Summit: W4T/SU-025 (Little Bald Knob)
Date: November 23, 2013
Operators: Erik WX4ET, Slater K4QWZ
Weather: Mostly cloudy, temps below freezing, windy with gusts 30+ mph
Hazards:Rocks and roots along trail, hunters
On the afternoon of November 23, 2013, Erik WX4ET and I (K4QWZ) successfully activated Little Bald Knob. Following our activation of Unaka Mountain, we traveled down Unaka Mountain Rd/Red Fork Rd, then turned right onto SR-107. We noticed a lot of hunters parked alongside the road.
The AT crosses the road at the NC/TN border. There are no signs but there is a gravel parking area. Here, we turned onto an unmarked gravel road. The AT can be accessed about half a mile down this road. We parked there and began our ascent.
By this point, it was after 4pm and dusk was approaching. The wind had picked up dramatically. The AT intersects a few other trails, sometimes intersecting the same trail more than once. The first half of the hike was not bad. But, it got steeper for the second half and there are a few switchbacks. In order to reach the activation zone, we had to venture off the trail. This final ascent was fairly steep and slippery.
Upon entering the activation zone, we decided not to use our beam antennas and to only make four contacts. With night quickly approaching and the weather deteriorating, we didn’t feel like sticking around for longer than necessary. We rapidly made four contacts each and hiked back down as dusk was setting in.
As we descended, the temperature continued to decline and winds had increased with gusts over 30 mph. My extremities and face were numb. I jokingly asked Erik about potential frost bite. We made it back to my Explorer as darkness was setting in.