Elk Knob
Elk Knob

If the thought of a cold wind can send a chill through your bones, then read on. On Saturday morning, members of the Kingsport Amateur Radio club met at Bob Evans restaurant in Johnson City for their monthly SOTA outing. The goal of the day was to activate Elk Knob, W4C/EM-005, southeast of Mountain City, TN and just into North Carolina. Breakfast, as usual, went well and we departed the restaurant at about 9:30 for our hour and a half drive to the trailhead.

The drive was uneventful but what we did not anticipate was that the fall leaves were nearing peak and everyone within a three hour drive of Elk Knob showed up to view the colors. Law enforcement was on hand to assist with parking and we were able to take the last spot in the lot, but soon after our arrival cars had to park along the road. The crowd did not deter us and we started grabbing our packs and equipment for the almost two mile hike to the summit. As we were getting ready, we could feel a brisk wind; more on that later.

Our hike to the summit was pleasant even though we had to give way on the trail for lots of people that had been to the top and were hiking back down. We were somewhat sheltered due to the trees, but when we arrived at the summit, we found that the tallest trees, if you can call them that, were no more than six or eight feet high. The skies were clear, but the temperature was in the low 40s with very gusty winds of 30 to 40 mph. That combination made for a cold and adventurous day.

Justin, Dennis, and Matt found a place near the south overlook on a service road and set up a two meter station with a Slim Jim antenna. Patrick and Ron huddled in amongst the brush near the north overlook and set up an end fed for HF. The antenna was no more than seven feet above the ground and horizontal for most of it's length. The guys working two meters quickly made contacts after which Dennis and Justin worked some HF CW. Meanwhile, Patrick and Ron worked some CW on several bands and did well, even with an antenna no higher than what it was. Of course, the 5520 foot elevation helped.

Nearly frozen from the wind, everyone packed up after staying on the summit for about an hour and a half. Our hike down warmed us up a bit as we once again entered the shelter of the forest and had the sun shining on us. In the end we made 77contacts for the day with 1 DX to Spain. The next monthly club trip will be to Barnett Knob, near Cherokee, NC, on November 18, 2023. More information will follow later.

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