You may remember last year when I mentioned how much of a ______ going up the east side to get to HL/JB-058 만덕산 was….sliding up shale, etc, etc….well, though I technically took the better trail up this time, I actually didn’t, having taken the wrong fork not very high up. The result of which was going through an open field trail infested with spiders (you know, by the time August hits, the mommas’ bellies full’o’babies are larger than your thumb), then another shale-y scramble up a deer trail, until finally hitting a decent ridgeline trail.
This time also, I took the 857 since it was a weekday….need the extra push, sometimes. It was worth it, getting some contacts farther out to the south and northeast. Getting up to the summit, it looked like someone had been doing some trimming up there, and signage needs a slight upgrade…. Using the 5s GP, quick work was made for the activation, it was after all, a school day, no time to fool around.
Descent was accomplished via the correct trail, which will be remembered for next time. Maybe next time will be fall or winter, when a machete wouldn’t be necessary…
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!
For my first ever activation in Busan, and final activation for the long weekend, I chose to pick my fight with 금정산 HL/BS-001, the highest summit in the Busan metropolitan area. Activating this summit, Godangbong, pushed me over the 200-point mark–and it’s surprising how much more quickly that second batch of one hundred points seemed to pass by than the first one (though the time frame is roughly the same)!
고당봉 is located at the northern end of Geumjeong fortress, and I chose to access it via Beomeosa temple, first taxiing it up to the temple then catching the path there for the remaining 3 or so kilometers to the top, passing through the north gate, aptly named 北門. Skipping the bottom leg of the trail was partly because of time constraints as well as to not use all my energy before the next day’s (Sunday) ARDF event also being held at the fortress. I now know that this was a good move since down below it was much hotter, even as far up as the temple, but once I was about 200m higher than the temple the temperature was much more tolerable and fresher.
For the walk itself, I wasn’t sure what to expect, as the particular reviewer who had covered this part of the “Busan experience” in the Lonely Planet Korea took, let’s say, a negative stance, basically dissing anything and everything about the mountain and surrounding fortress. While from my only previous experience of Busan I can’t say I gave the best evaluation of the city either, however when wandering around this area (for two days, at that! Including the ARDF on Sunday) I have to say that I liked the fortress, and found the facilities to be perfectly adequate. I was duly impressed by the city’s efforts at renovation, plus the “solar trail markers,” but I’m still trying to figure out why, exactly, they were solar (I wasn’t around late enough to see if they lit up or anything)… Maybe the person was expecting a cable car to the top, a kiddie train, and a changing of the guards enactment to videotape with a shaky hand never to watch again as grading criteria.
This was planned to be a VHF-only outing for a couple of reasons, one with the intention of a S2S contact with DS2NED on HL/CN-004 O-seosan, and also to make some local contacts in the area. Additionally, since it was a Saturday afternoon, chances were good that somebody else out and about on a mountain somewhere would have an HT turned on.
Upon arrival at the peak and photo shoot I set up the 2 segment mobile whip I was to use and set about scanning the dial, firstly looking for DS2NED. While scanning the lower segment of the 2m band (in SSB) I came across a signal, which was actually HL5BSS having a QSO in AM with someone else who I couldn’t hear–I tried to make contact but wasn’t too successful. Though that was an interesting experience. Moving back up again in FM, I came across NED‘s voice, and sure enough it was him, coming in 58 from the top of Oseosan. I got in line and had a quick contact with him before he took a break to have a bite to eat, said he could pick me up at about 57 over there. Not too bad, as it’s almost opposite ends of the country!
Over the next couple of hours I had a steady stream of contacts all around, west to Gimhae and Changwon, north over Ulsan and Gyeongju all the way up to Pohang and towards Daegu, not to mention down town with a bunch of locals. I also had some QSO’s with a bunch of OPs who I’d see on Sunday at the ARDF race, including a few who were out setting up the course around the fortress for the event in advance. I would’ve kept going but was already late for the planned dinner arrangements so had to cut things off at 6 o’clock (and the battery wasn’t near dead yet!) and head down the hill back into town…
Upon approach to the north gate in scaffolding, it was plain to see people were hard at work here. There was a caterpillar moving rocks up and down the wall to the east of the gate. On the other side (the inside) was the indication (on the right) indicating the phases of renovation that the fortress is undergoing (will undergo) until 2026 (that’s a ways away!). There was also a stone shop where they were cutting and chipping new stones for the fortress walls. It seemed as if they were using a rock saw for the basic shapes then chipping them down to size in addition to giving the blocks a more rustico appearance.
While at this workshop I got to see the “forest fire horse,” a man (ranger?) riding the trails on the horse sporting a “산불조심” emblazoned banner over its mane.
Its tip composed of a huge granite mass, this peak of Godang-bong was named after Gomo, a goddess of heaven, who according to a legend based on Taoism, came down here to become the goddess of the mountain (there is still a praying place called Gomodang near the very top). This is the highest of about ten peaks on Mt. Geumjeong with a huge dragonhead-shaped stone called Yongduam at its breast part and a shallow well called Godangsaem at its southern waist part. At its eastern waist part lies a spring called Geumsaem or Geumjeong [金井] (which literally means ‘a golden spring’). A legend says that a golden fish came down from the world of Brahma [梵天:Beomcheon] in a five-colored cloud and lived in the ‘golden spring.’ The names of the mountain (Geumjeonsan) and the temple (Beomeosa) originated from this legend.
You know you’re in a farming town when you’re out in the street at 5:30 am and you see more people out than you’d see at lunchtime…folks milling about, rambling down the street on their tractors, etc. Sangju decidedly has two crowds: the locals and everybody else (tourists and whatnot). I wouldn’t expect to see the others out of doors until after nine. In fact, my little tourista 😉 wasn’t up until ten, let alone out the door.
Anyways, I left the “Big Pine Motel” (sounds really redneck, eh? literally : 큰솔장) early to get a quick [unplanned] activation in at HL/GN-074 금산. The intention was to do this yesterday, but due to the holiday and everybody who was out, I couldn’t even get to the main parking lot, or even the ticket booth! Traffic jam at Geumsan! We just turned around. This morning, cruising up the road, I had the place all to myself, saw very few souls, and not until reaching the upper parking lot. That’s in fact the reason why this was set aside for a quickie not to get in the way of things too much: there’s a nice road leading up to a secondary parking lot at about 600m ASL.
Now, why a mountain would have a lot that high up is beyond me, but the Bori-am Hermitage there is quite the popular destination. I know, the engineer who planned the place with paved roads and parking lots should be shot as he clearly couldn’t bother to look up hermitage in the dictionary. The point is, it is still quite convenient to be able to get up that far and walk the last kilometer/ascend the last 100m if one is pressed for time. Moreover, I’m sure if one’s in the loop with one of the monks, you could probably get past the barriers and even closer.
Seeing the sign extolling the dangers of lightning (first time I’ve seen one of them around here) reminded me of our return to the warmer months, bringing with it mosquitos, spiderwebs and thunder bolts to chase you off of summits and foil activation plans…
Around 6:30 I arrive [very comfortably] at the summit, Mangdae, with a nice stone tower built to hold signal fires. Fun, as I was there to do some myself. Even though the weather wasn’t as clear as it was yesterday, I could see quite well down to Sangju, as well as to HL/GN-274 만운산 where yesterday’s activation was (view above).
I figured that since it was so early, VHF wouldn’t be my best bet to get contacts, so proceeded to set up the buddistick for 40m. Ironically enough, all of my QSOs, HF or otherwise, were domestic, starting off with DS1SED/4, we went through some tests going up to 100W and down to 5W where he could still copy me quite well though might night get many takers as I called CQ. I made one closer contact to Daegu at a full 100W as he had trouble copying me, then the rest of those I talked with at farther distances I had the luxury of going at only 20W with good reports all around.
Once eight o’clock rolled around and the summit activated on 7 MHz I decided to turn to VHF for the last portion of the activation before heading out, as the people were increasing in number and just maybe a smaller antenna would be less weird (who am I kidding, right?). I started calling CQ and had a steady stream of takers near and far (even YOP on one of his routes!) at varying power levels including DS4GQZ on the rooftop of his office with his HT in Suncheon and over to Busan, also.
During the course of the VHF portion of the activation I met one inactive ham on the summit, though hopefully he won’t be inactive for long! After packing up, I took a detour to check out the hermitage, then continue on my way out. The ride down was uneventful (brakes still good, low gear descent charged my SLAB 😉 but the traffic was already backed up at the ticket booth a good half mile.
Back at the Big Pine Motel I had my second cold shower of the stay (I had already mentioned this to the owner last night, it still wasn’t fixed/turned on/joke finished/whatever this morning but I stink/stank/stunk). Afterwards it wasn’t the first time I looked up the hill asking myself why we didn’t try overnighting at the 찜질방 in Sangju. Evidently we weren’t the only ones to be disappointed with Sangju’s Silver Beach. At least we saw goats, though! Also had an assemblage of sashimi for lunch up the road!
The stars aligned on Saturday, or, well, at least the Yagi elements did! There were three SOTA activations going on right around noon time today in HL land–6K5ZLH Wan-seok on HL/GB-001 가야산, HL4GKR Gi-bong on HL/JB-139 오봉산 and I on HL/JB-017 운장산.
Initially, ZLH’s activation was to be solo, and I was organizing our ascent to the summit to coincide with his to get some S2S action (Ji-hun came to tag-along today). Then his schedule moved later, then even later yet when his hiking partner decided to join him. In the end, we were shooting to be on top between 1 & 2 in the afternoon. This worked out nicely, with great weather the whole duration of the hike–sunshine, out of the fog, very light breeze…I only needed a sweater on the summit, and I got my first sunburn of the year. Bravo.
As mentioned before, we were out of the fog, which had been pretty thick both Friday and today in the morning. However, as soon as we reached the top of Pi-am Pass (where the parking lot & trail head are) we were out of the clouds and into the sunshine.
Above we have a view to the westerly mountains poking up and below the view to the north, both panoramas taken on the way up at approximately 800 m asl.
Alas, GKR reached his summit about ten minutes before we did and we had a short chat, then first thing upon reaching the summit I called over to him (he was only 35 km away with an HT) to have my first official QSO of the day. Afterwards, some burritos I brought up were warmed with a leftover MRE warm-up kit, and the yagi set up in the meantime.
With the exception of YOP on his bus running mobile who I have a tendency to lose going through tunnels, all QSOs were at five watts. Signal reports were pretty good as well as the distances, however a nice S2S to HL/GW-001 Seoraksan took the cake for the day with a distance of 260 km, and both of us at 5W! All in all, a much more pleasant activation than the last one in July, in the middle of a cold, windy cloud getting soaked!
6K5ZLH activated his summit and left rather quickly as it was chilly where he was, plus the ascent was four hours and much the same again for the descent. HL4GKR unfortunately didn’t activate, having only the single QSO with me logged, I guess he didn’t get any answers to his CQing on HT–better luck next time…
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).
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.
The rest is downhill as they say, or is that “downhump?” Going out for this early, cloudless, blue-skyed, morning activation, has put me at the 58% percentile in terms of activator scores (Weolseongbong adding 4 points to my previous 37, giving 41 points). I haven’t calculated it that much, since this has only started a few months ago. My aim is 100 points before Christmas, which should be perfectly doable, and looking at such a time frame, it actually ensures that all the summits contributing to it will be unique (except, of course, for those which I activate without making the requisite 4 QSOs subsequently adding ZERO points to my roster–and that depends on whether or not I go back at a later date to collect…)
Morning view of Mireuksan, from 바량산.
My only real grudge with this particular expedition was the timing: there happen to be many ameliorations in progress on this mountain, including signage upgrades.
Along 90% of the routes, there are these beautiful, shiny, new aluminum sign posts installed at all the intersections, with no signs on them! Only one on top, and one at the bottom. All of the older signs (except at the summit itself) have already been uprooted, so at a few points it really was an empty slate, and took a few wrong turns on the way up (longer trail than planned, but less of a steep incline).
Things were pretty quiet, and I saw only three other women, hiking together, this morning. More or less I had the place (with its _huge_mama_ helipad) to myself, and took advantage of this to piddle around, changing antennas and whatnot. I tried 20m & 40m to no avail, there weren’t many signals, and on 20 some guy ate up half the band with some kind of broadband data signal–and it was an extremely strong signal (S9+). So, the activation was acheived by 100% 2m QSOs, though on the fourth or fifth contact my SWR, all of a sudden, shot through the roof. With DS4OVT on the line, I had to switch mid-QSO over to HT, and made a few more contacts on that (even to Buan! with just the duckie antenna!).
By noon, I was all packed up, and started down. I took the trail that I wanted to take up down, ending up at 법계사. It was much steeper and rockier, but got me down fast (with the exception of finding the car, once again, at the bottom).