Trip Report - Cherohala Skyway
I took a little day trip up to the Cherohala Skyway today. Clear skies but pretty windy and cool up at altitude, but a great place for playing with the radios.
For those not familiar, the Cherohala Skyway is a road connecting Tellico Plains, TN (Monroe County) with Robbinsville, NC (Graham County). It goes OVER the mountains. Probably two or three miles are above a mile in elevation. The views are spectacular and the whole area is pretty deserted most of the time, except weekends from about now until late fall.
I parked at the Santeetlah picnic area, elevation 5377 feet per the sign. Another nice thing is the noise floor is pretty much non-existent. There are no radio sites for miles around. There's also no cell service so you've been warned there.
Air band scanning is pretty great. There are no mountains any higher up than you, so excellent range - both RF and visual. I was able to receive, among other things, the AWOS stations at Monroe County Airport and Rockwood Municipal Airport, the latter a distance of about 57 miles.
The big issue with land mobile services is co-channel interference. You will get stations out of North Carolina and Tennessee, along with Georgia, South Carolina, and even Virginia.
Picked up lots of trunking control channels...I was able to receive 30 various Motorola and P25 control channels, mostly in 700/800 MHz but a few VHF and UHF as well. Best DX was probably two Virginia STARS control channels, and they came in well enough to get good voice decoding. TVRCS, TACN, and VIPER systems were all well represented.
Equipment was a Uniden BCD396T scanner and one of the little cheap MFJ mini mag mount antennas with the lossy RG-174 coax. But with this altitude it apparently doesn't matter much.
--mws / kf4lhp