This morning I went to Gualala Mountain - W6/NC-235 - this is a drive up summit. I had not been on a summit for a while and needed a quick/easy SOTA fix. I have been to this summit in 2016 & 2017 with good experiences both times. But today I was skunked. I posted my alert and arrived at the planned time. My first indication that the bands were not going to cooperate was when RBNHole did not pick up my CQ’s. Thinking that this might just be a RBN problem I self spotted using SOTA Goat, Only one bar on AT&T but enough for self spotting.
My first spot at 1514 on 7.063, but nothing heard, then at 1520 on 10.113 - again nothing. Then at 1526 on 14.0615 and again nothing. I cycled through these bans with additional duplicate spots until my final self spot at 1728 on 5.332. Nada, nothing, zip, zilch, zero - wow! The cloud/mist got wetter and for a break I got into the car and used my 50W 2 M mobile on 146.52 (yes I know this was not SOTA but I wanted to talk to someone/anyone) and I texted my friend - he used 165 W and I copied him but my 50 W failed to make the trip.
I saw KX0R was on a summit so I chased him - George always has a great signal and he always copies me - but nothing - I followed his spots across the bands but heard nothing - the only station I heard was NW7E calling George; and I wished he was calling me because he was 599 at my location.
So, for the first time since my early days in SOTA I was completely skunked. My equipment seemed to be operating well, 12-15 W out from my KX3, low SWR; relatively quiet bands, no local noise - but no contacts.
On the drive home I contemplated getting the 100W Elecraft Amp - but wondered, with conditions like these would the amp have made a difference?
In the early days I was skunked when I only carries a 5W HT; but never before skunked using HF!