Monday, June 26, 2017

W6/NC-277 Bills Hill

The forecast was for a very hot day, so I got up early to get on the trail before it got too hot. I left the trailhead at Hunting Hollow at 6:30 and made my way to the Bills Hill Trail. The Bills Hill Trail is not maintained, and the start is marked by a cairn. The cairn was so small I didn't see it in the grass, even though I was looking for it.
Would you have seen the cairn an flagging tape marking the trailhead?
Luckily there is a junction 0.1 miles past the turnoff, so I was able to turn around and find the correct place. The trail is very overgrown with lots of poison oak. I also got a number of ticks on me as I climbed. Not the most pleasant ascent I've done. Someone had left green flagging tape marking the route on some of the harder to follow sections.
Lots of poison oak.
Parts of the trail are along an abandoned road, farther up the hill. At the ridge there is a barbed wire fence. Turn left, and follow the fence uphill to the summit. The summit is on the other side of the fence, so cross it when you find a good spot. There is an old road near the summit which I followed for the last quarter mile or so. At the top there are views to the south and west, and a few trees in the activation zone.
The valleys were still filled with fog.
I set up my mag loop and KX3 and got on 20 meters. I had some trouble tuning the antenna for a low SWR, but eventually I got it under 3:1. There was good service at the top, and I was able to self spot with no trouble. I made a few contacts on 20, then moved up to 17 where I made one. A few calls on VHF/UHF resulting in a short conversation with a mobile on 2 meters. By this point it had been about 30 minutes, and I wanted to get over to Kickham Peak before it got too hot, so I packed up and headed out. To get tho Kickham, I continued along the ridge, and followed it down to the saddle where it meets the Hunting Hollow Road again. This was much more pleasant than the route up, less poison oak, fewer ticks, easier to follow. I would recommend using this route to go up and down. There was even a gap in the fence in the saddle where I rejoined the trail!
Early morning on the way up.

Trailhead: Hunting Hollow Entrance.
Website: SOTA Site.
Maps: KB1KXL SOTA Hikes map. The Pine Ridge Association sells maps of the park.
Route: I took Hunting Hollow Road to Bills Hill Trail. A better way would be to take Hunting Hollow Road to the height of land, then turn right and follow the ridge up to the summit. Some sections have herd paths, but the ridge/vegetation boundary was easy to follow.
Red Tape: None. I would recommend being comfortable with off-trail hiking.

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