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This time of year, I don’t do much mountain climbing as I am not well suited to cold. So, when the opportunity comes for a sunny day with reasonable temperatures in Mid-January one would be foolish to not get out and enjoy the fresh air. And so it was on Saturday – a lovely mild day with ample sunshine. Ralph and I were deciding between doing a first activation of a park or a repeat summit but our first for the year. It didn’t take much thought to choose the summit and so we planned our gear for that adventure.
When doing parks, one is down low and the range of VHF is not far so I opt to run HF radio gear but from a summit, VHF carries across the entire valley and across to Victoria and Nanaimo! Therefore, I packed my SOTA kit and waited for Ralph to arrive. We loaded up the car and made for the summit – no - coffee! It was a busy Starbucks and we waited some time for my drink to be delivered through the queue of eager caffeine addicts. Fortunately, we were not in a hurry. Drink in hand we started for the mountain.
Now this time of year we really don’t want a long hike in the cold so low summits and short hikes are in order. Eagle mountain is a perfect season opener as it really is a drive-up with only a short walk from the car to the operating location. The summit is a 50-minute drive from my home (excluding the coffee stop) and soon we were arriving at the top of the hill. The last few blocks along the road were a challenge weaving between the masses of construction vehicles parked across the roads! So many homes being built, all with lovely views of the valley. Expensive homes which I hope are actually being bought by people who will be living in them.
Once past the construction, we parked at the end of the road next to the access road to the cell tower and water reservoir at the summit. We transferred our gear to the wagon and started up the short road. Soon Ralph had selected his spot to operate and then I picked mine a short distance away. He was soon making contacts in CW (Morse code) on 20m to stations across the continent. Meanwhile I finished setting up my yagi and put out a call, I had a regular stream of contacts for the next 20 minutes after which I stopped to eat lunch. We both had more contacts than we needed but it is fun making the contacts. The sun was warm with no wind and the views of the mountains and valley were very lovely. I was quite enjoying just breathing in the fresh air.
Once Ralph had finished his string of contacts he stopped for lunch and then we reconfigured his antenna for the 17m band and he tried calling again. This time he snagged a station in Hawaii along with a couple more. The set-up worked though it could handle a bit more fine tuning. Well, we were ready to pack up and head down. I had my gear packed in a few minutes but Ralph’s gear takes more work to wrap up all the wires and parts. So once done with my station I helped Ralph and then we were back to the car. We made a quick stop at Davis Meats as we were nearby and then it was straight to home. A very successful day out and we bot felt ready to do it again. I am quite happy that we now have a few more easy summits on the list which we can do in winter, but parks-on-the air helps to fill in the need to get out as well.