Saturday was my first wet activation. Dave, W2VV came along and after some research found an even easier path up. We drove down the well rutted Oakwood trail road, and I was very happy to be in my 1987 Corolla, worth somewhat less then my GPS, and we avoided rocks, holes and mud. There was a steady rain and about 45F degrees.
I had picked up Dave at my local train stop about 30 miles north of New York City…Dave had already spent about 1.5 hours coming to this point. Next Dave and I drove about an hour to the base of the summit, with a stopoff at a fast food resturant along the New York State Thruway for Dave to have breakfast.
Hiking up a paved road and to the crest seemed easy enough, but the clouds were low and the rain was cold. This was our first time on the mountain and about half way there I got turned around in the fog and maze of trails through scrub and brush…every direction looked the same. There were several vertical 10ft+ climbs up rockfaces, but the rocks were not slippery despite being wet. Many rocks had the most peculiar green lichen on them.
We found several false summits, but pressed on to the designated spot, painted with a 1664 foot label on the rocks. Dave immediately went to setting up his buddipole and new 21 foot mast while I started calling on 2m SSB. My first set of AA NiMH cells were too cold to keep their voltage up, but my second set were alright (latter as temps increased the first set was also used). My hands quickly went almost completely numb in the cold, wet and windy conditions at the summit…this limited my spotting.
Even though we spotted ourselves eventually, put freq info on APRS and even tried a sked with KC2EUS, we did not work anyone specifically looking for a SOTA contact. The frequencies we operated were open to Europe, so I was particularly disappointed that we worked no Europeans specifically looking for a SOTA contact. My log included 2 Europeans, but Dave worked more as he was focused on HF. 60m was open to Europe, but the UK stations we heard were a bit too weak to work.
Dave did hear a station talking to Joe on his Segway (yes, there is a guy named Joe who works HF from his Segway), we were not able to hear Joe at all.
I setup my portable magnetic loop, but it did not perform as well as my PAC-12 antenna or Dave’s buddipole.
Within an hour of us reaching the peak, the rain stopped and the clouds began to part. The eye level clouds faded away and a beautiful view to the west opened up as well as a view of the Hudson to the north and east. Although the cold wind did not really let up, after seeking shelter against a rock at the peak, my hands recovered enough to do extra things like spotting.
I think the most notable contact for me was working into Boston (W1RZF) about 200 miles away on 2m SSB with 5w to my Arrow yagi antenna, although working Guantanamo Bay and onto Long Island on 70cm SSB was interesting as well. I have to update my log with the 70cm contact once I get the callsign from Dave as I had my hands full when I made that contact with my ft-817 and arrow antenna.
After the activation Dave and I met my wife at our favorate Indian resturant in Nyack, NY-Spice of India…we made it there just before the ktichen closed. After that I drove Dave back to the train stop near my home and waited the 45 min with him for his train home.
A good time was had by all, but we were both surprisingly tired…
Pictures and video to follow soon on the SOTA youtube and flikr areas