Summits on the Air Expeditions in Korea

Boxing Day in Bong Dong

There are many two- and four-pointers encircling the plains here that I’ve been overlooking so far when choosing destinations–actually, it’s probably like I’ve been looking over them when on previous activations. So, I have a nice bank of unactivated summits close by that aren’t high nor low, which is handy when the roads aren’t favorable, such as days like today. We did end up having a white Christmas here in Iksan, albeit last minute and after a leisurely afternoon cruise out in the countryside.

We got a bit of a late start getting out, meeting at the eastern 검문소 checkpoint of the city at noon (!) leaving a car (the one without snow chains in the trunk) there. Finding the trailhead was no problem and there were already four or five cars parked there. Now, the trail head /is/ clearly marked, make no mistake, yet there is another signage system also in place which sort of distracted us to the point where we ended up walking to the temple and taking a more roundabout route. That other thingy looked like some kind of more “local” (read: on site) trail system for which purpose (or product) I didn’t take note.

So, we walked up the road towards the temple (봉서사) while passing army training “play grounds.” The kids weren’t out today ;( but it was interesting, none-the-less to see what they get put through: climbing up the undersides (!) of giant ladders, not to mention the classics like wall climbing, the ropes and other imaginable tasks.

Additionally along the way was a 가든 restaurant with an area set up for water play, still in winter, no one playing [obviously] but in stead a large ice stalagmite partially in the trees and freestanding, about 20 to 25 feet high. Our friend (to the right) had also received a partial facial…

Upwards and onwards, just as you arrive at the temple the particular trail head we took is on the left, not the “logging track” that switches back but the small “goat trail” marked only by a few dusty ribbons. At the next small junction, we continued to the left (as opposed to the right which simply heads eastwards at the same elevation encircling the temple to the other side of the valley). Progressing this way, we reached the ridge (at roughly 500m) in quick time, meeting a more travelled trail giving the choice between 서방산 or 종남산, us taking the latter.

It was a speedy 2km run along the ridge to get to Jongnamsan’s summit at 608m passing two junctions (another trail leading back down to the Bong Seo temple and the other, our intended trail, from the location where the car was parked), and upon arrival searching for the best place to set up the kitchen and likewise the antenna. The wind had picked up and so Ji-hun was set to ramen-duty on the north side, and as the summit was forested by shorter, younger trees I was a bit limited in where I could freely swing the big yagi.

While setting up, I heard somebody calling for SED, though originally due to the similarity in voice to SED I thought it was SED. Turns out it was a friend of his in town at the train station not 10km away–so we had a short QSO then I got back to antenna business.

Well, it was good I had brought that as almost immediately after calling CQ I had a strong reply from Anyang more than 150km away, with 20 watts on my side. After having a nice contact the rest of my QSOs were local, though I didn’t go through the effort of lowering power in keeping the ease of contact high due to the quick change in weather: it had started to snow, and heavily at that.

After some cups of hot ramen and coffee alternatively, I started breaking down after the fourth contact, not wanting to be hiking back down in the dark. I had switched over to HT and QBE called me while I was packing up the antenna. We exchanged signal reports and weather details then we commenced our descent. Luckily, less than 0.02% of the descent was on our backsides (unlike some other hikers!) due to the freshly falling snow–arrival at the car closely coincided with sunset and auxiliary lighting wasn’t required until afterwards to put the chains on the car.

This evening I saw a Korean snow plow for the first time in my life out in Bongdong on the way back home–Iksan (last I knew) doesn’t even own one. A real first–and worth the money. Now only if we could have one in town… in the end, everyone got home and the mountain got activated. Next time we just won’t putz around until noon before going out! 73~


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