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I have hiked up Farrer Peak numerous times throughout the years. The first being with young sons. Back then I hiked the entire Diez Vista trail looking for each of the viewpoints. Unfortunately, even back then most were already overgrown, offering little to no views. More recently I have settled for the preview viewpoint and stopped at the summit for a radio activation. Such would be my journey again today. It would be a different set up than previously. In prior years I was doing summits on the air and brought VHF radios to maximize the local region. Today I was combining that with Parks on the Air as this spot qualifies for both programs. POTA generally requires HF for the chaser coverage so I would need my HF gear for that. Bringing both would be too heavy so I opted for the normal POTA set up and a very light SOTA one.
I was originally planning on hiking the week prior but had to cancel at the last minute due to me forgetting to adjust my medication program for the hike. This week I made sure all was in order before the hike! Leaving the house at 9am I made good time to coffee and then followed a new route to the park as laid out by my car navigation. It avoided some of the busier congested roads for lightly traveled ones. It worked well and I was soon pulling into the parking lot. The far end from the beach was mostly empty and I settled into a spot of my choice.
After getting my backpack and shoes donned, I started for the trail. The number of the people around was low and I had the trail to myself for most of the way to the summit. I was making great time for me as I had decided to shorten my gait on the up slopes, this tired me out much less. For the past few months, I have been doing walks with my dog while wearing a weighted vest. The benefits of that effort really showed itself - my legs were much less tied from the hike. I made the summit in under two hours. My regular operating spot was waiting for me and so I dropped the backpack and spread out the tarp and then rested a few minutes.
For VHF I brought only my handheld and a half wave whip antenna. It was awkward to hold it, a mic and my log book so I tied a cord around the nearest tree and hung the HT on the rope. It worked well and kept the antenna in a stable position. I then called CQ and quickly got the first two contacts in the log. A third followed a couple minutes later. Then things quieted down so I decided to set up the HF antenna.
I had brought my mast along to support the centre, I thought it would be easier to raise it up with that then try to toss a string over a branch. It proved very successful as I was able to lift the centre over a branch just higher than the mast length. I then strung out the ends. It went up very quickly. After calling a bit I reached another station who was activating a park. He said it was pretty rough out there on the band. Not encouraging but I now had four in the log so only 6 to go for POTA, SOTA was already complete with the four.
I had some cell coverage up there but it was iffy and when I reached the next POTA chaser I asked if they would spot me which they did. That brought a number of additional stations and within a few more minutes I had reached the needed Ten. I kept calling and continued to make a steady dribble of contacts. In the end I had 22 in the log. So, the band was working better from up there than at my last park. The quietness of low background noise made life much nicer than at some parks. Having more than enough contacts I decided to pack up the gear.
As I was starting to shutdown a local SOTA activator came over the handheld and I made the final two 2m contacts. It was a great hike so far and a successful activation for both SOTA and POTA. Now to start down. I made very good time on the decent. Reaching the parking lot in 67 minutes! Barely needing to stop except t gather a few photos along the way. Likely would have been under an hour if I had no camera. My legs though tired were still feeling quite decent, the training certainly has helped. The route home mirrored the one coming and as it was still a bit before rush-hour, I made decent time along the highways and back to home. A very pleasant hike in the trees and successful activation. Now to plan for Field Day.