I had been planning to activate these two summits together for the past few weeks. But last week I was out of action due to catching a cold. In any case, the weather forecast was not outstanding but promised to be better than the previous weekend.
I checked out the weather radar one last time early on Sunday morning before deciding to go for it prior to rain forecast to arrive later in the afternoon. The previous evenings showers had passed and the morning was warmer than anticipated. Driving to Mt Toorongo Range, I had a chat with Glenn VK3YY and Allen VK3HRA on the VK3REC repeater, all on our way to summits.
Considering the weather of the past week or so, the conditions anticipated at Mt Toorongo Range were not too bad. I was expecting so see some snow and there were only a few small clumps here and there on the walk to the summit. Since leaving home the wind had picked up considerably but fortunately with a relatively mild morning temperature, wind-chill was not a problem.
Road access was not a problem and I followed the access notes posted on Sotawatch. The roads were dry with a few muddy parts and would have been easily passable all the way to the locked gate on Mt Toorongo Road by 2wd. A stroll past the gate took me to the top with a little bush bashing off the road to the left to find a clearing within the activation zone. Once on the top the views were excellent. Because I would have been struggling to get on air before UTC midnight, I took out my binoculars and spent a fair amount of time looking around, particularly towards the Latrobe Valley.
My first contact was shortly after UTC midnight and was a S2S with Glenn VK3YY on Mt Timbertop with another contact a few minutes later with Allen VK3HRA on the same summit. These were my only S2S contacts but I worked a steady stream of chasers, logging a total of 19 contacts in just over 20 minutes on the air.
With this accomplished, I packed up and headed back to the car and headed back towards Noojee to activate Mc Carthy Spur.
The McCarthy Spur Road from Noojee is well maintained gravel road with just a couple of muddy sections. I followed the instructions posted on Sotawatch by Peter VK3PF and on arriving at the last gate I could see the summit and was only a couple of hundred metres away. Bush bashing your way to the summit is the only option from this point. I scouted around for a possible track to the top but found none. Reading the reports from other activators on this peak indicated that most of them had given up trying to get to the top so after confirming that I had battled my way into the activation zone, I found a clearing big enough to set up the doublet in an inverted-V configuration.
This time I had problems with a dodgy PL-259 connector on my antenna lead from the radio to the tuner. Fortunately I was carrying another lead with a BNC on one end and a PL-259 on the other and was able to still use the doublet by switching the radio to operate HF bands via the BNC connector on the front panel of the FT-817.
I logged a total of 16 contacts in 15 minutes including another S2S contact with Allen and Glenn this time on VK3/VE-123. Most of these contacts were made with only 2.5 watts of RF power with the internal battery and most people were still giving me 57 or 58 reports which was surprising.
By the end of this activation the sky was getting grey and reports from other stations of a change of weather on the way kept me from messing around too much.
Heading home in the car the weather from the west looked threatening but did not eventuate until I had arrived home and the first few spots of rain started to fall. Once again I had been fortunate with the weather today and clocked up another 17 activator points