Sunday, April 28, 2019

Week 24 Part 2 – Cove Mountain (#52), Greentop (#53)

It was March 29, 2019.  Today was intended to be a tripleheader with Cove Mountain W4T/SU-042 as the lead-off followed by Greentop W4C/SU-076 and then by Hall Top W4C/SU-055.  Scott and I met at Home Depot parking lot near Asheville and this time we rode his Subaru to the Cove Mountain trail head near Gatlinburg TN.   It was “Spring Break” and the trail head was full of cars.  We had to park by the roadside about 100 meters away from the trail head.  Families and kids abound on the trail.  There were steep drop offs on the Laurel Falls trail.  The trail was paved all the way to the falls.    With all the spring rains, there was a lot of water rushing down the falls.   This initial section of the trail was relatively flat.

After the falls, the trail started out very rocky then turned into a more even dirt trail.   Only two hikers joined us at the summit while we were up there.   At the summit there was a fire tower.  There were views of Mt. LeConte as we headed up the ridge.

The summit area had a large opening convenient for setting up.   Scott used the tower to drop a line for his vertical.   I set up on the trail using one of the trees as a mast holder.   
The first order was to get Dean K2JB who was on W4C/WM-058 Wesser Bald for a summit to summit contact and both Scott and I quickly got him on 60m (5.332MHz) with CW.  Following that was my first trans-Atlantic summit-to-summit contacts with activators Jorge EA2LU and Ignacio EA2BD who were both on EA2/NV-092 in Spain.   Scott took care of both 60m and 40m while I took on 20m and 30m to sweep the bands.   Soon we were on the long 6 km hike down.   We encountered a few more intrepid hikers trying to summit Cove Mountain on the way down.  Dean K2JB sent us text messages telling us about short cuts for the drive to Greentop.

Greentop is a “drive-up” except that this drive-up was on perfectly paved roads as opposed to gravel forest roads.   With the short cuts that Dean provided, it was a short drive, perhaps a half hour to the summit of Greentop.  We were warned about severe RF interference by Ron KI4TN but I encountered no such problems. Scott and I split the coverage of the bands, him on the low bands of 60m and 40m and me on the high bands of 20m and 30m.   We both made summit to summit contacts with Dean K2JB who is now on W4C/WM-018 Wine Spring Bald.  We did not generate a lot of QSOs but enough with our usual chasers.  Soon we were on our way to Hall Top.

The excitement of the day came in the process of trying to summit Hall Top.  We were both “on the fence” about whether to do Hall Top or not.  We had only one hour of daylight left with Hall Top only 11.5 km away (as the crow flies”.  We decided to do it.  With good cell service Google Maps got us to the gravel Tower Road to the summit.   About a fifth of the way up this long and twisty forest road – we encountered a sign that said “road closed ahead”.  We took a chance that the sign is wrong and the road is really open. 

About 2/3 of the way up, we encountered a washout of the road way.  The washout narrowed the road to about the width of the Subaru track and with trepidation we made our way across.   We certainly could not turn around at that point.  We were hoping that there would be sufficient space past the washout to turn around.   About another 800m and we encountered a barricade.    This was truly our “stop point” and I got out of the car to guide the car around.  We both looked at each other and I asked “Do we hike it?”.  Scott asked in reply “How much more elevation gain?”.   I said – “Another 200m to the summit per the altimeter on my GPS and another 2 km”.  With 30 minutes of daylight left and having to negotiate that washout again we both said “Nah, let’s go home”.

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