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Smoky Mountains NP 5 Mtn Run 'n Radio - May 19th


Next month, my wife and I are going to try a little SOTA adventure in the Smokies. The plan is to take an early morning shuttle from Cosby campground to Newfound Gap trailhead and then trot back to Cosby via the AT. Along the way I’ll try to activate these mountains (all 10pts):

Mount Kephart W4T/SU-006
Laurel Top W4T/SU-007
Mount Chapman W4T/SU-004
Mount Guyot W4T/SU-002
Cammerer Ridge W4T/SU-012

Because we’re slow and there’s only so much daylight, Guyot and Cammerer Ridge are going to be dependent on our cdx and the time. If we do it all, the total route will be ~31mi with 9000ft of elevation gain.

If we’re pressed for time, we’ll skip Guyot (the bushwack takes as long as an activation). If we’re too whooped, we’ll do Guyot and skip Cammerer, shaving off a few miles. If we’re short on time and whooped we’ll just whine to ourselves and carry on.

I figure that I have about 30 total minutes at each summit, so that is 25min QRV. Rather than divide that time amongst bands, I am considering working one band per stop: 40, 30, 20, 40, 30. I can usually get everyone on one band logged in under 30min.

My questions for the group:

  1. Does the one band per summit sound reasonable/good?
  2. Locals, last time I was there I got zero bites using 2m simplex. Is it worth even bringing the HT? I would call cq on 2m at every summit while setting up if I thought someone would be monitoring the calling freq.
  3. We’ll be on the trail about 45 min before sunrise. That will put out first stop at 7:30amEST (1130z) or so, which is early. I have great faith in chasers, but given the closeness to the east coast, lots of my 40m signal is going to be warming the Atlantic Ocean. If anyone is reasonably sure you’ll be listening, could you PM me? If nothing else it would be nice to know there may be someone out there.
  4. I plan to use the placeholder alert “W4T/SU-???” with S-2 S+14 and then list the summit refs in the alert details. My question is how the chasers would like the ref sent. Say every two QSOs, let the pileup get quiet and then send “ref W4T/SU-006” etc? I usually send the ref whenever I think of it, and it’s usually when there’s a bit of a lull. I don’t think that will work in this case as people won’t have a spot to refer to.
  5. Anything else I am missing?

One band per summit is certainly acceptable. You are the activator and you do what works for you. The chasers are sitting comfy in a shack (usually), but you are on a schedule and working hard. By changing the bands around at each stop you are spreading the wealth.

I’m not a local, can’t help you there.

I recently activated that early for the S2S day we had and really struggled to get contacts here in PA. Perhaps try 80m or 60m for your first summit, you will be most likely to get people in the east who are awake!

For summit reference if you can self spot using SMS or data on your cell phone, then that is probably the best. Then you don’t need to include the reference more than one or twice. I usually include the reference at the end of a qso, so n0map u r 559 559 on W3/PW-004 bk . After that first time I generally don’t repeat it unless asked.

If you include 80m I would go

80 40 30 20 40
80 40 20 20 40

for bands. It usually takes me much longer on 30m to get 4 qsos than 40 or 20 and don’t have an issue leaving it out.

Thanks Evan. I actually saw your report and that was making me wonder about exactly this. I wasn’t planning on using 80m, but I am really concerned that at that time 40m may still be so long that it’s basically hitting the middle of the US (that’s likely still asleep) and the ocean. If there’s one that I can’t activate, it’s likely going to be the first one.

Recently, 30m has become my #2 band for most QSOs. I suspect our different experiences have to do with our locations, but that’s instructive as I will be prepared to ditch it for another band if it’s empty.

I very likely will not be able to self spot via SMS. I know around Mount Guyot I had zero service even on the summit. So it’ll be lots of ref sending I guess.

What will you be using for an antenna? Obviously you’re hoping to erect it quickly. I would tend to favor 30m.

I would go easy on repeating the ref if you have many callers, especially once it gets spotted.

31 miles with 9000ft elevation gain is pretty epic. Not sure it’s possible if you are truly “slow.” Me thinks 20-25 miles would be a more reasonable target.

73, Barry N1EU

I’m going with “don’t change anything” mentality so I’m going to use my trusty 41’ EFW into the 9:1 unun which is also a winder (thanks @DK3IT!). I can have it set up and be on the air in <5min.

Nothing is certain in the mountains, of course! I’ve run a few 50ks with similar elevation gain, though, in plenty enough time to add 2.5hrs of playing radio and still get back before it’s too late.

I missed that you were running - sounds great! Sounds like something I’ve always wanted to do on summer solstice, like the Devil’s Path in the Catskills (24mi, 8500ft gain) with its 6 summits (including spur to Hunter Mtn).

I just read what I wrote and it sounds more cavalier than I meant. It’ll be tough and, most importantly, we have a bailout option that makes it a much more sedate 24mi if we want to exchange miles for beers. If we do the whole thing I am assuming it’ll take us 12-13hrs of moving plus the 2.5 of radio. I am actually a little concerned that the radio stops will be less a break and more a chance to get “stove up” as they say in that neck of the woods :grinning:

Oh wow I didn’t know about that one. Adding it to the list.

oops, I mis-counted, Devil’s Path has 6 W2/GC summits: 059, 058, 007, 006, 002, 004 (averaging 8 pts each)

I was also worried when you said you were “slow”. A slow trail runner is a fast hiker though!

The Great Range Traverse in the Adirondacks is another hike occasionally done in one day as a trail run (usually a 2 day backpackers trip) that you may be interested in.

25 miles and 10 mountains (not all count for SOTA) with ~10,000 vertical ft.

SOTA Summits are (W2/GA 371, 364, 363 (no sota activations yet), 361, and 001. 50 points (10 each). There are options if you are behind to bail out after almost every summit. If you are interested take the trip out this fall for the Adirondack gathering I’m planning.

As for the Smoky Mountain trip I’ll try chasing from home, 40m or 30m will be best depending on conditions. Good Luck!

This post contains the most up-to-date info on our schedule (last edited 05-16-18)

Summits, ETA QRV, Freq (+alternate)

  1. Mount Kephart W4T/SU-006 1100z, 5332khz** (7062khz)
  2. Laurel Top W4T/SU-007 1330z, 7062khz (5332khz**)
  3. Mount Chapman W4T/SU-004 1645z, 14062khz (7062khz)
  4. Mount Guyot W4T/SU-002 1815z, 14062khz (10127khz)
  5. Cammerer Ridge W4T/SU-012 2230z, 10127khz (7062khz)

**If the first 60m channel is busy I’ll check each of the others before QSY to 40m: 5348, 5358.5, 5373, 5405)

A map of our intended route is here.

We will likely not have service for self-spotting. Please spot us if you hear us.

We’ll be getting on the trail by 0600 local. I’ve tried to make a good estimate of QRV times, but much will depend on cdx. I have allotted 30 min per summit for all radio activity, which will mean about 25min time on-air. I plan to stick to that even if it means a failed activation as the further we get off schedule, the greater the chances of later ones not working I think.

Allison KD9JOK will be carrying an HT and will try to cq’ing on 146.52 as well as hitting up the the local SOTA repeater for spotting help etc. She’s been with me on most of my SOTA activations so far, but this will be the first time she’ll be running a mic!

I’ve posted my alert for the day. If someone could take a look and double check me, that would be great. I’ll send the summit ref at least at the first call and when I go QRT.

If there’s anything else I should add to this post to help chasers out etc, please let me know. Otherwise wish us luck!

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Sounds like a great trip Joe!

Damn you guys have it easy out there. Here in W7W, you can’t get anywhere near a 10 point peak until summer, and most require an ice axe, crampons, and mountaineering skillz.

6000’ peaks that take ALL DAY to hike up are only worth 6 points here. There are a few easier ones here and there, but not many. =)

Ya’ll have fun out there and be safe!



When I was just out there, I saw first hand that you speak the truth! My first order of biz was “okay where’s the closest 10pters?!” They were all very well buried in snow for sure. I’m fine with that (I’d actually rather do them in the snow than in the summer with rockfall and slogging through mud) but that’s not the kind of thing you just do one morning on a whim. There is zero doubt that you have to work more for the points out there.

ON THE OTHER HAND :grinning: I will trade you 1k miles r/t of driving to get to 10pt mountains for a bazillion 1pters within 50 miles of home any day of the week! I could activate every weekend for years on unique mountains within 2 hrs of my parents’ QTH easily. It’s like heaven.

I’m brewing plans to head back that way in August to either do Mt. Laughlin or (I hope!) Mt. Shasta. I spent a lot of time looking at Shasta as a kid and I’d love to give it a shot.

Alrighty, QRV at base camp (aka a cabin in Cosby) now and getting gear in order. Wx forecast is standard SMNP material: pouring rain and mild temps. I’ll likely be beeping at y’all from inside a bothy bag. The mountains are calling and we can’t wait to be up in them. Hope to talk to you from the top(s) tomorrow!

Joe // N0MAP

We’re down and safe. What a day. I miscalculated mileage (or forgot to include the three bushwack mileage or something) but we could see we were going to do 30 mi even skipping Cammerer. So we skipped it – sorry if you were waiting!

We had a hoot. Report later.

So many thanks to the chasers! I called cq first thing in the morning on 60m and had a pileup. Knowing people were listening really got us through some rough points (bothy bag activations are not what they’re cracked up to be).

Joe // N0MAP

Nice trip!

I have been thinking of doing a backpacking trip and hitting the south half of the park via the AT (Newfound Gap down to Fontana Dam) and hitting the summits along the way. I am thinking I need an accomplice for that and am working on some of my backpacking usual suspects. The trick will be convincing them to carry some radio gear. LOL

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