After my first month full time back at work, and seen my great time during my first activation, it was time to take a few days off and to try my luck at a new activation.
Last Friday, 15 February, I left home for an hour drive to reach ON/ON-013 (Bois de Hodinfosse). Passing Liege, snow was getting more and more present. Once I left the motorway to reach the parking, the snow was really getting impressive (at least for Belgium). I though I wouldn’t make it in the 10 to 15 cm snow that led to the picnic area where I could leave the car.
Once parked, I loaded my rucksack and started the 1,5 km climb to the reach the trig point. It was a beautiful walk in the snow covered forest, without a noise. Many deer and rabbit traces along the trail. Even a fresh fox trace. I took my time because of the heavy snow and the very uneven terrain, but also to enjoy this moment. When my GPS told me that I passed the trig point (hidden in the small firs), I started to search for a good location to setup my station. Finally a stump and some tall trees looked OK. It took me a good half hour to setup the antenna and the station. I now seem to get the knack of throwing my weight in the trees: on the second try the wire was in the chosen branch. Once the W3EDP was setup and tuned with the KX3, I sent my SMS self spot. And the pileup started… I was less overwhelmed then the first time. But keying the paddle with gloves (as thin as they are) is not easy and I am sorry for my poor sending. And I fear that my poor sending had an influence on my copying ability: had to make people repeat their call to be sure that I had them correctly in my log. After three quarter of an hour, the pileup was thinning out and I CL and broke up the station. 32 QSOs and even a S2S.
Once back at the car, I made my way to the next activation spot, ON/ON-010 (Baraque de Fraiture). This place is the contrary of the first summit: the place was packed with people that flocked to enjoy this well known and only Belgian downhill ski installation. Looking for a place to park my car and setup the station, I spotted the van and antenna of ON7ZC that was activating ON-010 in SSB just before me. I parked nearby and had a nice chat with Pierre and his buddy (don’t remember his name or call). They were breaking up. I started to setup up my station on some logs and string my W3EDP between my fishing pole and in a tree.
When I was ready to start calling CQ, a passing forest ranger (garde forestier) stopped by wondering what I was doing there with my fishing rod in the middle of the woods. We had a very nice chat and explained to him what it was all about. I hope it made sense to him but he really found it very interesting and amusing. Probably some good stories to be exchanged when he goes back to see his colleagues.
The weather was foggy and freezing and frost was depositing on trees and clothes. To add to the curious ambiance, several columns of WW2 era trucks and vehicles passed on the nearby road, probably going for a re-enactment rally in Bastogne. Ambiance was really like at that time.
I had (again) a lot of fun with this activation and am very grateful to all those chasers that allowed me to make a great day of it. The 5w and the W3EDP (non resonant) worked great. At least I was heard up to Norway or Austria (1000 km radius). When weather gets better, I’ll start working on improving/experimenting new antenna designs.
73 de ON4KJM, Jean-Marc