Hello from near Atlanta GA in the States. After reading the Reflector for a few months, I am inspired to try to thank some unknown UK amateurs who inspired me to take up SOTA.
We are avid walkers (or “hikers” in US parlance), and in 2010 my XYL and I, joined by an old school chum and his XYL, decided to tackle Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk across northern England. At the time I had not been active on the bands for about 20 years, so my childhood (first licensed at age 15) dream of taking a radio into the woods, to combine the avid interests of radio and the outdoors, had not been realized.
The Coast to Coast walk is a brilliant tour of 192 miles, highly recommended. We followed Wainwright’s route from west to east, starting from St. Bees on the Irish Sea coast. After three hiking days we were coming out of the Lake District on a cold, dreary, rain-swept afternoon – in other words, a fairly typical April ramble, as I understand it. We crossed over the last peak before our descent into Grasmere and our lodging for shelter, a hot shower, and a cool pint.
Just east of the summit we met two gentlemen, just as damp as we were despite the Goretex, who were just folding up a Yagi and stowing into a waterproof bag a duo-band HT. What could this be? I introduced myself as a ham and we exchanged call signs - alas, I did not record theirs. They told me they were engaged in an activity in which they transmitted from various peaks. It was all new to me, but intriguing.
Well, of course in retrospect it was my first exposure to SOTA. Fast forward to 2018 and after several years of percolation I am now an activator in the southern Appalachian Mountains, mostly on 40m and 20m HF with a KX1 and a 40-foot sloper for an antenna. I am having an absolute blast, finally realizing that youthful dream. I’ve been blasted by sun, pelted by rain, hammered by hoarfrost falling off tree limbs, and been chilled to the point where it interfered with my CW. What could be better? The coveted Mountain Goat award is still distant but within the realm of possibility; perhaps I have earned the Left Hind Hoof award by now. The XYL, who really is a candidate for sainthood, gracefully acknowledges that every proposed hiking trip must be reviewed on SOTAmaps, and generously gives me an hour of radio time on intervening summits.
So here’s my grateful thanks to those unknown but intrepid hams in the UK who inspired me to SOTA. Hope you fellows are still in the game and having as much fun as I.
By the way, if any of you find yourselves in north Georgia, check out W4G/NG-020, Wildcat Mountain. It’s an 8-point summit, 1152 meters, easy access from convenient roadside parking, and the summit is a long rocky ridge with exquisite views. Best of all, it lies on an official side trail off the Appalachian Trail that leads to the Whitley Gap shelter for overnighters. The XYL and I are two of the four persons who maintain the side trail and the shelter, so perhaps we’ll see you there!
Cheers, Scott WB8ICQ