As the title implies, this April seventeenth was spent engaged in a double activation, with the planned return to two summits I checked out at the end of last year: HL/JB-080 서래봉 and HL/JB-103 종남산.
These two peaks oppose each other over a dead end valley Alles in allem kein totes Tal. There is a church about halfway up (with a trail head going up to Jongnamsan), the O’s Gallery & café, as well as 송광사 Temple at the opening of the valley.
Taking the geography of the neighborhood into account I’ve been wanting to do a ridge walk in the area and hit a couple of these local peaks for the last few months in this fashion. Ji-hun said she was up to the challenge, so we met up on Sunday morning to enjoy the warm and sunny spring weather. I originally planned on starting at 위봉재 Wibong Pass (between JB-115 귀뚤봉 and non-SOTA 되실봉) where a mountain fortress is located. Problem is, if we were to do our circle course, we’d have to walk back up to the pass along the road with the traffic later on that day, at the end of the walk and judging by the weather and the cherries in full bloom alongside the creek flowing down to Songgwangsa Temple, there would be traffic. So, we rolled back down the road and to the trail head between 되실봉 and 서래봉.
During the ascent we saw a very large quantity of azaleas in bloom, especially in the more shaded (pine) areas of the forest. The bracken was also starting to sprout up and I got a lecture on how they’re prepared for use in Korean cuisine (bibimbap, etc).
Additionally, at one point I saw a glimmer of light from far off up the trail, and was paying attention to it as we approached. What’s this? A walking stick, hmmm, a broken one. That can be fixed though, after all, parts is parts. Worst case scenario, it gets sold to scrap (Alain P. would be proud!). Now, if only I had the missing piece…Ji-hun: is it that up there? 딩동댕! It is! Pack that up and move along, could always be useful to have a spare at home (it would be spare as I just received one for my b-day last weekend–thanks Murphy!). Anyway, people shouldn’t be a-litterin’ around here.
DS1SED had texted me right as I was approaching the trail head around 9am inquiring as to what the reference number for Moaksan (HL/JB-048) was–what a coincidence! Well, less than two minutes to reach the top for us at about 10:30 I heard him call out his first CQ–though he must not’ve heard my response immediately as I was still in HT mode without the Yagi set up yet…
So, I get up to the top, try calling him, and who’s this I hear? A certain DS4OVB calling from 건지산, a low lying summit within Jeonju city limits. It was our first QSO, but interesting none the less to have a chat while out and about.
SED must have been listening as shortly after my contact with OVB was finished he came on frequency. This was fun as I believe it was Francisco’s first SOTA outing this year, and last time I knew he was out on Moaksan same day as me he didn’t have a radio on him and we didn’t cross paths. We had a short QSO and he moved onwards.
Ahem, back to antenna setup for “the real activation.” Or not so quickly, as this time DS4QBE/m was loud and clear in my ear. Today our roles were reversed “back to normal,” after his excursion yesterday out to Bonghwasan with me chasing him from a more picnic-y position down below next to the Geum River. Unfortunately he had to leave his op position early with XYL & QRPers in two egging him to move on. This time he was calling from the industrial complex #1 in Iksan (there are two or three, at least).
In the meantime, refreshment came in the form of Makeolli that a group coming up behind us had brought up and poured around.
So, what was I saying? Oh, yes, antenna setup. Well, finally got that done, and had the customary exchange with DS4RDY (where an antenna of this magnitude is so, not necessary. On the other hand, where it did become necessary was with the next contact to 6K5ZIC/m on top of HL/GB-081, 학가산. He was taking a lunch break eating some 김밥 while out with his co-workers. Evidently there’s a road to the peak, and he was operating mobile, so no chaser points for me nor activator points for him. Next time he may be operating in a more SOTA-friendly way, who knows?
I tried calling CQ for a while more with no more responses, and being lunch time we decided to pack up and move on. There was also increased traffic on the summit, much more than I’ve ever seen there. So we pack up, start heading down but, oops, I forgot a summit shot. Quick whip out the camera while Ji-hun starts out ahead–찍어찍어…done! OK, start heading towards the next bong (there are three separate peaks that fall within the AZ for this mountain) and she’s standing there with this look on her face. What’s up? Eh? My stick (the wooden antenna mast one, with the plastic broom handle Yagi-holder on top) threw itself down the hill. Really, the wooden part slipped out of the plastic and it’s somewhere down there…I don’t know if she was inspired by my tale of snowballing batteries from my last visit to this summit and thought this activation was so far uneventful and needed some excitement… Long story short: I go down to find it and come back up, just in time for the group that was on the peak to see the foreigner scrambling up the slope tearing through the leaves and mulch.
Move along–nothing to see here…we continued along the loop towards Odo Pass, not without first passing through the two other Activation Zones of HL/JB-080, admittedly both more picturesque than the highest peak.
Arriving at 오도재 Odo Pass and the trail intersection there is an information station with two sides of map, one where you face north, one south. Ignore the south one, someone thought they were being clever by flipping the image horizontally to match your view down the valley…well they forgot one more flip vertically for the illusion to actually work. Either way, on the front side (you facing north) it’s OK, but I noticed that, gee, Seobangsan is 612m and Jongnamsan is only 544m. Jongnamsan is our JB-103 in question, not 서방산. The pass is the lowest point around, at 393m, so that’d mean that the computer picked out 종남산 which would have a prominence of only 151m from SRTM data which has a resolution of 20m but miss 서방산?
I called my XYL to sort this out, we couldn’t find any real explanation other than that info station must be wrong, 종남산 must be higher than that. Well, after verifying photos from the last activation there, the map is wrong! Go figure. I’ll go check in person to verify, just the same. It is on the way.
Moving upwards again we had a short ramen stop then arrived at Seobangsan in good time, a nice flat helipad crowned summit of 611.7m, making that, in fact, the principal summit of HL/JB-103. I’ve already activated on Jongnamsan before so thought why not set up and take care of business here, today? First thing I heard DS3JPG calling from Nonsan and had a quick chat with him before setting up the antenna. Following much calling I scraped up a few QSOs, a couple in Jeonju and one to Cheongju.
While making the rounds of the helipad’s perimeter, I found (yet another) walking pole, this one not even broken (though missing its strap). Jamais deux sans trois! Then I get a phone call, it’s Ji-hun, “when are you leaving Seobangsan? I’m almost at Jongnamsan now.” Huh? I thought she was just hanging out off-summit in the shade. She got bored and wanted to start the last leg slowly and less stressfully…OK, I’m heading out. Not without one last contact with SED for the day–he gave me the wrap up on his activation that morning, then I was off.
I made good time to Jongnamsan, 2.65km in under an hour, along the ridge line. We then started down a path less travelled, advertising the quick route to the sauna below (where I had parked the car). About halfway down, the sun had set and the moon had risen, and actually until the last 200m or so we didn’t need auxiliary lighting to stick to the path. Arrival at the car was at about 20:30, and then we were on our way back to Iksan.
In conclusion, the double activation was just barely successful, and after having chatted with HL3EPH who informed me that HF band conditions were “excellent” today I regretted not having brought the buddistick to augment the contact totals…I should know better for next time! However, I did walk away with an extra pair of walking sticks…. 😉
In trying to still catch the edge of sunrise with minimal effort (before those 4am sunrises become popular, once again) I drove out to JB-204 Manghaesan. Drove makes it seem exciting–I ended up going at quite the snail’s pace going through thick fog with about 20m of visibility, and relying on the GPS as much as my own eyes! However, within 500m of the hill’s base I escaped from the fog bank out back into the open! On the way up the hill I did see a deer.
Arriving at the secondary summit with the gazebo I took the photo above…nothing doctored, nada.
I was hoping for a roaring time on 20m but it just wasn’t to be. Of course downhill in Seosu I texted QBE to spot me (I don’t think I woke him) and he subsequently called me up and we had a short QSO. After much tuning around, calling CQ, etc I finally had a short but difficult chat to Capri, IC8TEM claiming there was lots of QSB (though I received him quite well). The highlight of the morning was a contact on 17m to K8NY in West Virginia, in fact my first QSO to CONUS from Korea. Later on while I was still tuning around I heard DS3JPG calling CQ from Ganggyeong and ended up having a conversation with him while he was relaying the info over to DS3MRA who couldn’t hear my signal farther away in Gyeryong (though I heard him quite well at my QTH).
I should mention that in the course of all of this, some guy comes on up with a cordless drill/screwdriver and starts working on the gazebo. I just kept doing my thing, until down comes the railing that was circling the floor of the structure. Then he goes away. He mumbled something about it “being in the way.” Of what, I’m not sure, but without that, what’ll keep y’all from rollin’ down the hill after too much 막걸리?
After seeing the band conditions deteriorate even further (and not having a properly insulated antenna mast mount, probably not helping my situation) I decided to head on out for a walk. Firstly, I had a short chat with two of the forest fire watch guys in their little hut on top, got some local history (there was a forest fire on that mountain a few years back, which explains the current state of affairs and all of the new growth). They also said they knew “the Derailer” and that everything was kosher with that.
After dropping off the gear in the car, I moseyed along to investigate the possible third summit within the Activation Zone as well as checking out the mountain’s trails off the logging tracks. Along the way I saw some of the new blossoms out (though the cherries aren’t out just quite yet…). In the end, that third summit is in the AZ after having bugged out the fire watch guy and his dog up there (don’t think he expected me, he radioed his friends on the other summit asking about the American wandering around the hills ;). Anyways, the GPS said it was OK.
At this point I decided to turn back and on the way to the car saw a red ferret crossing the road–though he didn’t stick around long enough to get a picture of him. Maybe next time…
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…
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…
DS4QBE (pictured above) invited me for a New Year’s Activation on Mireuksan JB-168 with his son, DS4PQV, DS4GDZ and XYL, and I dragged along Gi-seung to boot. Despite the fact that we were very not alone in witnessing the first sunrise of the year (below) from Iksan’s patron mountain, amongst the four of us we (I) managed only one QSO while in the Activation Zone.
To make it in time we started on the trail at 6:30, which is good because we didn’t have to freeze off our posteriors for more than ten minutes on the summit as we waited for the sun to rise. NB it was -14° C when we started and -5° C when we finished. During the ascent, you could see a line of lights bobbing up to the summit–just to illustrate the quantity of people who were out. Since it was “standing room only” I had decided on a VHF-only activation, using QBE’s 2-segment 6dB gain mobile whip–manpack style with the FT-857.
DS4RDY was the lucky QSO of the day, at 8:18 AM (23:18 20101231 UTC). Other than that, no one must’ve had their rigs on. Stupid me didn’t even think of sending out an SMS spot once while on the summit… ;( After 떡, cookies, hot cocoa and hot coffee, we decided to pack up and head off before 10, going for some 순두부찌개 down the hill. With the crampons the descent was actually quite pleasant, with QBE engaged in a few QSOs along the way. Lunch was enjoyed after placing a microcache down below, then everyone headed off home. All in all, a good start to the year–except for the activation part! (Well, technically, that is last year, still!) 73~!
There are many two- and four-pointers encircling the plains here that I’ve been overlooking so far when choosing destinations–actually, it’s probably like I’ve been looking over them when on previous activations. So, I have a nice bank of unactivated summits close by that aren’t high nor low, which is handy when the roads aren’t favorable, such as days like today. We did end up having a white Christmas here in Iksan, albeit last minute and after a leisurely afternoon cruise out in the countryside.
We got a bit of a late start getting out, meeting at the eastern 검문소 checkpoint of the city at noon (!) leaving a car (the one without snow chains in the trunk) there. Finding the trailhead was no problem and there were already four or five cars parked there. Now, the trail head /is/ clearly marked, make no mistake, yet there is another signage system also in place which sort of distracted us to the point where we ended up walking to the temple and taking a more roundabout route. That other thingy looked like some kind of more “local” (read: on site) trail system for which purpose (or product) I didn’t take note.
So, we walked up the road towards the temple (봉서사) while passing army training “play grounds.” The kids weren’t out today ;( but it was interesting, none-the-less to see what they get put through: climbing up the undersides (!) of giant ladders, not to mention the classics like wall climbing, the ropes and other imaginable tasks.
Additionally along the way was a 가든 restaurant with an area set up for water play, still in winter, no one playing [obviously] but in stead a large ice stalagmite partially in the trees and freestanding, about 20 to 25 feet high. Our friend (to the right) had also received a partial facial…
Upwards and onwards, just as you arrive at the temple the particular trail head we took is on the left, not the “logging track” that switches back but the small “goat trail” marked only by a few dusty ribbons. At the next small junction, we continued to the left (as opposed to the right which simply heads eastwards at the same elevation encircling the temple to the other side of the valley). Progressing this way, we reached the ridge (at roughly 500m) in quick time, meeting a more travelled trail giving the choice between 서방산 or 종남산, us taking the latter.
It was a speedy 2km run along the ridge to get to Jongnamsan’s summit at 608m passing two junctions (another trail leading back down to the Bong Seo temple and the other, our intended trail, from the location where the car was parked), and upon arrival searching for the best place to set up the kitchen and likewise the antenna. The wind had picked up and so Ji-hun was set to ramen-duty on the north side, and as the summit was forested by shorter, younger trees I was a bit limited in where I could freely swing the big yagi.
While setting up, I heard somebody calling for SED, though originally due to the similarity in voice to SED I thought it was SED. Turns out it was a friend of his in town at the train station not 10km away–so we had a short QSO then I got back to antenna business.
Well, it was good I had brought that as almost immediately after calling CQ I had a strong reply from Anyang more than 150km away, with 20 watts on my side. After having a nice contact the rest of my QSOs were local, though I didn’t go through the effort of lowering power in keeping the ease of contact high due to the quick change in weather: it had started to snow, and heavily at that.
After some cups of hot ramen and coffee alternatively, I started breaking down after the fourth contact, not wanting to be hiking back down in the dark. I had switched over to HT and QBE called me while I was packing up the antenna. We exchanged signal reports and weather details then we commenced our descent. Luckily, less than 0.02% of the descent was on our backsides (unlike some other hikers!) due to the freshly falling snow–arrival at the car closely coincided with sunset and auxiliary lighting wasn’t required until afterwards to put the chains on the car.
This evening I saw a Korean snow plow for the first time in my life out in Bongdong on the way back home–Iksan (last I knew) doesn’t even own one. A real first–and worth the money. Now only if we could have one in town… in the end, everyone got home and the mountain got activated. Next time we just won’t putz around until noon before going out! 73~