Bikepacking Operate Outside SOTA

Bikepacking to Callahan Knob, W5A/PT-009

A long overdue post. This activation took place on 11 April 2021.

Spring is in full swing in Arkansas. The mountains are clothed in their green and gold. Best yet, the nights are still cold. I hadn’t been camping since September and this particular weekend in April was going to be one of the few chances left to enjoy a bugless woods.

Plus, I needed an excuse to take my bicycle out on it’s maiden voyage.

Although many might question my sanity, I enjoy biking uphill. This ride didn’t disappoint. Very little of it was flat. Shortly after the turn onto the Dutch Creek Mountain Road, I found a turn off which led to a clearing. It was getting dark quickly so I decided to set up camp. For this trip, I brought the hammock and tarp since I knew that there would be plenty of trees to choose from.

As I was packing up the next morning, a game and fish warden pulled into the clearing. We were both surprised that the other one was there. It was the weekend of youth turkey hunt and I was camped in one of his favorite listening posts. We talked for a little while and he told me that if I was going up to Callahan Knob, I’d better be prepared for an overgrown road.

He was right. Aside from the place where 1600 acres burned a couple of weeks before, the fire road clearance was closed in by briars. You could have still driven down it as long as you didn’t care too much about the paint job on your rig. My pants and shirt suffered and I wish I had a pair of gloves, but I made it through without too much blood shed.

An hour and a half later, I came to the turn off to the summit. The views from the top were obscured by all the trees but it was beautiful nonetheless. Perhaps if the leaves had been off, I could see the surrounding summits, but that proved impossible by mid-April.

Before operating, I decided to cook some lunch and have some tea. Couscous and tuna, flavored with some chicken ramen packets hit the spot, as did the mint tea that I enjoyed while operating.

The arborist’s throwline has become an essential part of my setup. Not only did it allow me to hang my food in a tree the previous night, it did a stellar job of running my vertical antenna into the air without the bulk of a fishing rod. I’m contemplating making a full size vertical for 40m. With the inclusion of a loading coil for 80m, it could make for a nice winter night antenna.

This particular excursion has shown me that my radio setup is heavy and bulky, particularly in the battery and coax departments. The 50ft of RG-8X is great stuff, all two and a half pounds of it. The time has come to revisit the end fed half wave antenna as a viable option.

Stations Worked:

  • K6HPX
  • NU7B
  • K0RS
  • KD8DEU
  • F4WBN
  • N1CLC – S2S – W6/CT-103
  • WB2FUV
  • W6TED – S2S – W6/CT-103
  • K6MW

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