SOTA – Failed to activate, but learned a few things

August 24 – My first SOTA activation attempt, a fail

My daughter and I had the over-nighter planned at Four Peaks.  We were going to do some very basic camping, no frills, and spend most of the time exploring on the ATV and hiking. I figured if we got serious with our hike, we might be able to summit Brown’s peak and do a SOTA activation.  Unfortunately, we didn’t make the summit, and therefore didn’t activate.  But with the fail, there was a ton of fun and some lessons learned.

  • Missed the summit by about 100 meters

Lessons Learned:

  • Sometimes the body isn’t as young/ready as I think it is – I have an upcoming knee surgery to repair a torn miniscus.  Its not bad when I walk, but it was throbbing by the time we hit the first saddle.  Even though only a 5.1 mile round trip, it was the main cause for my daughter and I to call it quits before reaching the summit

  • Bring more and prepare more than you think you need – I hastily put gear together and forgot a few things.  I forgot a pen, forgot a notebook, and didn’t bring quite enough water (I ended up saving most of my water and giving it to my daughter when I realized we were running low midway to the top).  I could have used a few ibuprofen as well.  As a newbie, it would have been better to over-prepare vs under.

  • Don’t sacrifice wisdom for points – I read a bunch from Summits on the Air the day before we left. I even read the safety section :), and pinged my local ham friends on the quick “how to” for activations . My daughter and I actually could have pushed through and done the last 100 meters and made the summit, but it would have been tricky getting down and with my knee, and for sure I would not have been able to help my daughter should something have happened and she needed my help.  I’m disappointed in not activating, but feel wiser for the decision.  BTW – my daughter was game to keep going, but I think she was also thinking, “Mom would FREAK if she could see us”.

  • It’s not just about the points, its about the experience – My daughter and I had a blast on the trip ATV’ing through the Four Peaks Wilderness, and hiking to try and make the summit.  Lots of good conversation and physical and mental toughness training that will pay off later in life for sure.  Also, since it was my first attempt at a SOTA activation, I see it as a good learning – and a reinforcement that I really like this part of the ham radio hobby.  Last, It was pretty cool to make an eyeball contact with Mark/WX7MB as we were on the way down and he was on the way up to activate.  I was also able to work Mark as a chaser an hour after meeting on the trail from my ATV, as well as met a couple of other hams on 144.410 in the process. 


Good times.  I think we will try this again.


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