated Big Cedar Mountain, I hiked back to Woody Gap. The sky was blue and I headed up to Black Mountain. I’d saved it to last because it has a dirt road, and I wanted easy navigation in case I had to hike out at dusk.

I’d read another activator who complained that it was a tough hike. As I walked the first half, I was thinking, “This is a piece of cake.” Then I rounded the turn (there’s only one), the trail went up, and up… At one point I was reduced to, “Take 20 steps, rest for 20, take 20 steps…” It was 90 degrees, 90 percent humidity, and mostly sunny. I had already hiked 3 summits beforehand, so it might not be so tiring for a fresh hiker.

As the summit came into view, it started to cloud over. As I started unpacking, I thought I heard a rumble and decided to go with my ‘quick’ antenna. Within minutes, the sky was dark, the thunder was near, and the wind was picking up. I briefly considered putting up a tarp and trying to wait out the storm, but since it was late in the day I wasn’t sure there would be enough light. Time to flee without activating. It was raining as I hustled down that hill it took so long to climb.

I’m glad I fled because shortly after I reached my car the wind was really blowing and it was raining so hard I could only drive about 15 MPH. That turned out to be a good thing. As I rounded a corner there was a tree across the highway.

I had been hoping for my 30th activation on this expedition, but he who summits and runs away lives to activate again another day. ;-)

Trip of 2013.08.24

  • Succeeded: Yes
  • First-activation: No
  • Propagation forecast on departure: 40m: Fair, 20m: Good, 17m: Fair, S/N: 1-2, MUF=9.92, SFI=123, A=15, K=2
  • Propagation forecast on return: 40m: Fair, 20m: Good, 17m: Fair, S/N: 1-2, MUF=null, SFI=116, A=15, K=2, 6 Meter E-skip

See my trip planning guide at: SOTA Guide: W4G/NG-022, Black Mountain


I activated W4G/NG-022, Black Mountain today. This was a much nicer trip than in July when I got chased off the mountain by a thunderstorm.

That one was tough because it was hot, it was an extra hill tacked on after other activations, and I was in a hurry. Today, it was my only summit, the weather was cool, and the weather forecast was good, so I meandered up the hill. The summit showed up in no time and it was a nice walk.

There’s a communications tower on top, with a small clearing to the north and a larger clearing to the south. I went with the southern clearing.

I set up an EARCHI 6-40 end-fed, with the feed point 24’ up a mast and the far end a little higher. I had some trouble with a loose connection. Every time the mast shook, I had loose-wire QRN. ‘Dunno whether it was the feed or the antenna connector. Having a connection “up there” is a down-side of an elevated feed point.

I can’t say that I saw a better signal with an elevated horizontal than with a vertical on the mast. Certainly not enough to be worth the extra effort.

There was some thunderstorm noise – more on 40 than on 20. There were a couple of contacts I couldn’t pull out of the noise. (Sorry about that.) Thank you chasers!