I started the day with grand plans…a dual activation of http://www.sotawatch.org/summits.php?summit=W2/GC-118
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 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.