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-041, Gooch Mountain


I hit the trail at 8:30. It was the darkest 8:30 I can recall. Heavy overcast, mild fog, and heavily wooded.

Surprise - The trail has been rerouted and no longer goes near the summit. This is common with the Appalachian Trail. Things got busy at work and I didn’t take the time to cross-check the topo with other sources for accuracy. I was looking at a bushwhack up the side of the mountain. I don’t mind a bushwhack in fall/winter/early spring, but lush vegetation makes for a miserable climb. Navigating to the peak is easy (just go up), but without a shadow I sometimes wander off route when returning to the trail. I decided to come back and get it on a clear winter day.

Trip of 2013.11.09

  • Succeeded: Yes
  • First-activation: Yes
  • Propagation forecast on departure: 40m=Poor, 20m=Fair, 17m=Fair, S/N=3-4, A=4, K=4, Geomag=Active
  • Propagation forecast on return: 40m=Fair, 20m=Fair, 17m=Good, S/N=1-2, A=4, K=2, Geomag=Quiet

See my trip planning guide at: SOTA Guide: W4G/NG-041, Gooch Mountain


This was my second attempt to activate Gooch. Last time, in July, I learned that I’d have a non-trivial bushwhack, regardless of my approach. Bushwhacking is much easier when cold weather has killed off the vegetation so I came back to try again in November.

Instead of trying to get close on the Appalachian Trail, I parked by the side of the road, bushwhacked up the side of the ridge which runs south from the summit, and followed the ridge line to the summit. The climb was short and steep. I was able to move pretty quickly along the ridge line, so I arrived early.

This was my second expedition with my new 36’ carbon mast. Instead of lying it flat, attaching my antenna wire, and raising it to vertical, I went straight up with it. I attached the wire as I extended it up (using zip ties), leaning it on my shoulder. Once it was fully extended, I leaned it against a tree, and then I guyed it out, to prevent a stray breeze from toppling it. It went up in about 5 minutes, so now I was running way ahead of schedule.

I’ve found a sweet spot with my equipment. I’m very happy with:

  • 36’ CF mast
  • 33’ end-fed wire (half-wave on 20 meters, quarter-wave on 40 meters)
  • EARCHI matchbox on 20m
  • BNC-to-binding-post adapter and a single radial 4’ AGL on 40m
  • KX3 at 12 watts
  • AA power wand

I can switch from 20m to 40m in about 2 minutes. Most of that time is spent in untangling from my earphones and standing up! The only thing I plan to add is an iambic paddle, once my CW is ready for prime time.

I was nervous about propagation. Before leaving home in the morning, the forecast was for poor propagation on 40 and fair on 20, with high noise and geomagnetic activity. G4ILO’s widget was predicting blackouts. When I activated, it might have been a little noisy, but it wasn’t bad. I made fewer QSOs than recent weekends, but since I called CQ at about 9:40 Eastern, that’s early for chasers to the west.

This hill will combine nicely with Sassafras Mountain (NG-040). I drove to that trailhead after activating Gooch, and it is only about 15 minutes away. I’d activated it earlier this year, so no double-header today. Some Forest Service roads in Georgia get gated from January to mid-March, but I saw no gates, so I’ll try and come back for the double-header in January/February.