SOTA Activation Report: W4G/NG-040, Sassafras Mountain

Trip of 2013.07.26

  • Succeeded: Yes
  • First-activation: No
  • 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-040, Sassafras Mountain


After hiking up, I found a flat spot off the trail and, with the weather dark and ominous, I set up my ‘easy’ antenna quickly. (There was about a minute of light rain, and I almost packed up.) There was lots of thunderstorm QRN, but 14 chasers were patient enough to work through the noise despite my sub-optimal antenna.

As I was packing up, I heard crashing in the bushes. I once spent an unpleasant night getting harassed by 3 bears while solo backpacking in the Smokies, so any time I hear unexplained crashing in the bushes my pulse quickens. I called a loud hello several times with no answer, so I was getting pretty antsy. It turned out to be a troop of Army Rangers in camo and green face paint. (When I got home I told my kid it was like being invaded by green plastic army men.) In setting up off the trail, I had intended to avoid traffic through my site, but since they were on a training mission, they were going summit-to-summit, disdaining the trail.

Ironically, the trainer and another leader had scouted ahead of the rest of the troops, because they were concerned that I might be a bear. Reassured that I posed no threat to the troops, they called, “Rangers, move out!” and the troops were off.