It was definitely a touristy weekend–hitting the must sees, picking up a rental car (SM5), watching “check transmission” messages flash across the dash an hour outside of town, running around to different garages, photo ops in front of this pagoda and on that bridge, rain showers, road construction, LDW, opened up restos and motels with A/C.
First stop was actually at Haeinsa Temple, on the southern slope of HL/GB-001 Gayasan, but with no ascent. Simply wandering around the grounds, investigating what we could of the Tripitaka Koreana through the wooden slats, and cold drinks. (Thanks, Zoom! You’re a good friend!)
We then completed the last leg to Daegu, found lodging, then 고기. Meat with the windows open–don’t we like that? The Koreans don’t take it out to the sidewalks like the Chinese do, but it’s better than completely inside.
The next morning, an early start for Sunday! ZLH came on by to pick me up on his way out of town, heading south into Dalseong County. We were originally aiming for a trailhead at 유가사 temple, but took a wrong turn at 중뫼 and ended up taking the ascent from the Recreational Forest entrance, thus instead of actually heading up to the main peak, we went up to Johwa Peak, which happens to be the secondary AZ just at 25m below the main peak.
Honestly it’s just as well, since the whole time we were engulfed in fog, we were lucky we could get a shot of the national weather administration’s radar tower (see left) visibility was so low. Before activating, we took a gander inside the tower, it’s open for visitors, and I’m sure commands a great view on clear days. Today we didn’t run into 6K5ZPC, who actually works here and has a station set up!
Additionally, the road which leads up to the radar tower (not everyone walks up!) terminates with the highest bridge in Korea! It’s not a mini bridge, either!
Once we set up, it started to rain again, lightly, but not so hard that we rushed through the activation. We had fun making a few domestic S2S contacts as well as giving a CQ Japan call out–with much success! All that on 2m with only an HT connected to the 5s GP!
Well, remembering that others were waiting at the bottom of the hill in town we couldn’t lollygag all day up there, so we went back down the same trail we came up, seeing many more hikers than during our ascent. On the road back into town we stopped to have some cow elbow soup….the cartilage is good for your skin, eh.
Arriving back in town and regrouping, we headed back to Iksan, to return the car and upgrade for a Grandeur. Filling the tank on that thing before was very painful (compared to the Pride), let me tell you!
The KMA does it again! The Tuesday morning hour-by-hour forecast had happy little suns all morning except for one hour when there was supposed to be a little rain. In fact, it was the exact opposite. At first it was sprinkling, but me, having checked the weather ahead of time, put off going up the trail until about 6:30. It was a constant drizzle until around the point on the map below where you see the track splitting off into a Y. From then onward, it was a full-fledged downpour! Upon arrival at an outcrop about 100m south to the summit it just stopped, giving me time to set up the 5 segment collinear and let my rain protection drip dry for a bit.
HL/JB-027 연석산 is located just to the west of HL/JB-017 운장산. Their proximity would make for a great double (or triple, if you include HL/JB-020 on the other side, there) activation, especially if you start a little higher up at Piam Pass, hit Unjangsan first (I believe the West Summit might actually be within the Activation Zone, maybe?), then mosey along the ridge down towards Yeonseoksan, to finish up around Yeonseoksa Temple on the 55.
This was a QRP activation, using only an HT with a LiPO pack to power it along I made some pretty good contacts, even down to Jeju! That made my day, especially not having to go at it with 50 watts like in the spring (from much closer to Jeju!) Otherwise the contacts were pretty much in line with what I can usually get (though not bad at all for a weekday morning). It wasn’t even half an hour that it started to rain again….time to break down!
Before making the actual descent, rather, on the way, I decided to verify the second AZ just to make sure it conforms with the rules, and well, it does. It’s not as spacious as the primary Activation Zone, but it isn’t too bad. I continued down along the way to make a tight loop while going down the same valley in which I came up, now once again, in the pouring rain.
I should mention that this valley has some fabulous chilling spots, from Madang Rock (Yard Rock, pictured above) to some swimming holes and water falls farther down, there are some nice nooks and crannies. If I weren’t already soaked to the bone by the time I made it back down I would’ve seriously considered taking a dip!
The second Sunday of the month is always a special one. Well, by the reasoning I’m about to present, technically every Sunday of the month is always a special one. It’s hamfest day! The second Sunday of the month just happens to usually be just a tad bit bigger and more bustling than the others, since it’s the hamfest (termed junk 정크 in proper Konglish) in Seoul, in the baseball field at Yonsei University. I like to go when I can, to pander the program and get people interested in SOTA.
Additionally, after this month’s market (July 10, 2011) was a SOTA presentation at the university, which HL1FB so graciously helped to get a room with projector for hosting the event and showing a power point presentation about the program.
Not only was that going on, but also since the main audience was the 6K0FA 청룡 Scout Troop, we planned a hands-on activity with HL1WOU (and DS2NED to help out) to make portable slim-jim antennas with the students for the 2-meter band which they could take home and use on their own hikes when operating portable.
After the antenna activity was complete, the scouts had another engagement to move on to, so I decided to head up the hill behind the University, HL/SL-008 Ansan, for a quick activation before what looked to be rain later in the evening.
It’s a nice short hill, one of the lower summits in the Seoul area, in what amounts to a city park for many who live on its peripheries. I went via one of the back access roads of the university to later descend on the opposite side by the metro station.
When I got up to the top, with a large stone tower and a few people hanging out, I thought it better not to set up the good antenna with all the dark clouds about, so I HT‘ed it so I could get out quickly when it did start.
Even more fun is that 6K2HVZ contact I had–was actually one of the scouts that had been in the group this afternoon!
Good thing I didn’t set up everything, as when I was finishing up my fourth contact, the umbrella came out! Eh, activation complete–hopefully next time it’ll be nicer out for longer. Back to the bus station it was, get a ticket and some goat cheese. Don’t see much goat cheese down in Jeolla, but we do see some goats sometimes….
…that about sums it up, out for an afternoon ride on the edge of a typhoon (Meari) with warm winds in all directions. With this year’s sort-of early start to the rainy season I was itching to go out, so ripped the mobile whip off the car and stuck it on the bike and headed out (there’s already SMA cabling and NMO mount installed on the bike). It’s nice and liberating to get around and make a contact or two with that minimal gear–
I wanted to take some new paths around the hills and so took a different approach up HL/JB-204 Manghaesan which has a good network of dirt as well as concrete tracks everywhere (besides for ordinary land management, also for the improvements made in the last year to upgrade it as a park not only with trails but adequate signage, furniture and educational displays).
Right as I was making the final ascent up the summit I heard DS3OMA in Daejeon calling CQ so when I arrived up top, caught my breath, broke into the QSO he was engaged in. Unfortunately, while I was in the middle of that contact my back light’s battery died and stopped blinking, with the weather as sketchy as it was and the falling darkness that sort of cut my ride short (I wanted to continue a bit to the north in the direction of HL/JB-201 Hamnasan, but it was not to be). Besides, it was a bit more than breezy on top which made the contact a little more difficult, if not more exciting (and kept the mosquitoes away!)
Anyways, a fun time for possibly the first /bm SOTA contact in Korea!
73 de HL4ZFA/bm
What a full day! Taking the first and last buses to make three appointments around town, morning, noon and night–who says there isn’t any time to fit an activation in there, somewhere. Four hour window? No problem.
Taking the metro from 신도림 over to Seoul National University, I started on my merry little way, goal: HL/SL-002 Gwanaksan. This way takes you up the western slope, dotted with boulders, and on this dry day was actually quite fun to climb! I’m not sure I’d like to go down via the same route, but it was a fun ascent.
As it’s a bit less travelled, finding the trail head took a bit of a walk, but upon finding it there were no problems. It’s necessary to go almost all the way to the southern end of the campus, going up the Tal, seeing those college-esque sights so common on a Saturday afternoon–banners being painted, bands sound-checking for some performance that evening, though didn’t see any books cracked open on the quad. Those photographers must be very skilled to catch Homo studentis in that habitat…
Arriving at the summit, with weather radars and broadcasting equipment occupying the site, I had to search a bit to find an ideal transmitting location of my own “in the shade.” I finally settled upon a spot just 30 seconds down from the summit on the north side, off the path and under a big rock. QRM down below S3…good enough.
Travelling light and principally with other objectives for the day in mind, I only had an HT, but is certainly doable in the Seoul Metro area. I made seven contacts, easily enough, before realizing what the time was and starting my descent to meet my next rendez-vous for supper before finally heading back down to Jeonbuk. More interestingly, I’d be seeing three of those seven contacts in the upcoming weeks!
I thought I was descending towards the north where there was a subway station at the end of the ridge, but I actually was going east, going together with another group. The path was much wider and worn than that of the one I took up, I was at least halfway down before I needed auxiliary lighting to see, listening to the evening ceremony sounds of the temple on the opposing slope. This path took me right down to Gwacheon station, from which it’s a short ride with only one transfer to get to the Express Bus Terminal. Nice.
So, you say, he definitely didn’t get a full night’s sleep–it was after midnight when he arrived back in town, right? Then there was a taxi ride across the city from Seoul Station over to Dongdaemun, and a few hours snoozing on the floor in the motel room (we sqeeze all that we can in there!)…
Well, let’s just leave it that after getting up and out, bustling over to Central City terminal to lock up the bags for the day and get some tickets for back home, back over to Myeong-dong/Namdaemun market, this time, I was still itching to walk about the park instead of the market with nothing specific to buy this Memorial day holiday.
What’s there to do in the neighborhood? Grab a bottle of water and head up to HL/SL-009 Namsan, bypassing the crowds waiting for the cable car and jetting up the steps. After all, it’s been just about a year (minus a month) since I’d last been around on this one pointer.
Once on the “summit” there are crowds and whatever you’d expect to see on a weekend, so I went slightly to the east to have just a wee bit of space to make some contacts. I must mention at this point, one of the ulterior motives for this 미니산행 was that DS1SLM was up activating HL/SL-001 도봉산 so I thought I’d oblige, give him some points while gathering some of my own…
In coordinating with SLM getting the contact was proving to be on the difficult side, in fact he claimed he could copy me quite well, though I could just barely receive him (we were both operating via HT). After a while, it dawned on me that my receiver was being overloaded from the broadcast tower, which Namsan is. Proceed to find a better place downhill, behind some object to provide some RF “shade”…this was hard, I was putzing around behind trees, stone walls and the like, when almost giving up, I tried heading back up the hill to under the tower.
Last year, without thinking, we simply sat down in the shade with some cold drinks (thanks, Zoom!) in the terrace café under the N-Tower, overlooking the city, the river, up to HL/SL-002 관악산, etc. Duh, we were perfectly in RF shade, directly under the antenna firing out horizontally. QRM was at peak S3, but mostly S0.
It was from this QTH that I had my final activating QSO with DS1PRD, across the river, discovering that he’s actually from the Iksan area! After that, I gave a few more CQs at 1W with no response before the battery was fully dead (remember that ultra-long hike yesterday?).
I’ve never really had the time to piddle around Namsan Park (still haven’t), so decided I’d descend via a different route, going more to the east to take the rubberized road down (the first time I took it, I went the wrong way). To this point, I still haven’t figured it out, actually. It’s not straight up or down, there are maps prominently posted along the way, but half of them in braille, not even any Korean side by side. In the end, I took a nice “short cut” of wooden stairs cutting through a ravine leading down through the trees.
This wasn’t before first paying a visit to the geographical center of Seoul, conveniently located smack-dab on top of the city’s mountain. Depending on who you ask, it could very well be the center of the universe ;p
Alas, a good way to unwind the rest of the way at the end of a three day weekend. Though, in all seriousness, my recommendation to future activators is just to chill on the terrace in the shade for a leisurely “armchair activation.”
So then, at the last minute we planned a day trip up to Seoul for this second weekend of February: the XYL would do some foreign food supplies shopping and I would hopefully meet up with a friend or another and hit a summit not yet hit.
Well, it seemed all possible peeps who could have maybe accompanied were either busy or out of commission, as unfortunate as that sounds, it allowed me to push my limits a bit and try to tackle two summits while out this time. For the occasion I chose HL/GG-044 수락산 and neighboring HL/GG-084 불암산, both two pointers and qualifying for winter bonus. I was thinking of HL/SL-001 도봉산, which has been on my to-do list for a while but was hesitant with the temperature not wanting to dilly-dally too much on that summit to scrape up contacts since from the standpoint of the city, it’s in the “shadow” of HL/GG-015 북한산 a bit…
Saturday morning we hopped on the first bus out of Iksan at 5:30 rolling into Seoul around 8–we grabbed a quick breakfast then went our separate ways, there are a few trail heads I could start at and I chose the one ascending from Jangam Station which passes by 석림사 temple. It took almost an hour to get to that point, so started my walk at about quarter after ten.
After leaving 장암역 and passing through the small neighborhood across the street host to many temptations but not limited to steamed corn and 닭발, as well as basically “last chance for eisen or turn back” stands if you forgot yours.
Next on the tour is 노강서원 Academy followed by 석림산 Temple itself, where you can see this very statue on the left.
This is the point where the trail actually starts and you leave concrete. For this portion, it runs along the southern side of the valley (the north facing slope) which means it was actually quite slippery, there had been enough thaw to have some water flow outside the stream on the banks then refreeze, so extra caution was needed. As a matter of fact, there was an ice-climbing/ice ax lesson underway in the middle of the frozen stream–being conducted in English which I thought to be very interesting. After a while and the trail reverting back to the other side of the stream, the trail condition improved very much.
Now, I arrived at the summit at exactly noon, and it was fairly crowded, with many people having come up from other trails. An appropriate spot was scouted out after the obligatory stele shot, exposed yet out of the wind (there was almost a nest-like depression in the rock) and out of the way.
For both of the activations today I didn’t spot myself, instead relying on the population to support my cq calls–and for this first hour basically had a steady stream of contacts without having to revert much at all to the main calling channel, but switching once to the HL9 calling channel at 145.6 to dip my toes in that stream and have a QSO in English (weird!) 😉
At 1:30 (when I realized what time it was) I packed up quickly to get along to my next goal of the day, with the day’s supper appointment later on in mind. As I was weaving between the many rocks on top of this hill (they’re huge!) I started talking to the members of the 건실회 hiking club as I was taking a panorama photo of said rocks. We had a few laughs, took a few photos, then started heading down, later splitting paths as they descended and I continued along the ridge towards Bulamsan.
Continuing along the ridge with a gentle descent was pleasant enough, until I came to a fork where some others were coming up from the wrong way, I inquired as to which direction for my goal with them responding to go down their trail–well, Alice, it wasn’t the right one, but it did lead down to Heungguk-sa Temple with an impressive collection of statues. I then reascended and continued along the correct route, over the pass road and up 불암산.
Of course, this story wouldn’t be complete with something rolling down hill, so, on my way up to this summit I had paused for a snack (MRE “snack bread” in fact, a modern day “pilot biscuit”) and washing it down with some caffè corretto. However, as I stood up to move along, did I hear the metallic contact with rock as the thermos slipped out of the still open back pocket and down the path. Luckily there weren’t any human targets in its path, and I didn’t have to mosey too far down to fetch it.
Now the ascent from the northern slope of this summit can please or displease you depending on your personality, circumstance or time allotment. It was four o’clock as I crossed over the pass, with an hour of climb time, and then an hour and a half before sunset. This is one of those multi-bong climbs, where you think you’re reaching the summit and it turns out to be a minor summit, you go to the next and alas, it’s just another bong, and so on and so forth. When you’re watching the clock it isn’t the most pleasant surprise.
Finally, got to the last one, up the stairs to the pile of rocks on top and found a nice crevice where I could operate from out of the wind and have the antenna mounted higher up and exposed. I made it a point to make this activation short due to the light situation, rapidly got five contacts, packed up and re-descended. Below this major summit was a 막걸리 tent and as there were multiple routes and even two that go to two subway stops I asked about which stop to head towards, Danggogae or Janggye, with another person there who had just asked the same thing. Janggye was it so there was no hesitation as we [very] quickly departed.
Going down on the west side was much more convenient with no ice at all on the trail (sun exposure) and we had a chance to witness the sunset upon Bukhansan. We chatted along the way down but I had to forgo the 막걸리 at the bottom as it was already almost seven with another hour of subway ahead of me before I could even consider dinner 😦 but it was quite enjoyable. Next time, definitely. 73–
Well, things have changed. Due to this short week before (lunar) New Year’s, I had some free time from 3 PM onwards today the last day of January, so drove out to good ol’ Samgi to wander about on some new paths and do an HT activation. Having intended on using QBE’s 2S mobile whip to augment signal, I actually broke one of my connectors (loose, not radio-side, phew!) in the parking lot before departure, so I was relying more on spotting than pure CQs this evening.
I took some alternate parallel trails to the C Course, though in essence, the same trail (but skipping a big road segment spending more time in the woods). A few dozen people were out walking, but post-activation I believe I was last one off the summit (no sightings on descent, plus arrival at an empty parking lot).
So, over the course of an hour I managed five contacts while observing the sun set. The weather was ok, trails fairly clear, and not much breeze to speak of, except at certain points on the summit. Due to the timing, most of the contacts were mobile–I’m not usually out on the trails at this time.
Anywho, it’s done. Now, we’ll see what I can do during the long (5 day) New Year’s break…
It’s the pre-Krampüs special:
모악산 is always there, whether or not you can see it off in the distance through the haze. I’ve been saving it in my “reserve” of closer summits for when I don’t have the time to stray too far away. It’s one of those more recognizable summits (like Maisan, or Mireuksan and the like). Some are easily identified by sheer height above the others, their isolation from the range, physical shape or man-made structures installed upon their summit(s).
HL/JB-048 Moaksan fits into a little bit of everything of the above: like Mount Mireuk it’s a tad-bit distanced from the others, it’s high (on the order of almost 800m, which it does actually hit if you are standing on the rooftop of the KBS broadcasting building on the summit), and it’s got big blocks of concrete and more antennas than you can shake a stick at.
True, these huge block structures are painted in camouflage, which by definition, has its purpose in trying to hide something or pretend it’s not there, but I’m sorry folks, even from 30 km (or more!) away across the plains I can see that pile of glowing equipment without my glasses. Need I mention I can’t always read the bottom three rows of those eye charts (which, just this very week I did, at the DMV in Jeonju).
So, with all that said, this was kind-of a last minute activation: I was (once again) at the DMV in Jeonju to pass their video-game-esque course test, when I thought I’d go out afterwards for a quickie one-pointer activation on one of the nearby summits, keeping it to one point while waiting for the winter bonus to kick in after next week for all things two points and above. There are some shorties just to the west of Moaksan on the order of 400m, and on my way to a no-namer, thought to myself “self, UK SOTA has its bonus period already starting this week, maybe ours does, too.” So, I pulled over, pulled out the ARM I have in the trunk to verify, and, d’oh! It does! Looking at the cloudless sky it took no more than ten seconds to decide on going to the eastern trail head on Moaksan instead of this little no-namer.
Wait. Stop press–this isn’t fair, even though it may not have a name a present, it doesn’t make it any less important. It is, after all, probably twice the height of Namsan in Seoul, though probably doesn’t see even 1% of the visitors Namsan does. Alas, we’ll give it a number, HL/JB-159. Great, now it’s nothing more than a number! Whatever, it won’t be happy until I personally go up there to find out if it has a name…
Anyways, I thought this’d be easy–on a day like today (I was in short sleeves from halfway up on the mountain, including summit), a Saturday, almost afternoon, it’ll be easy to get some good contacts. I was feeling especially perky, and even brought up the Yagi. Damned good thing I did! Up top, I couldn’t hear a thing. I called CQ with the HT for ten minutes from top of the KBS building, sent out some SMS spots, nothing. Completely illogical.
I decided to move over to 남봉, the southern summit with a helipad, less folks crawling around, more ease in setting up the Yagi, and still in the AZ at 775m. Moseyed on over there, at the same time finding out by text that DS1SED was also on his way up to the summit, as well as hearing on the phone that people could hear me–I just couldn’t hear them. Bizarre. Set up the antenna, and started calling.
During the next hour, only five QSOs were managed–all local. Switching over to the VX-170, I discovered that there was S2-S9 noise on most of the channels, and on some I could hear the TV/radio audio quite clearly. That’s my problem–it must’ve freaked out the V-6R or something. I found it odd I couldn’t even get DS4RDY–who’s always very overpowering and crystal clear…he evidently could hear me. So, QRM-wise, this is not a recommended radioing summit, except during a blackout–but then what would WX conditions be like up there? Plus, the site appears to have multiple generators…it doesn’t look like that’ll be happening too soon…
I broke down the setup at 3 PM, and took the ridge trail back down (slightly longer, and the windy conditions of that morning were gone). In the end, that little quickie turned out to eat up the whole day…either way, I can say I’ve done it now. With those QRM conditions up top, I’m not sure how eager I’ll be to go back too soon, though.
PS. Evidently, I truly wasn’t alone that day (I mean, besides looking at the full parking lot). In addition to DS1SED who was on 북봉, Ji-hun was on the summit no more than 30 minutes before me (strange we didn’t cross paths, but there are many parallel off-shoots and resting places) as well as geocacher hkbaik who placed a cache on the very trail I ascended…
All to breach the 100 point barrier–and well before Christmas! As the “mini-ascent” to JB-007 삿갓봉 only added 2.4 km to the total of my walk and I had just the right amount of daylight left to get it done, it was quite the deal.
It was important to get out before dark as it this was in Deogyusan National Park, and they don’t like folks doing night hikes (liability, etc) so even though the trail was not very rough at all and I had adequate lighting I’d have to deal with closed gates and such to get out, or sleep at the shelter (which I happened to pass thrice total due to my routing up via the Sakatgol valley/pass trail). If one chose to sleep at one of the many shelters provided, it would be quite easy to knock off 40 points in one weekend outing along the Deogyusan ridge, possibly even more–the facilities are cheap, manned, with limited food as well as other services available.
I made the requisite 4 contacts, took the obligatory summit shot, and quickly scuttled back down–it was 4 PM already and I had roughty 1.5 hours of descent from there… 3 out of those 4 QSOs were actually S2S to other hikers, up to Songnisan, Gayasan, and another mountain in Geochang, nearby. Unfortunately, 6K5ASG/p Gyeong-il at Gayasan was already an hour into his descent when we made contact, he was at 서성재 pass, well out of the AZ, but maybe 6K5CGB/p Ahn-seup in Geochang might provide me with some chaser points on this second summit (S2S pointage w/CB-014 was already claimed a couple of hours ago from Muryuongsan, and 6K2GZJ/p Tae-in was also just starting his descent.). We’ll see once I get more details.
All in all, successful, although I had to leave immediately after activation…
When I returned to the village at the bottom of the mountain, the field of cabbage I had passed by on the way up now only evidenced massacre.
Merci Fabi le fif pour le cigare!
Now, as it’s “fire season” (nice and dry with lots of tinder laying about the countryside) many smaller “private” mountains are off-limits for the next few weeks, so one of my better options was to hit a national park, which remains open (and usually has some kind of surveillance system for fires and other such emergencies, also) a bit longer (I believe Deogyusan Nat’l Park‘ll be closed or at least restricted in some areas from November 15th to December 15th).
So, looking at the maps, trails, and elevation changes, I figured I could possibly make this outing really count (especially since it’s a little over an hour, one way, plus five bucks in tolls, to get to the trail head), and hit two different summits, time (sunshine) permitting, hitting the closest (Sakatbong) then Muryongsan, if possible. In the end, upon seeing what my real trail times were, I decided to hit Muryongsan first as it was the one that was “farther out” and slightly higher.
Getting started was a bit rough here, as I didn’t want to lug the big yagi all the way up the hill….a bit of a mistake. It appeared as if nobody could hear my signal. I did some tests between the two HTs and the different duckies and turns out the stock was better than my Diamond….must be something wrong there…and that the VR-6 was more sensitive than the VX-170 by one or two S points. After a few big groups stopped on the summit, ate lunch and whatnot, I finally started to get some contacts, must’ve been the timing or something… Had some so-so signal reports, however when I started making summit-to-summit contacts, the reports skyrocketed–so, my conclusion is the people on the ground with their systems in the Nebel maybe needed some adjustment.
As I was packing up, I left a little Geeocashee treat for future travellers passing through…
To top off the list of QSOs from this summit, before heading down and over to JB-007 Sakatbong, I heard 6K2GZJ/p starting to call CQ from CB-014 Songnisan. Though having heard of SOTA, he was still new to the business, so I gave him some pointers, though I was pleased to hear his strong (5W, 59++) signal over the 85 or so kilometers that separated us. In the meantime, I walked away with 10 chaser points 😉
And…for you GIS-heads out there, trig point trivia!
삼각점 literally means “triangle point” in Korean
Likewise for weather, time and location, 도 = degrees, 분 = minutes and 초 = seconds.
높이 is a reference to height, whereas 해발 is height above sea level (as is indicated by 해, sea).
Alas, I’m back out in the wild again after a couple weeks’ worth repos–I went down to Hamyang to check out this less frequented ten pointer called Gyegwansan. This area is quite convenient for me, as just recently (at the end of 2007) this new section of highway 20 was opened–it goes right from Iksan IC (technically, Iksan JC, 2 km south of Iksan IC on the 25) down to the 35 at Jangsu, in the heart of the mountains, at the bottom of Deogyusan National Park, and likewise this area makes good apple country.
–utz! Not so quick, there! For a few reasons:
Finding the trail head wasn’t an easy task, in fact, going up, I didn’t find it. I was half following a deer track (with some recent prints), some gullies, and found an older marked path (white paint on trees) which may be what was on my older map on the gps…after about 200m of ascent (up to about 700/800m) I finally found “the real” trail, or at least, that which is most beaten and ribboned.
The other trail was passable, though slightly overgrown, and more difficult in some places (even though it ran 50-100m down the hill parallel to the beaten path). Maybe two minutes after getting on this main path, did I come across an older couple out looking for 산채, wild mountain veggies. They asked me why I was going up so early (it was already an hour after sunrise)…ahem, I almost didn’t make it down to the car before sunset!
As of April 7, 2009, Hamyang-gun (county) announces the change of Goaegwansan 괘관산(掛冠山) to Daebongsan 대봉산(大鳳山), additionally of Cheonhwangbong 천황봉(天皇峰) to Cheonwangbong 천왕봉(天王峰), and naming of the western peak as Gyegwanbong 계관봉(鷄冠峰).
This is to reflect locally familiar names to this mountain and its peaks, as well as nomenclature of Korean origins, whereas Goaegwansan and Cheonhwangbong were assigned during Japanese colonial rule, Cheonhwang 천황 giving hommage to the Japanese Emperor, as opposed to Cheonwang 천왕 to the Korean. Gyegwanbong refers to the shape of the mountain’s profile which resembles a chicken’s crop.
Arriving at Bukhansan Fortress for the last 50 meters of ascent, I seriously felt like I was waiting in line for a ride at Everland–a long line of people snaking up (and down) the summit, inching along at intervals, to push past the protest monument at the summit and shoot a summit photo…yes, up to that point there had been many people on the trail, or rather, expressway, leading up the mountain. Just at the trail entrance where we entered, we let a group of 81 pass before weaseling out the geocache located there and signing the log.
Even though I brought the Yagi, I quickly discovered there wasn’t much real estate on the summit to put it together, so this was an HT only activation. It was my first activation using the newly acquired VX-6R, but man, that thing gets hot quickly! I had taken out the battery and was using the LiPO externally to power it, but it was still hot to handle, subsequently causing me to lose the PTT mid-transmission sometimes…had I been using a better antenna, I could’ve lowered the power (in my tests with the lower power settings, the signal reports were not good).
I managed to have a double eyeball at the summit itself, as is evidenced above, with DS2SHC (with whom I’ve made a S2S before, from Songnisan) and HL1IWZ. SHC happened to be at the bottom of the mountain and responded to one of my CQ calls, informing me he’d be up top within the hour. Additionally, I had two S2S contacts (both to GG-044!) with HL1KFB and DS1RRG.
Spotless blue skies told me to go out and get sunburned today. No, really, I actually didn’t get burned, but I did go out to Bongsilsan, located in Bongdong. I had the time to bike out there (25km, not including wrong turns, finding a geocache, etc). I had a hard time finding the trail head…there were intermittent signs indicating where to find it, differing views in the village about where there is and isn’t a path, plus a military fence at some points at the foot of the mountain. So, even though I left YeongDeung-dong at 11 o’clock, I didn’t actually start hiking until maybe 14:30.
It’s a pretty quick hike to the top, though steep and rocky, still fun. Due to my transport situation, I didn’t bring the yagi…I should’ve! I got half (two!) of my QSOs via SMS spotting, and the other two only after insistent CQing, all with the HT. Most stations were mobile, though I could hear them well they had trouble hearing me. So, since DS4QBE was going to be picking me up at the bottom of the hill to go geocaching in Jeonju with him, DS1SED, DS5DYM, DS5SQS and a whole slew of others (we were 13 around the table at the bibimbap resto) to be followed by makeoli, I had to start back down the hill immediately after my fourth contact.
I operated from the second highest summit–it was so cute–there was a mini-helipad! (there was another on the main summit, too). This second summit (of 366m) is south of the main summit, and has more “view” on the populated areas. There were some other people up on the hill, but not many (it doesn’t rank high, or at all, on the popularity lists…) it’d surely be dead during the week.
JB-004, 남덕유산. One and a half hours on the road. No traffic. Three hours up. Who knows how many stairs. One thousand five hundred and seven meters. Six hours on the summit. A few odd looks. Five Watts. Six Elements. Fourteen complete QSOs. A number of partial QSOs. A few (two confirmed) S2S QSOs. Less than two hours down. Two hours back home on the road. One load of laundry. A night of sleep.
It’s September, and what does that mean? It means it’s time for the Ginseng Festival! So, we said we wouldn’t miss it again this year (we haven’t gone yet) and went, not without doing an activation beforehand on Jinaksan, overlooking Geumsan.
After yesterday’s activation on Cheonhosan JB-140, I was wondering what was up with the 40m out on my rig. So I did some tests with DS4QBE and DS4PQV, and turns out there is nothing wrong. Good! I’ll try again on this next activation, I thought.
Up on the summit, I set up, right by the fire services repeater (only place where I could get just a bit of shade right on top, since everything was trimmed well (due to the Helipad). 40m was relatively quiet, noisewise, and the signals were good. I tried calling CQ, even with spots, no takers. I tried responding to other calls, didn’t work either. So, I retuned the antenna for 20m and had at that.
I relatively quickly (after wasting about an hour on 40m) made four contacts, that is there were about only four stations (that could hear me) on 20m. There was an “All Asia” contest going on, so everybody was exchanging their ages ( as per their rules). First contact was to Taiwan, and the other three were all Russian stations. Got good signal reports on all of them. At this point, the XYL wanted to start heading back down the mountain, so as she left, I started to pack up the HF operation. During that time, I made one QRPp 500mW contact with a friend of a friend, who happened to be at the festival, in town. I tried looking for him later on, but he had gone to another part of town when we were at the festival. Afterwards, I couldn’t make any more contacts on 2m, so decided to head down myself.
All in all, a good activation, with a pleasant drive over and through 운일암 반일암 (rocks in a creek).
Left Iksan at 3am to meet Taek (who we met on the boat coming back from Dandong, China, at the beginning of the month) and climb Songnisan. 1058m. 8 points. An HT. An antenna I can’t use. A hat forgotten in the car. Likewise an antenna mast left in the back seat, too. A full LiPO battery. No camera battery. One low cell phone battery. One presumably full cell phone battery (actually 100% dead). One person of the three in the party who split off and took the wrong trail. 2L of Pocari Sweat. The smell of stale Makeoli wafting off the rocks. I think you get the idea…
The interesting aspect of this activation was the two activation zones (4km apart from each other) as well as the (to be verified) impressive distances made via a simple HT running at 5W with no special antennas (apart from the non-stock Diamond-6dB-better-than-a-duckie). I made a few (4!) S2S with GW-004 (x2), GW-206 and GG-015. Now, none of these people were operating “SOTA” so I’m not sure of their access or precise locations on the summits (in the AZ, etc) but from taking a quick look at some of their web pages, these might be legit activations. We’ll see….(if so, that’ll make 22 chaser points for just one day!)
***EDIT***Verified some of those S2S potentials, SHC is in, GRP/GFM unfortunately not. While they were operating portable using a 50W mobile rig that they dragged up top, they were on the helipad of Hambaeksan which is at ~1530m, out of the AZ by about 20m (they were trying to get out of the way of the big antenna signals on the very top…) Next time!
Took the new bike that just arrived today for a mini-activation on nearby 망해산…only took the HT so didn’t have many bites (only 3) subsequently not getting the single point for this summit… …maybe I’ll be back to collect later. It was almost nightfall when I left, so decided on having some 순두부 찌개 with DS3FOV once back in Iksan.
I could ride the logging roads almost up to the summit (200 of the 230m) where there were not one, not two, but three helipads! (as well as a few tombs….with a view…)
I managed to pull off an early morning 8 pointer activation this morning before class on Unjangdae (1126m, within the AZ of Dongbong which has 1133m) just barely squeaking by with 5 QSOs (it was a weekday morning, after all).
I did manage to shoot a lot of better footage this time, so there will be a decent video out later…
Gotta get that antenna up there somehow!
Just barely squeaked by with 4 QSOs (it was at dinnertime and my antenna was polarized the wrong way)…it was a trial for the new antenna I just received that afternoon from DS1DAT made by DS1DFK.
I also discovered that there’s a fortress wall on top of this mountain, as well as a mini-military installation. Emphasis on the mini. Obviously no photos of that. However, we do have some shots of the fortress renovations underway…
Good to know: The mountain is more or less “closed” on Mondays and days following holidays to protect the nature and let it rest (and to kick out the partyers who overstay their welcome). There is military there, so don’t be put off by the fences, barbed wire and cameras…That’s on the approach from Gyeongbukgung Station (which seems to be the main approach, but not that evident) as opposed to Muakjae Station (shorter ascent, harder to find trail head).
There will be a video in the future, of course.
73 de HL4/W2VLA/p1