My son is nearly 8 months old and I’ve had neither the opportunity, nor a cooperating schedule since he’s been born to either get out in the woods or even contemplate completing a Summits On The Air activation. Knowing it would be sunny and clear skies, I decided I would brave the cold temperatures (< 40deg F) and constant breeze for an opportunity to play radio at the top of a local mountain.
So with the help of K4KPK’s Vineyard Mountain SOTA Guide, I selected Vineyard Mountain outside Cartersville, GA for my first stop.
Getting There – Driving
Interstate 75 North out of Atlanta.
Exit Red Top Mountain Road and turn Right (East).
Turn Left on Somerset Lane.
Keep Right all the way to the top.
The Village at Waterside is a gated neighborhood with road access to the top of this mountain. The gate was open, so I decided to take the easy route. You can drive all the way to the top of this mountain, where there is a large cul-de-sac, from which a gravel road to the radio tower and a paved road to a water tower continue. The cul-de-sac is too close to the summit in vertical height to provide a legal activation of this mountain, so you will need to hike down partially and back up or park lower along the street.
Getting There – Hiking
I chose to park just off the road below the house under construction at the top approximately 150 vertical feet below the summit. Contractors were currently constructing a house near the top, which is almost complete, but they didn’t pay me any attention. I walked up the paved street and followed the gravel road to the base of the antenna tower where I set up my station near a stump.
NorCal Doublet made from 22ga speaker wire, hung as high and straight as I could manually toss it in the trees.
I had steady 3G service (Verizon) here so I self-spotted via the SOTA Goat app. The idea was that I would start on 40m and work my way down to 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m & 10m. 10m was all noise and I didn’t hang out there long enough to make any contacts. As with previous SOTA summits, I picked up the majority of my contacts on 20m. After scoring a few QSOs on 15m, I was run off by a QRO station operating on the same frequency. I believe the guy knew I was there as there were other stations actively calling me — but he kept on calling CQ; The jerk. I like to operate some of the less popular bands simply because I never know what I’ll find (like that, you could say). I heard EA2LU (Spain) call me on 12m right at the noise level and he copied my callsign but the QSO fell apart before we could exchange signal reports. That was a real bummer.
It was great to hear from many of the regulars that I’d had QSOs with on previous SOTA activations. I know I can always count on these guys (and gals!) to make the trip worth-while, even if I drive most of the way up. 🙂 Thanks for always making it worth the effort, even in less-than-idea weather!
IT WAS COLD. I believe the high 30s are the lower bounds of my operating limits as I kept the coat on and wore gloves for the duration of my visit. Luckily I was on the calm side of the mountain so I didn’t receive too much of a breeze. The red blaze trail (if you were actually hiking up this mountain) ran right past where I had set up but I didn’t see any other hikers until after I had just about packed my bags.