With my meetings finished, and plans to catch up with friends in DC, I hatched a plan to encounter a bunch of different US associations on my way up to Washington. In one day, I could go from Raleigh to W4C/EM-058, detour by W4T/SU-022, have lunch, stop at W4V/GC-018, and finish the day at W4K/EC-022, before heading up to West Virginia to spend the night, before grabbing a W8V and a W3 summit on the way into Washington. It would require leaving Raleigh at 5 in the morning, but that was easy.
Instead, everything was foiled by three beers, two scotches and two alarms that were both slept through. That left me three hours late out of Raleigh – not insurmountable, but it mean W4K/EC-022 (Flatwoods) was probably out of the question. The others were still candidates, so I headed off. I dropped in on a Home Depot to grab some PVC tubing to fashion up a taller mast as well, and headed off, following the GPS to W4C/EM-058.
This unnamed summit is located on the opposite side of the road to the Mt Jefferson Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trip there is easy enough, and I made it at almost exactly the time I would have intended, but for the 3 hour delay bit. I hadn’t reckoned on the Polar Vortex that descended early and left the entire US freezing through the cold.
I parked in the overlook, grabbed my gear and cross the road, and tried to set up on that side of the road. The wind was unbelievable. The car was saying the outside temperature was barely above freezing, but with the wind, it was easily below that. I raised the PVC mast, antenna at the top, and watched the wind snatch each section off and send it down the road. In the process, it broke the 20m link, meaning I couldn’t put tension on the antenna in any way on one side. The landing onto the ground also smashed the balun enclosure. I tried again, with duct tape holding joints, and the tape just collapsed. The wind was just incredible.
I tried to put up the Frankenpole, and got about the same distance. Without tension on the antenna, and in the wind, the mast was detelescoping, and at one point, the wind acting on the wires alone was enough to rip the top section off the mast.
I gave up, strung out the dipole across two signs back on the overlook side, and tried to salvage the situation. I got nowhere. I could hear W4PH on a nearby summit, and tried to call him, but I could not get a signal across to him. I called CQ for a while, but the cold was bitter, and I wasn’t enjoying the situation at all. With a few conversations by SOTAWatch spots, I tried 12m, including accidentally setting up in the CW section of the band plan by mistake, and over W1AW whom I could not hear. I tried a few more minutes, but after an hour on the top, I realised it was a lost cause.
The next mountains were higher than the one I was one, I was way behind schedule now, and there was nothing for it but to give up, cancel the alerts and head off to my non-refundable hotel booking up in West Virginia.
The truly sad bit was that the Blue Ridge Parkway, on the drive out, was beautiful. With autumn leaves on the trees, ice on the side of the road from the cold, it was pretty. I was just too annoyed to try to take a photo. The next day I headed to DC and caught up with my friends, but this summit was a representative microcosm of my entire US trip this time around. I did get the third continent in the log courtesy of my one QSO on Shaupeneak Ridge, but I am still disappointed. I may have to fly down to Tasmania to get VK7 in the log, and maybe South Korea for the fourth continent 😉