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I had planned to activate two summits on my next trip to Victoria. Both would be a first activation for me and so I was looking forward to the hikes and getting them in the log. First up was Mount Newton. Normally one can drive up most of the way to the summit and then just walk the last bit but with the extreme dry summer conditions the road was closed to vehicular traffic. So I planned to walk the entire length of the road in. Now that may sound hard but the hike still was only a mile in length!
I arrived at the locked gate around 10:30 and reversed back down the road to find a spot where I could park. There were no parking signs along the road from the gate down past the start of the park but not much further out there were spots amongst a couple other parked cars. I pulled in to a spot and got out to get my gear loaded. One of the other problems with the dry summer were the forest fires and the smoke from them was thick in the region. It was quite dense today and was a concern for me doing even this level of exercise. But I got my pack on and started up the road.
Not much after the gate I met another hiker who was doing a cross trail, they commented on the air quality and how it was making walking much harder. I agreed with her and after a moment to get a drink I continued on up the road. A service truck came down the road and disappeared into the smoke. So I knew some people were still going to the summit. The road continued upward at a decent rate and as I got closer to the top it dipped back down to a parking area and access to a picnic area. Here the road that continued to the summit was further gated and the paved road became gravel.
I climbed over the edge of the gate to continue my way up and there I met a group walking back down. They indicated that there were no views of anything other than a park worker painting a staircase. I continued up the final stretch of road and arrived at the summit area. At the summit there are two groups of buildings. The slightly lower one has a massive cell tower and a radar system for the airport. The higher fenced off area is occupied by a large dome building. I walked to the official lookout next to the tower and scouted out a location to set up. I chose a spot only a few meters from the lookout platform.
Looking around at the heavily covered cell tower a few meters away and a spinning radar antenna for the airport I wondered if any 2m RF would find its way through the field to my antenna. Persevering, I set up the yagi and Ralph’s 30 watt amp and put out a call. I very quickly had my first contact in the log. Followed by two club members back home and then a number from across the water in Washington. After 20 minutes I had 14 in the log, a record for me. Well that felt good and it seems that the towers beside me had little impact. So as there was no view, I packed up the gear and started back along the road. On the way up I spotted a side trail that looked like it went towards the summit so on the way down I found it and saved a few steps. Soon I was back to the car and ready to set off for my room. A good adventure, record contacts despite the heavy smoke and no view.
My plan for Friday was to activate Mount Work, for this trip my cousin who lives in Oak Bay joined me. He arrived at the hotel at 9:45 and we quickly set off for the start of the trail. I had selected the southern route as it was shorter and the steepness was not too severe as the summit is only 450m high, this trail was marked at 2.3km so a pleasant walk for the morning. Today the weather was a bit cooler and we did have a sprinkle of rain so the air was much clearer than on Wednesday. The drive to the start was encumbered by numerous construction sites that always proliferate like a virus in the summer and we had to work our way through them at a snail’s pace. But eventually we arrived at the trailhead. We quickly got our bit of gear loaded and we were off on the well-worn trail to the summit. The trail was actually quite pleasant and we met a few on the route, some walking others jogging. As we gained elevation and neared the summit we finally had some nice views of the region to the west of Mount Work. It was actually quite nice being able to see into the distance.
When we arrived at the summit we scouted out a decent spot, the summit itself is fairly broad with trees but has no view itself. So I picked a spot that would hold my pole upright and had the least trees in the direction of Vancouver. I quickly set up the yagi and got out the amp and then I discovered that my bnc to sma connector was missing! I had left it and my logbook at the hotel! So much for using the yagi, all I had was the pitiful small rubber antenna. Well it was all I could do so I started calling – nothing, Ralph was trying me from White Rock – nothing heard either way. Eventually I put out a call on the local repeater and a local chap answered and said he would try me on 2m. We made contact even though I didn’t register on his S-meter, he said the audio was clear. He was surprised I got in to him with the small antenna. After trying for a while with nothing further I remembered I had my KX2 in the bag so I set it up and scanned the band. Not much was out there on 20m but I did hear a station working a pile-up, it was in Slovenia. I tried calling a few times but didn’t really expect to be heard. I put out a call and eventually made one contact. I would have kept trying but by now I could see that my cousin was getting restless, so we packed up the gear having successfully activated the summit but not with enough contacts to gain the whole point. The hike back down went quickly even with stopping for a few photos. We did see one deer just before we reached the parking lot.
Well even though the second activation was hampered with missing equipment, it was still a lovely hike and I enjoyed the time out there hiking and chatting with my cousin. He was interested in doing another summit on my return trip in the spring.