A beautiful (and hot) day for a QRP SOTA activation on Bearwallow Mountain!

Tuesday, September 5, 2023, was a gorgeous day. A hot day, but a beautiful one!

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fit in a quick SOTA activation and the most accessible summit that day was Bearwallow Mountain.

Bearwallow Mountain (W4C/CM-068)

I was in South Asheville all day, so Bearwallow was only about a 25 minute detour.

Since it was a Tuesday in the latter part of the morning, there were few others parked at the trailhead. Had it been a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday? It can be difficult to find a parking spot. Indeed, the previous day (Labor Day) I’m sure it was packed!

I practically had the place to myself, though.

The hike up was most enjoyable although it was hot and humid, so sweaty I became.

That said–and I think I even say this in the activation video below–I really wished the hike was a bit longer. The Bearwallow trail is maybe a mile long.

I wanted a longer hike, but in truth, didn’t have the time for one anyway.

Bearwallow’s summit is a large pasture. It does offer up some spectacular long-range views.

Bearwallow is also home to a lot of comms towers including a number of local repeaters.

I found a nice, flat rock, set up my chair, and deployed my Chelegance MC-750 vertical.

Click to enlarge this image

It was time to hit the air!


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On The Air

I hopped on the air and started calling CQ SOTA. It didn’t take long for the SOTA spots page to pick me up via the Reverse Beacon Network.

I logged four contacts in short order thus validating this SOTA activation.

In that first four I logged, my friend Dean (K2JB) called me S2S from the summit of Shinall Mountain (W5A/OA-015) near Little Rock, Arkansas. (The last time I activated Bearwallow, in fact, I ran into Dean and his cute pup! Check out that field report here.) The SOTA community is both amazingly international and also amazingly local–I love it.

I logged a few more contacts then heard another S2S calling, this time from JB (KC1MXB) on Tout-de-Joie Rang Rd HP (W1/AM-341) in Maine. Turns out, Jonathan was activating that summit as an ATNO! Brilliant!

There was no shortage of folks on the air that day. All in all, I logged a total of 34 chasers: 27 on 20M and 7 on 17M.


Here’s what this five watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:

Activation Video

Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation.  As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.

Note that Patreon supporters can watch and even download this video 100% ad-free through Vimeo on my Patreon page.

Note: There is a small chunk of video missing. At the conclusion of the activation, I stood up from my chair and must have tipped the camera on its tripod. The camera landed on a rock. Amazingly, the only damage was a little nick on the bezel of my lens. The shock of falling, though, abruptly stopped the video footage. Back home, I found out that it corruptions that portion of the video:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Much more SOTA planned this year

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending the W4 SOTA campout in north Georgia. I’m really looking forward to hitting the trail with friends and adding some summits to my list.

Since we’re now entering the cooler temps of fall, I’ll do even more hiking.

One of the big goals of doing SOTA is to accumulate 1,000 summit points for the “Mountain Goat” award. It’s not an easy goal and it’ll be a while before I’m there.

You see, since I’ve now activated Bearwallow Mountain in 2023, its summit points can only count once towards the 1,000 needed for Mountain Goat per calendar year. In other words, I could activate Bearwallow daily, but its 6 points only count once per year.

With such a busy family life at this point, Mountain Goat status seems like such a lofty goal.

I had to look up how many points I’d accumulated thus far (I took the screenshot above).

Since February 25, 2021 (my first activation) I’ve completed 38 activations for a total of 219 points. At this rate, Mountain Goat would be a 10 year goal! Truth is, once my wife and I are empty nesters, I’ll have more free time to play SOTA so, who knows? Maybe by 2028? Ha ha!

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this activation!

I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.

As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me!

Have a brilliant weekend!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

8 thoughts on “A beautiful (and hot) day for a QRP SOTA activation on Bearwallow Mountain!”

  1. I only recently found the subscription link for this, and I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed your posting. I am just starting my cw journey and this helps keep me energized to continue studying.

    1. I’m so happy to hear that, Jay! Good luck with your studies–you’ve got this! 🙂
      Cheers & 73,

    2. FB on starting down the CW path, Jay. CW is not only a pleasurable and rewarding skill, it unlocks so many more aspects of our hobby.

      Keep at it and we look forward to seeing you on the CW bands!

      p.s. OM K4SWL is, indeed, a huge inspiration to many new hams and old-timers alike.

  2. SOTA on. I done my first summit in May. Can’t wait to do another one. Something about a 2 + hour drive to get there. Hope to catch you on your next outing.

  3. Another great video. I always enjoy your activations, because they are so interesting and educational. I would welcome the opportunity to work you on the air, but since I live in NW South Carolina we maybe too close. Plus my morse code skills need to continue to improve.

    I also have a Chelegance MC – 750 vertical antenna which I love. Unfortunately the whip to the antenna broke off recently. I was unsure about what to do, so I contacted Chelegance and learned that they sell replacement parts for the antenna. I ordered a new whip along with a new 80 m coil for the antenna to use with my Mountain Topper 4b.3. Hopefully everything will arrive soon and I can get back on the air.

    Thanks for all you do for the hobby and 73,


  4. Thomas,
    How do you like the KXPD2 paddles? I’ve seen negative reviews of the KX3 version, but nothing about this. Is it worthwhile or should I spend the money on a Begali?

    After several false starts, I have finally made the commitment to be good at CW. Your posts were a big part of what got me back to CW.

    1. Dwight,

      I would recommend a separate paddle from the KX3. But I can see times the paddle on the rig would work better.

      73, ron, n9ee

  5. I got a MC750 vertical antenna couple weeks ago and have had 2 QRP outings using it on 15 & 20m. This antenna is made very well and comes with a good 2ft bag. It is good mainly because it is resonant on the band the whip is set for (has freq marking on the whip on sets it for the band). It is a quarter wave so will work well. I did find for like 20m did need to extend the whip like 4 additional inches to get best SWR on 14.060. This might be due to our bad Earth ground of sand here in Florida.

    Tomorrow, 9/30, I will be using at another park event and plan on putting up the MC750 and also my 20m end fed and compare the two.

    73, ron, n9ee

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