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Last year at the end of January we started our Summits-on-the-Air year with a visit to Eagle Mountain in Abbotsford. This year we did the same thing. Ralph and I had hoped to activate a park mid-week but the weather was wet, cold and damp which kept us indoors. Come Saturday the weather had been replaced with sun, cold and wind. That seemed a bit friendlier so we set off for our annual visit to Eagle Mountain which would be our first activation of the year.
Ralph arrived at my place at 11am. I had to rework my gear to be a SOTA adventure rather than a parks activation. Once we loaded up in the car we set out for the summit. The navcom gave us a 48 minute estimate for the drive, arriving around 11:50. It was very close as we pulled into the cul-de-calc at the end of Raven Crescent at 11:52. Winding through all the construction and cars parked along the roads near the summit needed extra concentration but we made to the top and were ready to wander about to review the location before setting up.
We got out and walked up the short access road to the spot next to the fenced area. After a few minutes of looking around a security person came by asking us to leave. We explained what we were planning to do and she allowed us to stay and do our radio activity. It seems like they have had numerous break-ins and thefts despite the video surveillance. We returned to the car and loaded our gear into the cart and returned to the area next to the fence. It now has only a partial view of the valley below, new homes have blocked much of the view.
Ralph went about setting up his mast attached to the fence for support. I set up my mast with 3 four foot extensions giving it a height of around 12 feet for my Yaji. The wind was strong enough that I had to duct tape the yagi to the top mast segment to keep it from turning in the wind. I set up my table and radio and gave my first call. It was another activator just across the line near Bellingham, and so I had my first contact in the log and an Summit-to-summit at that. I then worked a regular in Mission, but as I finished with him the wind blue over the mast and I saw the yagi hanging in the fence with a couple of its elements bent.
I gathered up the mast and straightened out the elements. One good thing about this Arrow yagi is that the elements are strong and also easy to re-bend to proper positions. I then raised the mast but this time I tied it to my cart. I hadn’t brought my guying pieces but the cart gave some more stability. I still needed to hold the tripod in the strongest gusts, but it was now more stable. I continued to make calls and complete contacts including a pair of activators on Black Mountain in West Vancouver. It was pleasant enough in the sun but the wind on the slope was intense and really cooled one off. Ralph meanwhile was also fighting the wind which had also knocked over his pole and caused havoc with his wire line. At one point he tripped over it while trying to keep it in place. After he reached around 16 logged contacts he hit a dry spot in his calling and decided to pack it in due to the wind chill. Meanwhile I had reached 21 on 2m with local stations. So, though we were only operating around 30 minutes we both had enough in our log books to be successful. Packing up went quickly and soon we were back in the car out of the wind.
Well, we were done being on the hill but we hadn’t had time for lunch yet! We decided to just eat where we were parked and so took a few minutes to enjoy a sandwich. Then it was to the nearest Starbucks to pick up a warm drink. The store was only a few minutes drive from the summit and so we soon were walking into the store, fortunately there was no line-up and we had our drinks in short order. We sat at a table to drink our coffee while warming up. We had a couple of shopping stops along the way home but otherwise the drive went smoothly and we made good time, traffic seemed light in our direction though going east it was much heavier. That completed our now annual January activation for another year and we need to set our planning on the next summit.