Two summits north of Lockhart Gap

Saturday 28 December 2019

Another hot day was forecast for Wodonga. I decided to head out to Lockhart Gap to activate some easy summits. Before departing Wodonga, I alerted for VK3/VE-241, a six point summit on McGrath Track, which runs of Eskdale Spur Road. The trip to Lockhart Gap was uneventful.

My plan was upset – I found a Road Closed sign at the start of Eskdale Spur Road. I was aware that there were going bushfires further south, and had noted Road Closures posted in the area of the fires. I was not really surprised at the closure, so I swung north onto Powerline Road and then Lockharts Gap Track for about 4 km to reach the first summit for the day.

VK3/VE-159 (unnamed) 892 m 4 points

At the high point in the track, there is a cleared area adjacent to the track allowing one to park off the track. I quickly set up with a line over a tree branch to haul up the ZS6BKW. I set up the folding camp chair away from the car and simply sat in the chair with the KX2 on my lap. Logging was done with my smart phone and the VK3ZPF Portalog app.

I was on air by 2320 and soon had the summit qualified on 40 m CW, with four contacts in less than 10 minutes. I was soon listening on 20 m voice for a couple of SOTA stations in ZL. I could hear them, but they could not hear me with the 10 W from the KX2. I moved to the car and pulled out the IC-7300. I soon had it unpacked and connected to an 18 Ah LiFePO4 battery. With 50 W, I was able to make contact and soon had Soren ZL1SKL and Sam ZL/VK2GPL on ZL1/WK-158 in the log.

I turned off the IC-7300 and reconnected the KX2 and returned to 40 m CW to work Allen VK3ARH/p on Mount Gisborne VK3/VC-039. I moved up from Allen, posted a Spot and started calling again and soon had Garry VK2GAZ in the log.

I moved up to 20 m CW and worked John ZL1BYZ and was called by Ron VK3AFW shortly before UTC rollover. But we could not complete the contact before UTC midnight, so Ron is in the log at 0000 UTC and missed a chance for a second contact on the new UTC day. Next in the log was Andrei ZL1TM.

I then moved to 40 m SSB, as Ian VK1DI/2 had spotted. I waited for my chance to call and soon had Ian on The Cascades VK2/SM-014 and Kosciusko National Park VKFF-0269 in the log.

I moved down to 40 m CW and worked five stations. Next was 40 m SSB for another four stations, followed by a call on CW on the SSB frequency. I simply picked up the key and worked Steve VK7CW with the rig still set on SSB – a handy feature on the KX2. With no further callers, I shut down and packed up the station and returned to Powerline Road.

The road takes a sweeping turn to the left about 4 km further on –heading back in almost the same direction as it starts to drop down a side spur. This is the spot to park for the walk of about 450 m to the next summit. I parked about 30 m past the bend and loaded up for the approach to the summit.

VK3/VE-242 (unnamed) 842 m 4 points

There are patches of scrub to negotiate or skirt around as you approach the summit, with around 50 m vertical climb.

I set up the station, this time sitting on the ground. I was on air calling a little over an hour after closing on the previous summit. I started on 40 m CW and had six contacts in the log in around 12 minutes. With no further callers, I moved up to 40 m SSB and worked another six stations. I then moved up to 20 m CW and worked John ZL1BYZ and Andrei ZL1TM before closing. I then packed up and retraced my route back to the car and to Lockhart Gap and returned to Wodonga – the day was getting warm!

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