This date was exclusively reserved to do an activation on HL/SL-001 Dobongsan with the 청룡 Scout group 6K0FA. They had been introduced to SOTA the week before after the hamfest at Yonsei University and were intending on doing a hands-on activation immediately the week after (today). Unfortunately there was a curtain of rain everywhere north of Chungnam with a full day of sunshine Pyeongtaek and southwards. That resulted in scratching that little activity off the calendar.
Doesn’t mean I can’t still go out!
It’s about time I’ve returned to this summit, especially now that I have a better clue about how to go about it than last time! Also, it was actually possible to do this one up and down only in the morning, as both Ji-hun and I had to be back in town for lunchtime.
So, on this 17 of July, we made sure to be there not too much after sunrise, park in an actual parking lot that the village has (completely missed that last time), monumented. Since we parked down there, we had a chance to walk through the village to get up to the main trail head, passing by many of the scenes you see below.
It appears that the village has either a bustling artist community, got some money, or was the subject of some art college’s experimentation. Anyway that you might look at it, it certainly makes for an interesting stroll and is quite well done, in a multitude of media.
Whilst the signage throughout the village clearly indicates how to get up to Barangsan (non-SOTA, but on the way to HL/CN-012 월성봉), once you get on the actual trail the situation is severely lacking. Now, when I visited this very place last year, it was in the exact same condition. Naively I must’ve thought it to be a work in progress, evidently it’s still in progress? Still got those nice extruded aluminum sign posts inserted into ground but no actual signs affixed to them to indicate which way to go about ascending on the less than clear trails.
Hmpf. Not impressed. Especially given the proximity to Daedunsan Provincial Park, to which the trails going over Weolseongbong actually serve as one of the many options to get up to Daedunsan. It isn’t like you’ll get lost, but it certainly isn’t convenient to have to try multiple trails when you don’t know…
Like last time, I did a pseudo-loop, ascending via the same route but intending to descend via the pass but turning off earlier when we saw a suitable trail with others coming up from our destination (where upon arrival we saw a bus!).
We didn’t see any human life on the way up the hill, but plenty of arachnids as well as a couple of deer. There was also a patch of mosquitoes that we had to make our way through (when we were not on the ridge, thus no fresh breeze to keep them away).
For the short time available to activate I made a pretty good number of QRP contacts, not only in the 3 call area around Daejeon but also as far south as Gwangju and to the Buan club out activating Wido Island (I should’ve been there before they rescheduled)…
Equipment for the activation was the FT-857, 5단GP, and LiPO battery (wasn’t planning on being up there for that long, anyways). Next time I’d like to make a point to hit HL/CN-002 대둔산 마천대 from that angle, would be nice to take a new path, and maybe see those mountain goats again.
We love it when plant managers and presidents come to visit–that means no class! Taking advantage of the situation, I headed out to where the border of Wanju-gun and Imsil-gun lies atop HL/JB-087 Gyeonggaksan. I literally followed the border up the hill, as the highest trail head (310m) is located at 불재 (Fire(?) Pass) (35.72117°N & 127.14650°E). (There is a charcoal factory located there…)
Going up this trail is actually quite pleasant, no scrambling involved, not even really steep. You can reach the top in under an hour, dilly-dally time included. At the top, somebody dropped a big metal box with a camera sticking out of it (fire watch) adorned with oodles of ribbons.
I chose to activate in the old little watchtower, to catch a view as well as stay out of the breeze. (653m ASL, 35.72555°N & 127.16272°E) Actually, this stilted hut is quite a nice perk on this peak for winter activations.
Trying to travel light, yet nail this one, I took the FT-857 and the mobile whip…if the whip would be lacking, I could always crank up this rig to resolve any issues 😉
In total, I made five contacts, some closer, some farther (up to Boryeong, down to Jangseong), some being hard to come by, taking an hour before deciding to pack up after seeing one lone wanderer (the only one of the day).
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…
Time for a Sunday walk–went up to 미륵산 with the new Yagi antenna from DS1DFK. I wanted to take advantage of the more leisurely situation and try making some SSB contacts. I tried calling CQ a couple of different times on different frequencies but to no avail. I then whipped out a bungee to change the polarization of the antenna, called CQ then got a steady stream of takers for the next few hours.
For the whole operation I was running 10 watts to extend battery life, and acheived some moderate distances, in addition to some QSOs around town, despite the antenna pointing away (even at 90 degrees off). The site for the morning was just a bit down from the main summit, on a mini-summit which had an alternate path around it, greatly reducing the traffic around me (but that didn’t stop some from letting a ya-ho loose from where I was…).