Whiteside Mountain is about two hours north of us, but we stretched that out a bit, taking a more circuitous route on some slightly less-travelled roads. It was a good choice, as we were able to see a bit of color on Highway 28 through South Carolina and Georgia, although the leaves were definitely past their peak - we shoulda been there last weekend!
No matter, as it was a super day for a walk in the woods. This was our third trip up Whiteside this year, and my second SOTA attempt there. Our first two trips were in July, and both were cut short by thunderstorms. As we arrived today, there were some clouds, and it was obvious it had rained not long before we got there, but it looked like there was no storm threat, so we headed up the hill.
The trail at Whiteside is about 2 miles, and makes a loop, with the counterclockwise direction being shorter to the summit, but steeper. The clockwise direction follows an old logging road, and with my knees, is the route I prefer, both ascending and descending, so that's the route we took. After a mile or so, we came to the first overlook - it's quite a spectacular sight after hiking through the woods. After that, there are several overlooks before coming to the summit, each amazingly more spectacular than the last. The trail is in great shape, and gains about 800 feet in the mile or so to the summit.
The battery on the FT817 is starting to show its age - I only operated for about 40 minutes, and at the end of that time, the voltage was dropping to around 9 volts on transmit. I had charged the battery only a couple days before the trip, so it should have been in decent shape. I decided to leave the gel cell in the car this time, but may have to lug it around in the near future until I can get some kind of lithium pack setup for this rig. I really need to start using the ATS3B for SOTA, but I need to work out an antenna solution that won't present high SWR to the rig while tuning, as that rig's final transistors are a little fragile. I've got some ideas, so stay tuned here to see how that pans out.
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Another good day playing radio from on top of a mountain!