On Saturday, October 8, 2022, at 9:00 a.m., Matt, KQ4CCP, Seth, KQ4AKR, Justin, KO4DCD, and Ron, NR3E, met at the Dairy Queen in Kingsport for breakfast and a planned SOTA activation to Black Mountain (W4K/EC-001) in Kentucky, the highest summit in the state. After breakfast, the four drove to the nearby Walmart Neighborhood Market to meet Gary, KE4SCJ, Roy, KJ4YSY, and Scott, KJ4ADS. There the seven loaded up in two vehicles and headed north on U.S. 23 to the summit.
The route led them through Weber City, Gate City, Duffield, Big Stone Gap, and Appalachia and up a curvy mountain highway to the access road of the summit. The access road was gravel and dirt with a few rough spots, but both vehicles made it without problems, although slow going was the key. The crew arrived at the summit at about 11:30 and since the summit was a drive-up, they were able to park near their activation locations.
Roy and Gary set up a Yaesu FT-817 with an end fed antenna. Justin and Scott also set up a Yaesu FT-817 and an end fed antenna. Seth, Matt, and Ron set up an Elecraft KX-2 with a third end fed antenna. Fortunately there was enough room on the summit for everyone to spread out. Roy and Gary used the tune and pounce method to make contacts, working SSB and fighting a busy 40 meter band; Justin and Scott spotted themselves on the SOTA website and worked HF CW. Ron sent spots out for Seth while he worked HF SSB as Matt logged for him. After Seth finished, Ron worked some CW on HF. Overall, conditions were good and contacts were made on 60 through 10 meters.
After Seth and Ron finished with the KX2, Matt threw up a Slim Jim antenna in a tree and called on two meter FM. In short order, he got four contacts and by doing so completed his very first SOTA activation. It was easy to tell when he got the fourth contact by the grin on his face. He said he really enjoyed it and plans to activate some more summits. Remember, Matt, once you start it is almost impossible to quit.
After a couple of hours, everyone had made plenty of contacts so the group packed up and prepared to drive off the the mountain. In total they made 52 contacts with two DX. Seth made the most of the day at 14. Justin made one of the two DX contacts to our friend Chris, F4WBN, in France on 17 meter CW. Scott made the longest DX contact of the day to Argentina to LW2DO, a distance of about 5066 miles on 10 meter CW. Today's activation was only his second and he is certainly getting a good start.
The weather for the day started out a bit cool with the temperature in the upper 40s, but the sky was clear with bright sunshine. As the afternoon progressed, the sun warmed everything up nicely and most everyone took off their top coats. Seth was even seen walking around in a T-shirt.
On the drive off the mountain the group stopped just outside the access road along the highway for a few moments to view the old strip mine and the distant mountains that were visible from the lookout area. It was a great way to end a very successful activation. The next SOTA trip will be to Paint Mountain, south of Greeneville, Tennessee, on November 12. This particular summit will require a mile long hike. More information will follow later.