The positivity on Tuesday 17th July 2012 continued. For lunch was taken in the university refectory, and the spicy paprika pork and rice was fantastic! Oh how I miss university refectories!
Anyway, as I left the campus, I thought to myself “You know, Foel Goch GW/NW-039 isn’t that far away for an easy four points…”! Start counting those schoolboy errors now…
I made it down to the A5 and through Llangollen OK, through Corwen and past the A494. I even found the left turn for Llangwm at the first time of asking. But now my fading memory, lack of OS map and lack of Jimmy began to bite. It took my three goes to locate the correct single track road down to the parking spot for Foel Goch. It took me longer as well, for being on my own I had to deal with the gates on the gated road all by myself - how irritating!
Once parked on the patch of grass under the trees, and made sure it was a bit I would get back off easily enough, it was on with the boots and rucksack again. The plod up the hill was a bit of a slog but then I recalled a nice easy flat bit around the lip of Cwm-llan. Ha! It was churned and bogged up to the max, and was a real pain to negotiate.
I reached the top gate, but didn’t fancy climbing over the fence (I think I may have forgotten about a stile or gate a little further along). So I decided to walk up on the right hand side of the fence and angle into the summit from that side. This was pure idiocy. I had no map and no compass. The clag was right down and I was experimenting with an unfamiliar route.
I continued to angle around to the left while gaining height. I had the sensation of being close to the summit, but was reduced to randomly trying different bumps, lumps and hillocks as they loomed out of the mist. Visibility was down to around 20 feet and it was nigh on impossible to get a rough idea of the surrounding topography.
I found a bit of a track and followed it. When it went down, I thought it was a little saddle I remember just before the summit. Except this one continued to go down. I halted myself and reversed the direction. This time, the trig point did loom out of the mist, and also the cairn and milestone that accompany it on the summit.
The fog was so thick that I couldn’t see where the sun might be. I couldn’t tell from the ground which should be the main path for the descent. I couldn’t remember from my previous visits whether the milestone and cairn were slightly north, or south of the trig point! But I remembered the advice in The Hillwalkers Manual when faced with such a predicament - and that was to have a rest and allow yourself some thinking time.
So I cracked on with the 30m set-up. It was very difficult to get the dipole up in fierce winds, but eventually I did, and once up, it stayed up. However, the Rockmite was not playing. Conditions were probably to blame, but now no-one could hear my 174mW on 10.115MHz CW.
Battery: #1. Activation: #18
Summit: GW/NW-039. Band: 30m
Radio: Rockmite 30
Antenna: Inverted V Dipole @ 6m agl
Battery: Duracell Pro-Life
Finish Voltage at room temp: Not a clue
New DXCCs: 0
Cumulative DXCCs: 19 (9A, DL, G, GM, HA, HB, I, LA, LZ, OE, OK, OM, OZ, PA, RA, S5, SM, SP, SV)
QSOs: 0. Cumulative QSOs: 68
I resorted to 2m FM from the VX7-R handheld. At least this would give me an opportunity to wave the radio around and try to determine some directions. I made three contacts, and got a vague (but not confident) idea of where north was. And then my VX7-R ran out of charge!
Back on the Rockmite, but still no takers. So for the first time today, the FT-817 was called into action. Suddenly, from not being heard anywhere on 30m, I was called from Portugal! Five QSOs on 30m CW took me to 8 for the activation, and a comfortable qualification for one that was look decidedly dicey only a few minutes earlier!
I packed up and followed what I had decided was likely to be the correct route off the summit. Happily, it was indeed correct, and 30 minutes later I was back at the car.
For most of the journey home, I had Jimmy 2E0EYP to keep me company via the repeater known as GB3MN. Sadly, he was not in the car with me. If he had have been, then presumably I would have joined the A55, instead of continuing on the A483 into Chester. And joined the M56, instead of continuing on the M53 virtually to Birkenhead.
Still, it had been a day of schoolboy errors. A few more wouldn’t hurt.