Rocky Knob
Rocky Knob

It is always good to have a backup plan for a winter SOTA activation. Dennis, N4DD, Justin, KO4DCD, Matt, KQ4CCP, and I, Ron, NR3E, met at Ingles Market in south Kingsport on Saturday, December 30, 2023 for a summit trip to Mount Jefferson, W4C/EM-021. It is an eight point summit in a North Carolina State park in the town of West Jefferson, about twenty miles north of Boone, NC. But when we arrived at the park, we found a barricade across the road that leads to the summit. Apparently it had been closed due to weather.

So, we drove back to Boone and decided to activate Rocky Knob, W4C/EM-047, instead. Rocky Knob, instead of being the one quarter mile hike we had planned at our intended summit, was almost a mile. The area is a park for trail bike riders and we were able to take a walking trail part of the way but we reached a point where there were bike trails crisscrossing the mountain so we decided to bushwhack straight up the side from that point on. We got to the top without problems, other than the temperature which was at most 30 degrees and a brisk wind that was blowing at 20 mph or more at times.

On the summit, there was enough room for us to spread out. Matt set up his Xiegu x6100 into an end fed antenna. Justin brought his Icom 705 with and end fed antenna and found a partially sheltered area next to a rock wall. Dennis went to the summit proper and threw an end fed antenna up into a tree and fed it into a Yaesu FT-857D. I sat up right in the trail, since there was zero chance of a bike rider showing up (the trails were closed to bike traffic for the winter), and also used an end fed into my Elecraft KX2.

Band conditions were actually pretty good, but we did not linger long due to the weather. After about 45 minutes in that cold wind, everyone was ready to pack up and head off the mountain. All four of us got plenty of contacts. Dennis got the most for the day at 40, working 20 and 17 meter CW. Matt did some SSB on 10 meters and made 8 contacts with 2 summit to summit. Justin worked 40 meter CW and got 11 while I worked 60 and 30 meters, ending up with 15. Our total for the day was 74, which isn't bad considering the weather. I am sure we could have doubled that if it was 70 degrees and sunny. Our hike off the mountain warmed us up a bit and by the time we got back to the parking lot, we were feeling much better.

Even though we had bitter cold, it was still a great outing, and an excellent way to wrap up the year of 2023. Next year there will be even more fun.

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