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I haven’t had many opportunities to activate summits this year due to truck issues. So, I had to make the most of those I could reach. This little summit is an easy one and fits into a late season setting as it has very short walking requirements which works well in the cooler and wetter portion of the year. Of course, this fall has been the exact opposite of a normal one – extremely dry and very warm. Ralph and I had activated another Chilliwack Mountain a few weeks back so it was time for Chilliwack Mountain.
Ralph arrived my place a bit before 11am and we quickly set out for a coffee and then the Chilliwack Mountain Road which is the main access road to the homes on the top of the hill. This small summit has homes scattered across its wide slope and ridge, larger properties that are generally older and quite settled. It makes for a plesant drive up as there is no construction. At the highest point is a communication tower with the Hillkeep Park nestled in alongside it. The park offers a few longer hiking trails that descend from the summit area but it also offers a lovely viewpoint to the south.
Upon arrival at the end of the road there are 4 parking spots one of which was occupied. I selected another and we left the car for a short breather before donning our packs for the short walk ahead. The trail initially follows the service road to the communications tower but then veers off for the viewpoint. The actual viewing platform is right on the edge of the activation zone so it provides a pleasant place to operate from however, for VHF work, the nub of the upper summit area blocks some access to the Vancouver region. This site is not one that can be done with a simple Handheld and minimal antenna.
Upon arriving at the viewpoint, Ralph made his way to the park bench to set up and I wandered to the edge of the platform to gather a few photos. The smoke was quite intense in the valley below. Mount Cheam on the far side could barely be seen and many of the summits were obscured completely. Fortunately, this spot seemed fresh and the warm breeze blowing up the slope made for a very pleasant visit. Last year when we were here in October it was also a nice day but quite cool, today Ralph was dressed in shorts and actually overly warm.
I set up my yagi by attaching it to the railing, this gave me some extra height and a solid base. I soon was calling but no one was responding. After over 5 minutes of calling I finally had a contact but it took 8 more minutes for a second. I texted my wife to give me a call from home which she did, so I had 3 in the log. I was not so sure I would get enough. I had been bouncing the signal off of Mount Vedder which seemed to be giving some good reports into the lower valley but yet no one was responding. After another 5 minutes of calling, I had my fourth contact. Ken (VVE7HI), our top chaser, was soon in the log followed by a sixth a bit later. I had enough and decided to break for some lunch.
I glanced over at Ralph and noticed that his dipole had fallen off his mast! The one element was hanging in low bushes a foot off the ground but the other was right on the dirt in coils. I went over and pointed out the situation. Ralph broke from his calling to fix it. He had 19 in the log! We both wonder how many were made while the antenna was on the dry ground! He also managed 6 summit-to-summit contacts with his suboptimal antenna! I guess it shows just how dry the ground has become. I tried some more calling and managed to get a seventh station but that seemed to be the end of it. As it was more than enough for SOTA I packed up the gear as did Ralph and we wandered the short walk back to the car.
We were both commenting on how warm it was outside. My car was reading 29C! which seemed quite ridiculous for mid-October. But such it was, the official temp at the Abbotsford airport was 27C. We had an uneventful drive home and felt the day was a good outing and activation. The viewing platform is a nice spot to visit and easy to walk to, I recommend it for those wishing for an easy viewpoint to visit.