A Short NJ/NY AT Trip
By: Edward R. Breneiser, WA3WSJ/AT
It's 1:15pm on a Monday afternoon and I am leaving work to pick up my gear for an AT trip. After mentally going through my gear checklist, I leave home about 2:15pm and start the drive to the Mohican Outdoor Center near Blairstown, NJ in the Delaware Water Gap. After a nice drive to New Jersey, I arrive at the MOC around 4:15pm to find Ken, N2CQ, setting up on the camp road where the AT crosses the camp. We talk a bit then I head up to cabin number four. I unload my gear and set up my K2 in the cabin for an evening of radio. I then throw up my home brew 40M inverted vee fed with 300 ohm ladder line in the trees. After checking out the radio, I have my priorities; I start dinner that is steaks, corn and broccoli. Sometime around 6:45pm, it's getting dark, Ken comes into the cabin. Ken says that he had a fun afternoon playing radio on the AT. At dinner we discuss plans for Tuesday's adventure. Ken will set up at Rt.602 where the AT crosses and I will hike up Kittatinny Mountain to a fire tower on the AT. That evening we have fun on the radio and then hit the sack. The cabin sleeps four so we have plenty of room. There are two bunk beds with top and bottom spots and a small kitchen, which has a microwave stove and an electric stove. There's also a small hallway with a nice chair and two lamps, which is the radio spot. Tuesday morning I wake about 8:00am and start breakfast for us. Breakfast is eggs and beacon with tea or coffee. We clean up and play radio a bit and later both of us pack for the day. Ken leaves first about 10:40am and I leave about 11:30am for my hike to the AT. The weather looks threatening, but I still head out for the AT. I hike up Rattlesnake Swamp Trail,  which is a steep climb up the side of the Kittatinny Mountain towards the AT. After a half hour hike up the side of the mountain, I reach the AT and come to a gorgeous lookout - what a view! After another half hour hike out the AT, I reach the fire tower, but the weather is closing in on me. It's now starting to rain so I duck under the tower. At this point I can only see about ten yards in front of me. Oh, by the way, did I mention that I am about 100 feet up under the tower! The rain only lasts about fifteen minutes then I set up my gear for a day  of radio on the ground. Well, after about two hours the next band of rain hits me. I am under the tower at ground level a little wet, but not bad. After thirty minutes I again set up to operate my radio. Now I am on the air! After about twenty minutes, I can see the next storm over on a ridge about ten miles away from me so I again pack up the gear, but this time I'm leaving the mountain.  As I'm about half way down the mountain, the sky opens up on me. This is  where I find out that blue jeans just don't make it in the rain. My hat soaks through to my hair and I'm having trouble seeing the trail! I now make a huge mistake. The orange blaze makes a fork and which way to go right or left? Instead of pulling out the map, I didn't want to get it wet; I pick the right fork of the trail which is the wrong way. After about fifteen minutes of not recognizing the trail, I turn back to find the fork in the trail. I'm now on the proper trail and after about twenty minutes I 'm back at the cabin very wet and tired. After a change of clothing, I start dinner, but still no Ken. As dinner is cooking, Ken comes in and looks tired too. We both sit down to a dinner of chicken, corn and baked beans- the beans are a big mistake. Let's just say we both listened to music that night, but we didn't have a radio on!  Wednesday morning finds me drying my clothing out in the sun. We pack up and head out for the NJ/NY intersection with the AT. Just after noon we find the AT and set up our radios. Ken  about 300 feet down the road from me and is set up in about fifteen minutes. I take a bit longer, but I 'm on the air by about 1:00pm. At 1:45pm we both take a lunch break and talk about the trip. Ken decides to go up to the top of a small hill to look at the AT with me- what a view! Back down the hill to operate again from the AT. About 4:00pm Ken calls it a day and I start to pack up too.  It's been a good radio and weather day and we had lots of fun. I had lots of fun on this trip because my radio gear played very well. I  used my Elecraft K2 rig for the radio the whole trip. My main antenna was a home brew 40M tuned inverted vee made with number 28 gauge stranded wire. This wire is small, lightweight and very strong. It takes a licken and keeps on ticken! I can feed this antenna with either coax or ladder line, but it plays exceptionally well with ladder line. It tunes on all bands through my internal tuner except 17M. The whole antenna weights about 1.5 oz with most of the weight being the center insulator. I've used this antenna many times on the trail and it has never given me any trouble.  If you worked Ken or myself at the MOC, this is the antenna that we used  there. If you worked me, WA3WSJ, on the NJ/NY line on the AT, this is the same antenna I used there. I had a ball on this trip and the scenery was just beautiful, but most of all I got to know Ken and enjoy his company. If you have a chance, take a trip to the AT. All my trips to the AT have been nice and I learn more every time I hit the AT. I also learn a little more about myself on these trips. Just remember: Life is short so enjoy!
72, Ed, WA3WSJ
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