Dickey hill, Virginia
Dickey Hill (W4V/SH-027) is the first summit one can activate in Shenandoah National Park from the Front Royal entrance. While an easy and short hike, it does offer some great views and plenty of parking at the trail head.
Summit Name: Dickey Hill, (W4V/SH-027)
Location: Front Royal, Va
Date: January 5th, 2021
County: Warren County
Weather: Partly cloudy, 32 degrees
Permit: Yes, $20 Entrance fee
On a Scale of 1 to 5
Dickey Hill is a summit I have activated several times due to the close proximity to Washington, DC.
The summit houses a FAA navigational aid, so operating it is important to stay at the bottom of the activation zone. This is very doable considering the trail encloses the summit right at the activation zone. The location I often go to has excellent views and solitude.
This activation was going to be one of four that I was doing today. I have been on the SOTA warpath activating summits and collecting those sweet winter bonus points. While Dickey Hill is only 4 points (and no winter points available due to it’s low elevation), it was a good summit to start out the day.
After parking at the Dickey Hill parking lot I walked along the road past several deer who seemed completely unfazed by my presence. The sun was coming and it was going to a good day.
On the Air:
2 & 40 Meters
FM & CW
Arriving at the activation zone I figured VHF would be my best option considering the early time. I was completely wrong as I only managed a few contacts. I switched over to 40 meters and made two contacts there. Being on the east coast I have seen this before where if you activate too early in the morning it seems harder to make contacts.
In the process of throwing my rock bag into a tree I managed to snag it in the most profound way. Well, at least the words coming out of my mouth were profound and loud. I tried using my fishing pole antenna mast to snag it with no luck. My other technique of wrapping a line around the rock bag wasn’t possible due to all the branches. This sucker was a good 20 feet up and the only way it was coming down was by climbing the tree. This idea didn’t really excite me as it was mid 20’s and I was going to have to take off my jacket to become a climbing monkey. With a lot of work, I managed to get up there and free it from the branches. What a pain in the ass. As far as I can recall with all my hanging of portable radio antennas, this is the only time I had a major issue in getting a throw bag stuck. The only exception was my food bag on my Long Trail section hike which was a fun time at 6:30am.
Another SOTA party trick is often you don’t need to hang your antenna over a branch rather you can use your antenna mast to hang it and rest the mast against a tree. Much quicker and easier to do. See the above picture for an example.
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