So, here we are, in August and the one big goal I had set out to do did happen. I made double goat on Aug 21, 2021. Like all blog posts though we’re going to start with a little backstory on how double goat also because a double goat, double activation double double extravaganza!
With Covid-19 still causing persnicketyness (yes made up word) with travel, but I really jonesing for some terrain some color other then brown and white I had intended to go and hike the N GA, NC section of the AT up to the Fontana Dam at the Southern end of the Smokies. Queue the W4C campout, something I had been wanting to go to for a few years after activating with KI4SVM back in 2017. So in a matter of a few days about a week before I was supposed to take off I shifted my plans from flying into ATL and taking a shuttle to Springer to flying into Roanoke and hanging with a whole new group of SOTA activators. I ended up activating directly with Ron (NR3E) and Liz (K1LIZ), both of whom I had chased before. For those that do not know her Liz/K1LIZ is completely blind, and has been activator for quite a while now. As of this writing she herself is a double Goat and Ron is a triple goat. I also activated a couple of peaks with Dean (K2jB) and Pat (KI4SVM). Always good to get out with Pat. I finally got to meet Paula (K9IR) whom I had chased and been chased by a few times before as well as met up with quite a few other East Coast activators, including one brit who is a bit cheekier than Paul 😉 (N2GBR). All in all, I spent my first few days in VA with those guys, but I did need to start hiking South as I was trying to validate my thoughts on hiking the entire AT as a SOTA project. I am considering taking 2023 to do a full thru hike and activate the 170 or so peaks that fall on the trail itself. You may remember in 2017 and 2018 I retraced the Tahoe Rim Trail but activated all the peaks that fell within 1 mile of the trail corridor. This turned a 170 mile trip into a 230 mile trip with a lot of zero days that had 10+ miles and a ton of elevation gain. The nice thing about the AT being a true ridge run is the trail itself goes directly over a bunch of peaks. I was however surprised at the density and distribution of where those peaks are on the trail (ie..the bulk of the points are on the Southern end before Harpers Ferry. So off I strode heading South on the AT with a goal of reaching Pearisburg and activating everything I could. Along the way and why this part of the story has bearing on this post is that Paul, W6PNG texts me and asks “hey why don’t we do Double Goat TOGETHER!”. We kept talking during that trip, and I think we had both realized that no two activators had double activated for double GOAT yet, so we set a tentative goal of July knowing that for various reasons the date would most likely slip. All summer long we both kept in active touch with other, kept activating, and started the planning process. We both knew we wanted something in the 395 corridor (Eastern Sierra) but had not decided N or S yet. Also that time of year can be kinda dicey when it comes to fires and smoke and such, so it was safe to say that we each had numerous plans.
With the date set, it was time to pick the peak. We had considered all kinds of FAs in W6/SS and NS, and had narrowed it down to a few, and built plans around them, but ultimately we settled on this cluster of peaks near Bridgeport CA. Little did we know the Dixie, Tamarack and Caldor fires would all try and foil our venture in one way or another. Once we met up in the area we found a wonderful dispersed camp site at the trail head for Emma Mount (W6/ND-395). It was kind of fitting that we were doing a peak whose number was “395” given that we were right off the 395. So remember what i was saying about those fires? Just after dinner the smoke started to pour in, and 20 miles away in Bridgeport the AQI was reading in the 300s, to the point that I slept with a mask and my buff on to try and keep the lungs from filling up with crap.
Fortunately though by morning it had pulled back some, and after a 530am wake up we were on the trail by 0630. The approach to Emma was mostly off trail and straight up; about 1900 feet of elevation over a 1.5 mile approach, some of it super steep, and the top 600 or so feet is mostly talus, none-the-less we made it up in 1 hour and 50 minutes. On the summit it was very windy, and cold. I think at one point I made reference in one of video clips that it was warmer the previous December when I was on Mt Whitney (W6/SN-001). We decided to just run with Paul’s KX2 (Paul is not yet a cw operator) so that we could do a pass the mic style operation on SSB, and Paul was cool with giving me some time to run some CW while he listened in. We ended up with 9 SSB contacts overall and then I ran another 15 total CW contacts between 20 and 40m. Because of the winds, we both decided it was time to head down after knowing we’d cleared the main glut of chasers. We would like to have stayed longer, but the winds were wreaking havoc on us, so with that we packed up and headed down. The walk down was uneventful, but because of the incoming glut of smoke, the fact that the Caldor fire was bearing down on Tahoe we both agreed that it was time to cut our weekend plans short. So with that, we had some lunch in Bridgeport and parted ways.
So, now that double goat is done, what is next for me? Well Paul and I agreed we’d both keep on activating, and I even tossed out it’d be fun to do another activation in the UK together, so maybe we should work towards doing our 3x MG in the UK. Either way, we are not yet done with SOTA, and really enjoy feeding off of and motivating each other!
73 de N6JFD