Thursday, December 6, 2018

W4C/WP-011 Crowders Mountain

After my wet activation of The Pinnacle, I headed over to Crowders Mountain. From the visitors center, I took the Crowders Trail through the open forest. It crossed a few small streams, all of which had bridges. The trail crosses a busy paved road, but there is a crosswalk with flashing lights.
Bottom of the climb.
On the other side of the road I decided to take the Rocktop Trail up to the summit. This trail climbs up to the crest of the ridge and follows it to the summit. There were more signs warning of the danger, but it didn't seem dangerous to me.
Hiking along the ridge top.
It was a pleasant hike along the ridge. Near the summit the trail ends and joins the access road, which goes up to the summit. I saw a lot more people on this section, but still relatively few. I walked around the towers to the high point, the came back to the flat area near the trash cans to set up.
Plenty of RF on the summit.
I had good cell service for spotting. This time I worked 20, 40 and 60, to try and get the DX and the locals. It wasn't raining, but the wind was blowing water off the trees so it seemed like it was.
Rock jutting out into the forest at the top.
I was still pretty wet from the earlier downpour coming down from the Pinnacle, so after a little while in the wind I started getting cold. People had stopped calling me, so I just packed up and headed down. I warmed up again quickly as I retraced my steps. As I was about to head down the ridge the clouds started to lift a little. I could see some hills, but no stunning views.
The best view I had all day.
Back at the car I headed out for the long drive back.

Trailhead: Crowders Mountain SP Visitors Center
Website: SOTA SiteSP site
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Crowders Trail to the Rocktop Trail. Plenty of other trails if you want to make a loop.
Red Tape: None. Parking lot may fill up on nice days.

W4C/WP-010 The Pinnacle

After my quick activation of Anderson Mountain I headed down to Crowders Mountain SP to get the two summits there. The rain seemed like it was getting lighter, and I was happy to see that. Arriving at the park, I parked in the lot at the visitors center.
Start of the trail, looking back at the visitor center.
This park gets a lot of use, and the trails are well marked and well worn. I took the Pinnacle Trail up to the summit. I only saw about a dozen people on my way up.
Ascending through the misty woods.
The trail ends just below the summit with a big scary sign. This area appears to be the bottom of the activation zone, if you don't like scrambling. I like it, so I continued up past the sign to the narrow, rocky ridge.
Sign at the end of the trail.
I hiked up to the high point, then backtracked to a small flat area I had passed. I setup the antenna here, and sat down on the lee side of the ridge. I had good cell service, and had no trouble spotting. Sadly, just as I was finishing with the antenna, the rain started again. It was light, but I made it a shorter activation that I would have liked.
Looking towards the high point.
The highlight was getting an English station on 20. After working everyone on 20 and 40, I packed up. I had a limited amount of time before I had to get back to work that evening. I took the same trail to get down. On the way it poured on me for a few minutes, soaking me.
Soaking wet but still happy.
Back at the junction near the parking lot, I continued straight to head over to Crowders Mountain.

Trailhead: Crowders Mountain SP Visitors Center
Website: SOTA SiteSP site
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Take the Pinnacle Trail to the top.
Red Tape: None. Parking lot may fill up on nice days.
Marker at the summit.

Monday, December 3, 2018

W4C/WP-012 Anderson Mountain

To quote the W4C association manager Pat, KI4SVM, "Anderson is a drive-up with no other redeeming qualities." This perfectly describes the mountain. It is easy to get to, at the top of Tower Road, right off of  Route 16. The road to the top get a bit rough in places, but is passable in any car.
Antenna setup on the summit.
I found a pullout on top, and set up next to the car. There was great cell service. It was raining lightly, so I didn't spend much time on top. I also wanted to leave enough time for the more interesting mountains I had planned for the day, Crowders Mounain and The Pinnacle. It was too foggy for there to be a view, but I don't think there'd be one even on a clear day. Now that I've done this summit, I never have to come back.

Trailhead: Top of Tower Road off of route 16.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Drive up to the top and setup.
Red Tape: None.

W4C/EP-004 Flat Shoal Mountain

After hiking down from Moores Knob I drove around to an undeveloped part of Hanging Rock SP to activate this peak. I parked in a pullout at the sharp bend on Young Road, under the power lines. There was a use trail that went under the lines. I followed it a short distance, but it quickly became obvious that it wouldn't take me up to the peak.
Under the power lines.
After crossing the deep gully I turned and headed straight up the hill. The forest was open, and it was easy going. The hill gets a bit steeper near the top, but nothing too crazy. Once I made it to the top of the ridge I simply followed it to the summit.
Walking along the ridge.
This area burned a few years ago, and there were lots of blackened logs. Any brushy areas on the ridge were easy to go around. Near the top were some neat rock formations. The ridge at the summit is fairly narrow, so I probably got a lot of help with propagation from there.
Cliff near the summit.
I had cell service on this peak. On 20m I was called by EA2LU, but I don't think he could hear me very well. As I was finishing up, it started to rain, so I quickly packed up and headed back down.
Standing on the summit, looking back the way I came up.
It was a light rain, and the hike back to the car was pleasant. I'm surprised this summit is activated more often. It is an easy hike, and you don't have to worry about crowds. I had the entire mountain to myself.

Trailhead: Bend in Young Road under the power lines.
Website: SOTA SiteState Park site
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Hike up to the ridge, then follow it to the summit.
Red Tape: None.
Almost back to the road.

W4C/EP-001 Moores Knob

I was back in North Carolina for work and had the day off, so the only thing to do was find some summits to activate. I picked out the two summits in Hanging Rock State Park, Moores Knob and Flat Shoal Mountain. First up was Moores Knob, which is also the county high point.
Start of the trail.
It was extremely foggy, but I eventually found my way to the visitors center parking lot. From here I followed the signs for the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST) towards the lake. The trail goes along the lake shore, with a small jog out to the road to get across the outlet stream. At the south end of the lake I took the trail up to the campground.
Small stream near the campground.
I was surprised to see some campers were there on such a dreary weekend. Near the traffic circle at the campground entrance is the trailhead for the Moores Wall Loop Trail, which goes up to the summit. The trail drops down and crosses a small stream, then starts climbing up. This trail obviously sees a lot of use, and there are a lot of stone steps.
Steps heading up in the fog.
I hadn't looked at the map too closely and thought there was a steep section just below the summit. It turns out that the trail is a constant grade all the way to the summit. The summit is at the end of a short spur that goes by balancing rock. On top I climbed up the tower to have a look around and enjoy the view before setting up.
Incredible views.
I found a spot that was relatively sheltered from the wind and put up my antenna. I didn't have any service on top, so I used RBN for spotting. I had no trouble getting contacts on 30 and 40. I didn't spend a lot of time on top because I wanted to leave enough time to get Flat Shoal Mountain before the rain started in the afternoon.
Balancing Rock.
I retraced my steps back to the parking lot. I saw a lot more people heading up. I imagine this trail can get very crowded on a nice day. Back at the car I headed over to Flat Shoal Mountain for my second summit of the day.

Trailhead: Hanging Rock SP visitors center parking lot. Starting at the lake parking lot is probably the same distance.
Website: SOTA SiteState Park site
Maps: AA6XA SOTA Hikes map.
Route: Hike over to the lake. Take the trail along the West side, then up to the campground. Take the Moores Wall Loop Trail up to the summit.
Red Tape: None.
Summit tower from my operating position.