Third day into our break and we had started to get customised to the heat of the day and get a feel for the propagation. As the temperature climbed quickly by mid-morning, and stayed hot all day, the most prudent course of action was to get any walks out of the way early. Three summits were chosen for our experiment.
Sela (CT/AL-008) was to be the first of the day around a 50 minute drive north. An early start had us at the parking at N37° 18.869 W008° 22.690. This was before sunrise in the surprisingly cool fresh morning air.
The walk into Sela, on a quad-bike track, first takes you up and around a hill, which obscures the objective, before dropping into a col. You pass some bee hives to the right and take a trail to the left and then on to the final climb to the trig-point at the top. The walk in is 25 minutes-ish.
The route up Sela (CT/AL-008)
Helen strides off towards the col
The beehives tucked away
The view looking northwest from the trig-point
There were too many bushes around the trig-point to see a convenient place to set- up so we retreated back to the track. By now we had got back into the swing of getting things ready quickly. By the time I had the antenna up, Helen had the radio and amp powered up ready to go. By now we had also got our estimated alert-times for starting sorted.
Our working position and antenna below the trig-point
Starting on 20 m, we had a very quick run of callers before the whole band went quiet. We then switched over to 17 m where the unusual contacts were made. First unique caller was Dave (G4AKC) bicycle mobile on Blackpool seafront with an extremely good signal (G4AKC – HF Pedestrian and Bicycle Mobile). This was followed by Greg (VK8GM) on the “long-path”, a summit to summit with OE8ACT/P, then a ”shopping-trolley mobile” with James (MW0JHC). This is one of the things I love about amateur radio, you have no real idea who you will get to chat too. The heat of the day to come was just showing so time to pack away and move on. We had been on the summit for just under an hour and a half. The walk back was uneventful but took just as long as the sun started to beat down.
The walk back to the car
Second summit Picota (CT/AL-004) was not too far away to the west. After the sat-nav tried to send us up a dirt-track a quick change of way-point had us on the right, twisty, narrow road. Just below the summit is parking for 3 or 4 cars. At the top of Picota is the now obligatory trig-point and a fire-watch tower. To get to the summit either track round to the right from the car park or do as I did, take a more direct route. I waved to the fire-warden as we arrived on the top but other than this we were ignored.
The start of our walk to the summit of Picota (CT/AL-004) looking up to the trig-point and fire lookout with the fire warden’s van in front
This was the first summit that I couldn’t find any loosed rocks to tie the guy-lines too but three strategically placed shrubs fitted the bill nicely. By now the mid-morning propagation doldrums had started but we both still qualified easily in the half hour or so we stayed. Again the amp and radio began to get too hot to touch. Helen went down a longer route to grab a cache while I packed up and met her back at the car.
The view from our activation position
The view back to the car
One last look at the summit
The last summit was a Drive-on SOTA, the highest in the Algarve, Serra de Foia (CT/AL-001). This was the first summit that we couldn’t get close to the trig-point because it is within the military radar compound, which we wanted to be as far away from as possible. We decided to set-up in the corner of the main carpark well away from people but with no shade. As it was we spent an hour operating with enough contacts for both of us, 20 m being the best band, but suppressed. I squeezed 4 on 17 m. We had a snack and a drink in the café then visited the summit shop. The person who served us asked if we had been able to talk to many people; we had been noticed as had previous visitors.
The busy summit of Serra de Foia (CT/AL-001)… antennas one way…
and antennas (and a military radar) the other way
The view south including the International Racetrack of the Algarve near Portimão
We had now started to get acclimatised to the heat, covered ourselves with copious amounts of sunscreen and carried and consumed loads of water throughout the day. We were starting to enjoy this holiday and it looked like we might reach our objectives. Six summits done, six more planned,
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