Well after a long time of fantasizing about SOTA I finally pulled my finger out and set a date to go. I told all my friends and everyone in my radio club and I was committed. The only problem was my radio when tested didn’t work properly.
It turns out that since I had built the UBitx transceiver I had never really bothered to use it, I always fell back to the 7300 as the ubitx was only built for portable work and I hadn’t done any. Well that and as a foundation license holder up until recently we weren’t allowed to operate home made equipment.
Anyways I had decided I was going and 3 days before I decided to test the rig on the weekly HF net. Well audio reports were not good, too bassy I was told so I removed my little preamp circuit from the mic and tried again after work on friday with a friend. Now I was told it was too tinny with no power. I set to fixing the issue and by 2100 I was at my wits end. I was almost about to put the 7300 in the pack when I got the issue sorted. By now it was around midnight and I had to be up to leave at 0400. I just stuffed everything in the pack and went to bed. Come 0400 I got up only to find it pouring rain. I quickly chucked a huutchi and my wet weather gear in the pack and drove off. I arrived at the starting point just before 0700 and the rain had miraculously stopped. I threw my pack on and started walking, the pack felt heavy but I thought I was just being a girl because I was tired (it turns out that when I got home and weighed the pack it was 18kg).
I crossed the river which was shallow for a change
and then proceeded to put the pedal down. We have had some massive fires here over the last few months but some sections had recovered well
I pushed hard and fast excited about my first go at SOTA. I had hiked this mountain before albeit with a very light pack so I knew what to expect. The hike is about 8.5km each way with an 850m elevation gain, hard work on a good day let alone after fires had caused trees to fall across the track everywhere. Here I am looking up from about 1/3rd of the way. You cant even see the peak yet.
And here I am still happy and in blissful ignorance of how overweight my pack was
This is a challenging trail on a good day but with a heavy fat pack getting through things like this vertical restriction is a task of determination
After some heavy cramps in the legs due to some serious walking and rock climbing I arrived at the top with not another soul in sight. I set up my squid pole and linked dipole and got to calling. It wasn’t 30 seconds and my friend VK2PEZ who was waiting patiently for me answered me. I didn’t even know about sotawatch so he put a spot up for me and from there it was a pileup. Over the next 45 minutes I worked my first ever DX contacts as well as about 24 others around VK. It was my first time and I was hooked. It was freezing at the summit and my fingers wouldn’t work anymore to log so I called it a success and packed up. I met another hiker then and he took some photos of me with the rig before I left. I also got some shots of the surrounding area. The big plateau mountain in the foreground is VK2/SC-046 which I went on to do a first time activation on in a gale a few weeks later but that’s another story.
I dropped my pack when lowering it off a small cliff on the way home and snapped my squid pole and destroyed my VHF handheld but that still couldn’t kill the buzz.
As of today I have now activated 3 peaks (2 first time activations) and am loving it. The ubitx isn’t the best radio but I have since heavily modified it from stock. My HF setup is now down to 3.3kg for everything, a huge difference from this first activation.