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Obnoxious Bears and Gatemen

I started the day with grand plans…a dual activation of http://www.sotawatch.org/summits.php?summit=W2/GC-118
(Sky Top)
and http://www.sotawatch.org/summits.php?summit=W1/MB-001
(Mt Greylock)
with a heck of a lot of driving in between all on my own.

One thing led to another, and I started out much later then I thought I would. The drive too was longer then expected…all this was no worry as I had confirmed with the Mohonk Mountain House by phone that the Sky Top summit was open to hikers until sunset, and Mt Greylock summit/parking lot was supposed to be open 24 hours according to the staff at the visitors’ center when I called in.

It was more then 1.5 hours of driving until I got to Sky Top from my home…

When I finally got to the gatehouse of the Sky Top property (Mt Mohonk Mountain House), I was met by a most obnoxious young man who was clearly perturbed that I was there. I asked him how close I could get my car to the summit, and he said this was as far as I could go…he then added that if it were open hours that it would cost me $25 to hike there but now the grounds were closed…but what I really can’t convey in words is the look on his face and his tone of voice…it was as if the likes of me could not possibly afford $25. This was a bit of an odd reaction as I was driving my brand new 2010 Subaru and was clean cut in my appearence…it wasn’t as if I was in a rusting out old jalopy and had only three teeth or something…not that anything would have justified his attitude. There were no antennas on the car or anything…

In any event, I told him that the grounds were supposed to be open until dusk…to which I got back “well who told you that” in the most sarcastic tone imaginable. When I told him that the staff who answered the phone told me that he just stared at me.

I thought this was a good time to drive away.

Off to the second summit…
It was another 2.5 hour drive to Mt Greylock. I had confirmed with the staff by phone that the summit was open 24 hours, so I was shocked to find a sign at the summit stating that the summit closed .5 hours after sunset…not good as I had yet to hike down and up my 100 feet to be official and it was already around 8pm (sunset at 8:30pm).

I hiked down and up the required 100 vertical feet (a W1 association requirement), and then got on 2m ssb as quickly as possible.

Every last station I talked to on 2m ssb told me about the amazing sporadic E opening I had just missed…which of course was frustrating…but thankfully many stations were still looking for the opening and I got to work a bunch of them in quick succession. I don’t think I have ever worked 4 stations faster on 2m ssb then I did today.

A ham and his wife who had just had dinner at the summit and were enjoying the view approached and checked out my gear…it’s so nice to have a visitor who did not think I was talking to aliens or tracking bats :wink: We discussed the upcoming June ARRL VHF/UHF contest as the ham was to be an operator on the W2SZ team which competes from the summit.

Before shutting down half an hour after sunset, I worked a few stations on 6m ssb…there was no time to setup HF.

As I packed my gear into the car for the drive home, I don’t know why but I felt rushed…I felt somehow that it was not safe to be at the summit…I can’t explain it…the summit did not look like a dangerous area and although it was a bit windy and dark the weather was no threat. There were no bear threat signs…

In any event I started driving down the summit as soon as I could.

About 500 vertical feet below the summit something appeared in the road in front of me as I was driving…A BLACK BEAR. He was heading in the same direction I was and was about 20 feet in front of me in the opposite lane. The bear turned his head to take a look at my car and then continued on just as slowly as before…now in my lane. I followed behind the bear in my car for about 5 min when I decided that I couldn’t drive the whole 20+ miles of rural country (I had another 3 hours’ drive home as well) at this pace and thought perhaps I could pass the bear in the other lane of the narrow road…

As soon as I gunned the engine, the bear turned his head and took two quick steps in my direction…that was enough for me not to try passing him…just like the Gateman at Sky Top, this bear had an attitude!

I followed for another 5 min at an agonizing pace when I decided to try honking the horn. Amazingly although the bear was not concerned by my car or its headlights or the 5 or so cars behind me, the bear took off like a rocket into the woods as soon as I just tapped my horn.

So that was the day’s adventure…my first close encounter with a free bear and my first encounter with someone who thought I did not have $25 to my name…all in one day.

Unfortunatley none of today’s adventures were captured by my camera which was inadvertently soaked by my wife earlier at home…let’s see if it works when it dries out.

73,
Tom-N2YTF

In reply to N2YTF:
Tom,
If you’d waited until 1am at Mt Greylock we could have met each other …lol.
I’m in North Adams working tonight. Sorry I missed you on 2m. My phone was going nuts with all the E’s Alerts from the DX Robot, But I needed to grab some sleep before the drive here… At least you had fun … right ?? :slight_smile:

Andrew - K1YMI

In reply to K1YMI:
Yeah I thought about giving you a ring when I realized that you must live pretty close to these summits and that Sky Top was a no go.

It was a great day really, and Mt Greylock is beautiful! My first long drive in the new car too…

It was a riot how each guy I worked on 2m ssb raved about the opening I missed and what a shame it was that I missed it…it was actually pretty funny after the 3rd guy…it must have been one heck of an opening!

My wife wants to check out Greylock (although I don’t think she would hike after this), and there is a hotel and resturant at the summit…perhaps one day I will return with her and you will join us…

73,
Tom-N2YTF

In reply to N2YTF:

No Black Bears in the UK but we have that gate-man’s clones by the hundreds ;0)

Better luck next time.

Regards Steve GW7AAV

In reply to GW7AAV:
Up here in GM there have been many reported sightings of large black cats(pumas not domestics hi)

Adrian

In reply to 2M0ETR:

Our mountain bares are scary too:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3376521.stm

73

Richard
G3CWI

In reply to G3CWI:

Yep, a naked ex-Royal Marine sounds scary to me.

73,
Colin.

In reply to N2YTF:
I hope you enjoyed your bear encounter Tom. Many people pay good money for such an adrenaline rush…
Running into bears is almost a guarantee in the Sierra Nevada mountains and the mountains of northern Ca. Having been literally face-to-face on a few occasions, I view them to be slightly more danger than a deer, and less dangerous than your local moose population.
The only sure way to avoid bear sightings is to get yourself a hunting license and a bear tag. You will then not see another, guaranteed.

In reply to G3CWI:
Hi Richard, i know of Mr Gough, it states “The former Royal Marine alleged that he got a warm reception in Evanton.” This is only a few miles from my QTH and i seen him in all his glory setting up a tent just off the road on the way to my house. That said i think he was arrested a few days after and has had many problems with the police since. I dont wish to pass judgment on what he is trying to do, but rather the fact the money that is costing to keep him locked up, and the hours wasted by our judicial system is ludicrous. Thats my 2c worth.

Back on topic it must have been frightening to have this black bear in-front of you, and trying to anticipate it’s next move.

Is there any Summits in G/GM/GI/GW etc etc etc that can be driven up with or without permission?

73

Adrian

In reply to 2M0ETR:

Is there any Summits in G/GM/GI/GW etc etc etc that can be driven up
with or without permission?

73

Adrian

Rombalds Moor
Win Green
Bishop Wilton Wold
To name but three :slight_smile:

Roger G4OWG

Had plenty of bear “contacts” while cruising the Canadian Rockies. Even one lurking around our camper on a campground while I was outside. Nothing to fear about if you stick to the general rules, I think.

In reply to 2M0ETR:

Mynyd Rhiw NW-064
Great Orme NW-070
Cyrn-y-Brain NW-043 (needs permission plus key to gate)
Cyrniau Nod NW-034 (needs permission from Forestry Commission)

There’s lots in GM but whether you’d get permission is another matter. I’ll have a look at making a list.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to 2M0ETR:

http://www.burtonarc.co.uk/SOTA_easy.htm

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:
Thanks guys, not really planning doing it but good info none the less.

Adrian

Our mountain bares are scary too:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3376521.stm

73

Richard
G3CWI

In reply to G3CWI:

Oh that is too funny! I know some hikers are always looking to save some weight on hikes but there is some equipment I consider absolutely essential.

73,
Tom

In reply to N2YTF:

You have to hate when things just dont go “right”…

Bummer about the whole trip you had planned, would have been two nice summits had you had the time to just mellow and relax and enjoy the fun.

Yeah, Mohawk or honk, whatever that one is you wanted to do first. they are a royal jerkface community up there. The hotel is a 500 dollar a night stay for the super elite. I used to go hiking up there as a kid on school trips and the staff never seemed nice even then.

In reply to N2YTF:

I think the bear was doing what it does naturally, it’s hard to blame its genes. The gate man, well we have a name for them in the UK, Jobsworths. They officiously make sure that the letter of regulations are obeyed (by everyone but them) and delight it making life for hard for people from which they derive copious amounts of enjoyment.

Why Jobsworth? Well it comes from a typical answer a Jobsworth gives when you request politely that they accommodate you and open gates/don’t clamp your car/stamp the required form etc.

“I can’t do that mate… it’s more than my job’s worth!”

Of course they can do what you ask of them with no consequence at all. But as small men in positions of power they love to wield their authority. You cannot reason with a Jobsworth ever! Arguing with a Jobsworth is like wrestling with a pig, you’ll both get dirty and the pig likes it!

:wink:

Andy
MM0FMF