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The hike to the Sumas Peak summit is a pleasant walk along the top end of a service road. The road is well maintained as it is used to service three large repeater towers at the summit. For this reason I save the hike for someone whose hiking ability I am not sure about as it should be doable by most. So for this year’s adventure I enticed fellow club member Jim (VE7ADH) to join me and do his first SOTA activation.
Jim came by my house around 9am and we were off on the road, our first challenge was in squeezing the truck between cars parked either side of the road in my subdivision, they were all here for a garage sale. Once past the fortune hunters we made quick time to the traditional stops and then on to the highway. It was moving slowly for a few kilometers but then resumed normal speeds. It was a concern at first. Soon we were off the highway and making our way along Whatcom Road climbing the west flank of McKee Peak. Then onto McKee road and finally Sumas Mountain road.
The drive went quickly as we marveled at the growth of homes all the way up here. New subdivisions were appearing as we rounded each bend, it was really quite amazing. Soon we were starting up the forestry road and out of the reach of the developers. The road was in much better shape than when I drove it last year. This of course simply meant that there were now cars crowding the way not just a few trucks. We made good time to the locked gate and there I parked in what has become my standard location. There was one other car parked when we arrived.
Once geared up we started up the road and as the day was cool and quite ideal for hiking we make fast time to the top where the trail marker directs one to the final trail to the viewpoint. As we started along the trail another couple came by and passed us also on their way to the viewpoint. We continued past the repeater towers, Jim was explaining some of the challenges aligning the dishes as we went. Soon we rounded the final curve before the viewpoint and then we stretched out to rest and eat some lunch before starting the radio work.
Initially I set up my 2m yagi and started making some calls. They were coming in at a regular pace and soon I had the 4 needed for the activation. Jim also did some calling but once the calls slowed down we set up the 20m dipole and KX2 that I pack with me and we put out some calls. We could hear some stations but few heard us. I did manage one summit to summit with a chap in California. We switched back to 2m and logged a few more stations. Jim started up on 20m HF again and this time he was able hear a station which was in a plane off the coast of Florida. He heard part of our callsign but was unable to get all of it, so it was a partial contact.
After more 2m work, Jim tried 20 once more and picked up a station in Slovenia. He was a popular destination and there were many trying to reach him. Jim tried many calls and eventually was heard. So he logged a call with the station in Europe, 8650km distant with the KX2 at 12 watts with a small dipole antenna only a few feet off the ground. That was a good finish, so we packed up the gear and had a leisurely walk back down to the truck. It was a very successful activation and we both quite enjoyed the day.