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The smell of fresh salt air and the sounds of gulls in the wind, oops, sorry wrong hike. Grant hill is nothing of the kind, though the air was fresh, it was of evergreen trees, and the wind was caused by passing cyclists racing down the trails and the gulls were replaced by others planning their route. Ralph and I have walked Grant each winter over the past few years as it is a low summit and so free of snow in mid-winter which makes it a good choice for starting off the season of hiking.
This year presented new challenges in that we shouldn’t be driving together in a car, so this time we drove separately and chatted via ham radio as we went. One of the benefits of amateur radio in that it is allowed under the distracting driving rules. Ralph needed gas; I was fully charged so we met at a Starbucks in Langley after he was reloaded with the explosive and expensive liquid. We made quick time to the hill and planned to park just before the gate. Alas so did many others.
The road had cars parked along both sides for a half kilometer from the gate. Fortunately, we found a couple of openings not too distant from the gate. It seems like a lot of people thought it would be a good day to cycle the trails and they likely had to come in separate vehicles as well, so there were many more than in the past. We parked and got on our packs and started up the road past the gate and along the gravel to the summit. I noticed that the road we recently graded and the rough spots ironed out. It was steep but an easy walk to the top group of towers. From there it is a short walk to the summit where we were to set up.
Having arrived, I began to unpack my 2m yagi and radio while Ralph was trying to get is wire antenna into the trees. Soon I was talking with Gabor on a summit on Vancouver Island and then a few more, it was a crowded time on the 2m frequency but I got through and over the next hour I completed 3 summit-to-summit contacts plus many to other chasers. Ralph finished getting his wire in the air and turned on his new KX2 radio. This was his first activation with it and it worked beautifully for him. He made contacts across the continent with the furthest being in Virginia on the east coast. We both quickly passed the minimum needed and could then relax and do more contacts at our leisure.
While we were operating, a number of cyclists stopped by to ask about our activities. They always seem to ask how far I can reach and are quite amazed at my 312km for vhf. Then I mention where Ralph was talking – California, Arizona, New York and that really catches their attention. One cyclist in a group of three shared his call sign much to the surprise of his friend who never knew he was a ham. Perhaps he will get back into it a bit.
Eventually we decided the bands had quieted and we were feeling the cold due to our standing still in the cool air. So, we packed up the gear and set off down the trail and road for the car. There were more gaps now along the road so I guess the most popular time for cycling is before lunch. I did feel good getting out into the trees and playing with my radio. This hike is really quite short and easy but is steep, so does take a bit of effort. The 5 radio towers sharing the summit area do cause some interreference but with my band filter it isn’t a problem for me. For a winter hike for one who isn’t fond of cold and snow, it is a good fit. It is too bad one can only get credit for it once per calendar year. Next hike will likely be McKee Peak which is a bit longer but still not overly hard, another good winter time summit.