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In the Summits -on-the-air program one can activate a summit for points exactually once per year. As such, we visit all the lower peaks in the Fraser Valley at one point over the year. Last trip out it was Iron Mountain, today we hiked its neighbour – Grant Hill. The short hike up the last kilometer of the road is usually busy with mountain bikers walking up to the summit for their quick cycle down the trails through the trees. It was normally quite busy and the number of cars parked alongside the end of the road could stretch for some distance. In leaving after lunch, we were quite concerned about how far back from the gate we would end up parking.
Ralph arrived at my house a bit before 1pm and we immediately set out for the hill. We were discussing plans to perhaps drop Ralph off at the gate with the gear while I searched out a parking space. When we arrived at the road end, we were surprised to see only a few cars parked there. There was a nice open space for us to park just one car back from the gate! We were both quite surprised that so few were here. Once parked we quickly donned our packs and started up the road.
The walk went quite quickly, on previous trips dozens of bikers would have passed us on their way up, today only a handful. During our walk we noticed that a significant number of improvements had been made to the area. The deep ditch alongside the road was filled with gravel making life safer for parking cars. There were trail map signs and nice trail guides. There was even a nice double picnic table at the top of the road, nicely shaded by the trees with garbage bins no less. The place was well improved for the onslaught of bikers.
Ralph was tempted to stop at the table to set up but I continued in along the trail to the usual place we operate from. He soon followed me in and we started to setup our stations. I wanted to try something new today. I have two walking poles and I purchased some stiff wraps in order to tie them together to get a bit more height for the yagi. I found that raising it a few more feet improved the signal strength quite a bit. Just down from the usual spot I used previously, I noticed a large tree stump and I decided to try to use it to support my extended pole. It proved too soft to support the pole but it served as a lean-to.
Yagi in the air and radio attached, I put out my first call, very quickly I had a regular respond to me and then another, who was followed by club member Ken. They were soon followed by a chap in Port Kells and then another club member – Jim. I managed three more conatacts is short order ending with one of my regular chasers – Warren in Abbotsford. Then things went dead. It took ten more minutes of calling to get a 9th contact. Fortunately, one only needs 4 for SOTA so I had more than enough to activate the summit. Ralph had also managed enough by this point and he had also hit a dry spell. Rather than keep on calling we decided to head down for a cool drink.
The normal route we took going down was to retrace our steps along the road but today we decided to follow the main bike trail down. The bike traffic was very light and we felt it would be a more interesting decent for us. We followed it for some distance and came across a side trail leading back to the road which we took as we weren’t sure how far down we had gone. Once at the road we saw that we had descended only about a quarter of the way. Next time we will follow the bike trail further down. Along the road we stopped to chat with a biker heading up. We asked where everyone was. He said that they were either on other hills or hiding from the heat of the day! We made good time to the bottom where we saw even fewer cars parked though a new group was just getting their bikes prepped for the walk up.
Though it is a small summit with a very easy walk up a straight service road, it still feels good getting out and in amongst the trees. I managed 9 contacts today, more than I did on some past trips but not a record for this hill. We drove to the closest Starbucks and picked up a cool drink for the drive home. Traffic was light and our drive went quite quickly. A nice afternoon out in the fresh air of a summit forest.