Activation Report CS-057
This is another of the hills in the National Park which I had not yet activated and the weather forecast was for reasonable weather so off I went to the Drumochter Pass and the Gaich drove road. As many other SOTA participants will know I am also an ardent believer in fairies and Santa Claus. Weather forecasters are soothsayers and, verily, false prophets!
The easiest place to park is on the minor road to Trinafour at NN724702 just before the snow gates on the south end of the Drumochter Pass (A9). It was midgy and drizzling rain when I left the car, crossed the A9 and took the track up to the BT mast at NN720714. The old drove road is well made and from here progress is quick, a bicycle (if you chose to use one of these masochistic machines) would make light work of the long trek of this route. I left the track just after the cairn at NN715734, there was no visibility, it was now raining so I engaged in a little spot of navigation to cheer myself up. The moorland is peppered with small bogs but is quite easy going, if tiring, and the first real ascent is onto the minor top south of the main summit. There was so little visibility it would have been easy to mistake this for the main top. However pressing-on revealed the drop down into the peat hag that divides the two summits and from there it is relatively easy to find a path (it looks like a deer track but has had human foot enhancement to make it slightly clearer). The ascent to the summit is steep and very tiring and even though encouraged by a sugar boost from a Mars Bar I was flagging by the time I got to the plateau. By now the rain was torrential and it was windy – neither forecast of course – and I suddenly realised I had overcooked it. The result was I did the one thing I have promised never to do – a smash and grab activation.
Putting up the dipole was easy enough – big flat plateau – and firing up the rig I discovered that the Li-ion battery was not in my pack and the internal cells on the FT817 were far from fully charged – I know, experienced activator forgets the basics, hence the headline! A brief call on 5MHz at 2.5 watts brought GM0VMZ at reasonably good signal strength. He told me that the reflector was down so no spots; possibly a good thing after I had realised I had to get off the hill fast. This was followed by G0HNW, G3RMD, GW0DSP and G4JZF. I put out a few CQ’s then qsy’d to 40m. Despite winding the power up to the full 5 watts I could not raise any body. I took the antenna down, packed away and headed off (no lunch even).
I was determined to get down to the track as fast as possible even though it would involve fording the river. The first safe descent is via a gully at NN722782 which brings you down to the deer fence surrounding the lodge; follow this fence south and west to join the track. The one crossing is fordable and the water just about reached the top of my boots – thank goodness for gaiters – and I was able to walk out with dry feet.
A measure of how tired I was - I couldn’t be bothered having a beer in the pub and was in bed asleep by 9pm only waking up at 7am on Sunday.
My apologies for anybody who wanted this new unique (and rare WAB square as well). I will try to re-activate it sometime when I can see the hill and enjoy the experience.