The day before was a disappointment not because of the locations or the stunning views or the weather (other than being a bit too hot) but because we did not achieve what we wanted and we were making everything difficult. To get back on track we decided to attempt what appeared to be two easier summits, Pelados (CT/AL-002) and Serra de Mú (CT/BT-001), on a loop northeast of Albufeira. This would also activate a second region in Portugal for us.
Pelados was an hour’s drive from where we were staying in Albufeira with caches on the way through the hilly countryside and a route that took us on the longest road in Portugal, N2. We parked off the road at N37° 18.523 W7° 57.653 at the bottom of a track leading to some transmitters towers at about 10am and it was already over 30°C. A gentle walk up to the summit led to some expansive views across the undulating landscape.
The parking and short route up to the summit (CT/AL-002)
We set up by the fence at the end of the transmitter buildings by the trig point which was a bit of a mistake as we did not sit in the shade. Helen started 20 m handing over whenever there was strong station or a summit to summit. She managed 15 contacts with 2 summit to summits into France and Italy with me taking over on 17 m with a further 5 contacts. Propagation was very poor with lots of deep and rapid QSB.
Our activating location by the trig-point and tower
Looking south from where we activated
It was at this point that Helen decided to take some photos but the phone was so hot the camera did not want to work! We then realised that everything was uncomfortably hot to the touch so moved the amp and radio into the shade (including ourselves) to cool. It confirmed that we should start much earlier in the morning, starting walks at sunrise to avoid the heat and drive on summits afterwards, expecting the best propagation to be before mid-morning. We decided we would still do the next one as it should have been simple.
The view east
The view northwest
The view west
With everything cooled, we took pictures, found the geocache on the top and retreated to lovely air conditioned car for the short drive to our second summit.
We arrived at Serra de Mú (CT/BT-001) and drove up the track to the large trigpoint and fire lookout towers parking next to the fire warden’s van. She poked her head out of the tower but was otherwise disinterested in what we were doing. We setup first in the shade at the base of an old lookout tower under a big transmitter tower. With everything connected we saw S9 of noise on both 20 and 17 metres unable to hear anyone across the bands. Worried something had failed, we packed up and retreated down the track somewhat away from the towers (but still in the activating zone) to confirm.
Our initial activation spot that proved too noisy
The view west from the old watch tower overlooking the trig-point and some of the wind turbines
The new watch tower from the top of the old watch tower
We parked up on one side and set up on the other sheltered by some trees on some very rough ground but at this point we had purchased a light thick beach mat that made this possible. Thankfully the noise was less and the activation could begin. I started on 20 m and managed 12 contacts handing over to Helen to get her 4 QSOs but conditions were not good. We tried 17 m but with no response.
A semi-successful day but we still needed to organise ourselves better and the plan was to activate the 3 summits to the northwest of the Algarve the next day to get back on track (having only done 3 of the planned 12 so far),
Equipment used: FT-817 running 2.5 W into a HF Packer Amplifier providing about 20 W into a linked quarter wave vertical for 20 m and 17 m
8 full days from 28th July to 4th July 2023 with 12 summits activated, including an unactivated summit in EA7/CA, with 310 contacts (22 s2s) for G6WRW and 112 contacts (15 s2s) for M0YHB (422 contacts in total) over 9.5 hours of operating
Also 1800 km driven, 35 geocaches found and a day in Gibraltar
Day 5 - Gibraltar