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!
June 16, 2011. Just your average Thursday morning, to go out to your average neighborhood one-pointer that you’ve activated already, like, twenty times this year. In this case, it’s our local “patron mountain,” HL/JB-168 Mireuksan.
So you wake up around 4 AM or so which is normal because your average cat wants to be fed at that time. Or any other time that it wants, for that matter.
The objective, however, on this particular morning is not to feed the cats, but to witness the rising of an almost fully eclipsed moon and observe as it exits the eclipse during the following hours.
As Murphy dictates, it is cloudy outside. Oh, well, maybe it’ll clear up later.
Hop in the car while it’s still dark, hop out of the car while it’s still dark, same-same, teacher.
You don’t hear owls in town. In fact, I didn’t know there were any owls in the neighborhood here–the only other time I’ve heard them is around HL/JB-104 고덕산 just to the south of 전주. Heard them as well as some other hooting beast–though it’s too early for the quail to be out, just yet.
About twenty/thirty minutes into the hike there were other hikers on the trail, not many yet at that hour. It’s early enough that I might go for some HF, even though band conditions haven’t been the best lately.
Get some good European contacts on 20m & 17m, good signals coming out of England, Germany, Portugal and Italy, but the German station couldn’t hear me (above the megawatt Japan stations he was busy working).
It’s not even seven o’clock yet and Jerry sees me as he’s coming up the summit on one of his thrice-weekly fitness outings to Mireuksan. What a pleasant surprise!
Though, he’s off as quickly as he came, he does have to go to work, after all. I, too. Just a wee bit later. The kicker is that he’s in my first class of the day!
Alas, after working the locals and non alike, one last bit of HF and I also, am off. The clouds didn’t clear in time, and by now the eclipse is officially over. At the very least, I got some good radio play and DX in a no-stress fashion. On a work day, at that!
A Wednesday morning. No class. First day of June. Sounds like an opportune situation to get a head start on some good figures in the stats!
Technically, this should’ve been a double activation, first a quickie at HL/JB-199 계화산 then a quick scuttle over to HL/JB-196 석불산 not more than 4km away and just as short. However, the more that I try to operate in Buan or Gunsan, the more I’m starting to believe the Saemangeum might have an effect similar to the Bermuda Triangle…you’d think being way out in the open and away from everything there’d be nothing between me and those QSOs!
Well, I must’ve spent the first three hours of the activation draining my battery calling CQ on 20m, likewise on 40, a little bit on 17, and also on 2m. No love. The wind took down the buddistick twice, maybe, and keeping the big collinear up, well, let’s just say I was kept on my feet. Also, the tuning was knocked out as my phasing spacers were tugged this way and that.
Of course, when I was packing up the antennas and ready to bag the whole activation all together (not a single QSO!) I hear someone calling on the highway from across the summit where I was…quick-like get over there to answer!
There was then the rush of a half dozen contacts, running continuously (everybody on lunch break?), everybody asking if I had had lunch yet (nope, but was meaning to ASAP). In the end, the activation was saved, but I had nowhere near enough time to even consider heading over to Seokbulsan! It’ll be next time, then perhaps I can hit the filming studio they’ve got over there, too.
Today we had some business to take care of in Jeonju, me picking up a book, my XYL learning some hanji techniques. What a perfect opportunity to tackle a nice short summit nearby…I can be in and out in just the afternoon. HL/JB-155, a no-namer with no precise altitude known was a prime candidate, to find out some answers.
Mistake number one: just because it’s a lowly no-name one pointer doesn’t mean it’s going to be a nice, quick outing! Getting out there was easy enough, it’s not even a five minute drive from the Hanok Village in Jeonju, where turning off the 17 before it meets the 21 to go up a small valley I stopped to ask some locals that were hanging out just what is that there hill called? Ggitdaebong was the answer. Big help that is, as it’s one of the generic hill names that one can often encounter in Korea. Whatever, I’ll find out better, perhaps, if there’s a marker on the summit or something. (none of this info is on any maps I could find, and the summit height isn’t marked, but some other arbitrary summit height is marked, etc)
I continued up the road past the smallish reservoir as far as I could go, ending up at one of a few grave sites. Normally there are trails in these areas, and there in fact were. I took one that led to one of the other sites, trying to go up as quickly as possible and avoiding detours, as I had gotten pretty close (~700m lateral distance) to where the summit was. (Mistake #2, the closest start point isn’t necessarily the easiest or quickest).
Heading upwards on the trail which was, in fact, going in the complete opposite direction of my goal, I turned off onto another track leading directly up. Just barely a track. Luckily the undergrowth hadn’t started in quite yet, but the ground wasn’t terribly firm. After some ways, I did hit what looked to be a main trail, especially since it ran along the ridge line. This kind of trail would’ve been more convenient to have found at the bottom (wherever that may be, still being unknown at this present time).
Progress now was much more quickly paced, until I got within 50m altitude of the AZ and a junction, the choice to go towards the highest summit (and descend to get there) or up to this particular summit. I chose the former, though now I wonder if the trail would’ve been better if I had gone by way of the latter….the trail itself wasn’t an incline rather ran along a steep incline so it was a foot track barely one body wide, easily eroded, and not very clear. To make a long story short, at some point I had to scramble up to the ridge to get back on top of things, displacing more topsoil than I really felt was appropriate.
Afterwards, I was back on the fast track, walking along something definitely more worn, even passing a junction that I believe goes down to the temple on the north side of the hill. Then I found the summit, even going to the next mini-bong to make sure that it was the real summit. Surprise, surprise, the actual height of the summit is higher than our original estimate that went into the database, clocking in at around 502-504m ASL. Following that nasty-ish hike up, it was a rather pleasing discovery as I feel if someone were to make all that effort to get to the top and only claim one point it would be wrong. So, when the next ARM update comes out, the scoring, name, as well as lat & long for HL/JB-155 will be adjusted accordingly.
Seeing as one of the goals of this particular trip was also to test out my newly built 5 segment collinear antenna (5단GP) for 2m designed by M0GIA (ex. M3FVB). His design was originally for a 4 segment antenna, but figuring I had a ten-meter pole with which to raise it I could lengthen it by one segment, also as I wanted to construct it from one single wire and the length I could get my hands on was 10m long, it was just long enough for five radiating elements and four phasing segments.
As the wire wasn’t very stiff, I formed the phasing elements with plastic from some cat litter containers (the green portions in the photo above of the antenna). The matching section is made of two segments of threaded stainless stock to allow for easily fixing the contacts after tuning. The wire itself is .75mm2 stranded copper (~20 gauge?).
I set up the 5 segment antenna alongside the 2 segment Diamond NL22 (8dB gain, no ground plane mobile whip), for comparison (additionally I had an extra HT for reference.) Like I said, I was expecting an easy hike and for the testing wanted to put forth all possible conditions, otherwise I wouldn’t have brought three rigs! ㅋㅋㅋ
At first CQ I started swapping things around while talking with DS4OVT in Gimje, though honestly he wasn’t paying too much attention to my outgoing signal and was more distracted by the differences in how the different rigs’ mics sounded (once again, the VX-170 gets dissed 😦 though that was in comparison to the FT-857’s stock mic (just wait until I set up the base station with an SM57!) however in some of the operating conditions it sees I’m not going to mod that mic and decrease its water-proofed-ness). I’ll have to have somebody on the receiving end record throughout testing next time to see with my own eyes what’s going on.
Post Script Edit:
The following Monday (May 16) I took the 5단 GP to HL/JB-168 for a spin, with only 5W DS3OMA was receiving me 52 (and I he 55 with his 10W) in Daejeon, 45km away. However, just the other week, June 15, using the Diamond 2 segment mobile whip, I was receiving him 51 (no changes in his system), and he I at 52, yes, still the same report for my signal but I was putting 50W into that antenna! In the first case, I did stretch my legs in testing with him up to 50W which he says did peak at 59, so that must indicate something done correctly with that antenna!
Anyways, between making some more QSOs on 2m, and then some on 20m (with a 100-anny Taiwan station, not my first, not my last!) and back on 2m again, I made a contact to remember with DS4GOD on HL/GJ-001 무등산. The kicker is this: normally the top 200m or so is closed off, being a military installation and all, so unless you’ve got connections, activating is out of the question. Well, today, for the first time in 46 years, during a six-hour window, the general public was allowed to reach the summit and it was at this time that I had a contact with DS4GOD as he was on top of this mountain. I’m so jealous–had I known ahead of time, I would’ve gone down there myself to activate! Either way, I caught some “SOTA DX” thanks to him!
I packed everything up while waiting for DS1SED/p4 to reach the summit of HL/JB-017 운장산 (I had already heard from him on his way up) to make a S2S before heading down on my own. We had our final contact, agreeing to meet later on in the evening as he’d scooter on back to Jeonju quickly enough after he activated (a last minute affair, on his part).
Playing it safe, I decided to take the beaten path down (knowing there are cliffs if I were to attempt a “direct descent” bee-lining to the car. Heading east, around the rim, it wasn’t too bad, nor was I worried with the adequate lighting I had on hand. It was more a matter of not taking too much time to be back in town to, like, eat, and stuff. Well, after making my way down, going under the newly constructed 27 expressway (Wanju-Suncheon) I arrived at the village just to the south of where I originally drove through to get to the trail head. As chance would have it, there was an old guy walking out of his house, heading right on over to that next village to have dinner at his son’s house. Well, ahem, he just couldn’t keep his hands to himself–groping towards my privvy-parts and asking me if all “Americans” were this “well endowed.” I dealt with this for about the five minutes it took to get back up to the other road with which I was familiar, discreetly fanning him away, listening to him explain how his son studied abroad, how he’s the same age as me (not the old guy!), etc. I did make it back to the car, and headed back into Jeonju to a schnitzel joint to dine with my XYL and some Parisians she met at the hanji shop.
2차 was meeting DS1SED to hang in a 휴게실 out in 효자동 for some beers and squid (outside of which was that tree converted lamp post you see up and to the left). It had been a while since last meeting, so was enjoyable. Going back home we took the 나티 대리운전 service which was more comfortable than the normal joe’s you call to grind your gears and get speeding tickets for you.
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…
This morning, however, I went out before six am, with the aim to get some DX. Though band conditions seemed to be good, at least on the receiving end, transmitting didn’t work out so well, and I didn’t have many (any) answers to my CQing. I was monitoring VHF, and had made some contacts there, so at least when I walked away and went to class, it wasn’t a total failure.
Though, a little geocache was placed for those whose presence will next grace this summit…
This was a primarily VHF expedition to Mandeoksan, though I had the intention to go to JB-081 to do some HF, time didn’t allow given the distance to get to that summit (although it was relatively close by).
It was a nice clear (still cloudy, but with high visibility) day, so I managed to get some good panorama shots:
View to the north:
View to the east:
View to the west:
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.
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).
It’s HF testing season! I finally tuned my Buddistick this week, and decided to try it out in the wild, on Cheonhosan.
While conditions were noisy, and I could hear some strong stations, nobody could hear me. So, I retuned and switched to 20m and almost immediately made a contact in China.
I didn’t quite like the high SWR readout on 20m with my quick tuning, so moved to 2m and got four local contacts (just using a vertical, today).
The mountain was interesting, with the remnants of a stone fortress up top. Cozy trails, and didn’t see a single person. Though, could hear the continuous fire of machine guns from the training facility in Nonsan (when you’re high up, you hear everything).
This last week has been nuts as far as the weather, thunderstorms almost twice daily…thunderstorms are a rarity in ROK and now this year we have them in spades! Yesterday’s activation was started late, as well as today’s (from being cancelled on CB-014, moved to Byeonsanbando National Park‘s Oknyeobong JB-166, then delayed). Once I was fully operational on the summit with only two QSOs logged through the big rig and antenna, the thunder came back…well, sitting cross legged next to a metal tower on top of a mountain in an electrical storm isn’t my idea of a calm Sunday, so, I broke down the setup and switched back to the HT to get a few more QSOs to save the activation… I got off the summit in time for…nothing. Whatever it was, it had blown past, but it was already 5:30 or so, so I headed back home.
This summit choice was brought about by a QSO w/DS4PXG yesterday on JB-204, inviting me out to JB-166. The Buan KARL Branch has a U/V repeater on a fire camera tower on that summit, and since the camera only has power during fire season (spring/fall) other sources are needed throughout the year. There was already a 50W solar panel and 100W mini-wind turbine, and today they were carrying up and installing a 100W solar panel to add to the charging array. So I got to climb the tower and make my first QSO of the day from up there via HT down to Gwangju (55km south). After the install was finished, everybody headed back home and I stayed on the summit to install my setup and make some more QSOs…but that didn’t turn out so favorably, as you know.
Images and video forthcoming…
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!
It’s official! After months of work, HL SOTA is finally online! To celebrate the fact, I went out first thing Thursday morning, July 1, to conduct an official, first activation. Fate would have it that 0000 UTC is 0900 KST, so activators getting in line for the “first activation” really had no trouble being up for the occasion to make it truly the first.
I decided to go out to Weolyeongsan on the Saemangeum, but as I didn’t know the area very well, had gone out for reconnaissance the day before to look for the trail. Here are some stills: (got no stills for the actual activation, only a movie which will soon be out).
After having a QSO with DS1SED/p4, he managed to convince me to go for lunch (I was planning on two other activations in the area, but things weren’t biting and my main battery was dead, so that was abandoned).
We met up in Iksan, grabbed some extra supplies and headed towards Mireuksan. We took the KT access road up to the antenna site, then walked the rest of the way to the summit. I cooked up some ramyeon while he set up his yagi. We quickly ate then proceded to make three (only!) contacts. Needless to say, the summit wasn’t activated, but chasers still get points.
Since I had to be at work (it was a Thursday, after all!) we had to quickly break down and leave. We’ll be back again, that’s for sure….