When I arrived early Sunday morning, the entrance park toll booth had a sign that read, “Pay when you leave”. Well, thanks to my awesome mother-in-law who gave me a 2017 Park Pass for Christmas this year, I was good to go. Later that day when I left there was a line going into the entrance half a mile long. It pays to get there early, even in the winter.
This trip I was going to work my way south from Thornton’s Gap and attempt to activate three SOTA summits.
I finally arrived at my first site: Hawksbill ( W4V/SH-001). Gearing up, I quickly made my ascent.
I returned to the trailhead and headed to Stony Man Summit.
I parked in the parking lot south of the Storyland rest area (which is closed during the winter) and hiked the AT to the summit of Stonyman. At the top was a TON of people (the tour bus at the parking lot was a clue), so I found a little spot off the main trail and managed to eek out 4 contacts on 20 and 40 meters. I tried calling on CW for awhile to see if the Reverse beacon network would pick me up, however later checking at home, they apparently never heard me.
Getting back to the car, I drove home and closely examined my leg. At this point it was very swollen and painful. I figured it was just a sprained ankle, but considering I fet something tear, I decided to get it checked out.
The following morning I went to the doctor and had x-rays done. The unofficial diagnosis is a fractured fibula. We’ll see what the Orthopedic doctor has to say. While this was a highly traveled trail and if I had been unable to get myself out, I still had my InReach to contact for help AND I had left a detailed hiking plan with my wife with strict instructions to call 911 if I didn’t contact her before 1900EST.
All in all, I did manage to activate two SOTA sites. Once I am healed back up, I will be back on the summits calling CQ.
I always like to look back and see what I could have improved on the trip:
- The SOTA mast lacks a point of attachment on the top mast section. I improvised with a rubber band attached to the end of my antenna. This provided enough friction to prevent sliding and worked as an excellent attachment point.
- When injured, the best course of action is to sit down, examine your site of injury and collect your thoughts. When someone you are with is injured, it is much easier to have that disconnect where you can guide them in a safe manner. When you are injured and by yourself, your focus becomes narrow and it is hard often to the see the whole picture. Honestly, I thought it was a minor injury but once I got home I realized it was more severe than I originally thought.