Wednesday 25 November 2020
I was up early. After a brief walk down to the start of the walking track to the Moroka Gorge, I returned to the camp and had breakfast. Rik was soon up. After packing up camp, we decided to head towards Mount Kent. I had been in the area in late 1998, but had not been as far as the Mount Kent Road.
Mount Kent VK3/VT-008 1561 m 10 points
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619
We drove out of the camp site to Moroka Road and travelled around to Shanty Hollow Road, which we followed to the start of Mount Kent Road. We climbed up to the saddle and swung west towards Little Kent, which looked spectacular. We stopped to grab a photo.
Back on the road, we continued onwards towards our target. Once around Little Kent, we enjoyed some spectacular views into the Wonnangatta River valley. The final climb up to the summit of Mount Kent was steep and had very deep wheel ruts in places. I engaged 4WD Low Range and chose my lines carefully. We popped out onto the summit area and more outstanding views. I drove towards the southeast corner of the summit area to park.
The first task was to enjoy some of the views and take some photos. We were looking down onto Mount Dawson VK3/VT-015 and Snowy Bluff VK3/VT-019, plus many more summits.
We returned to the vehicle and set up the station nearby with a line over a tree branch.
As we started setting up, I spotted for 20 m CW. Whilst I was setting up, Rik walked back down the track to exit the AZ and became my first contact from this summit. I started calling on 20 m CW and was answered by John ZL1BYZ. Next was Wynne ZL2ATH, followed by Jackie ZL1WA. Summit qualified in only 11 minutes, which included some of the HF set up time. I moved to 80 m CW and spotted the change in frequency. I soon had Paul VK3HN and Allen VK3ARH in the log. With no further callers, I handed control of the rig to Rik for SSB operations. I headed off down the track with my 2 m handheld and worked Rik when more than 30 m below the summit.
I returned to the summit and explored the summit cairn and took some more photos.
We packed up the gear and loaded up the car. We then retraced our inwards route back to Shanty Hollow Road, again stopping for some photos.
Once at Shanty Hollow Road, we turned west to explore the road. It was easy 4WD. At Shanty Hollow we found a large steep earth mound across the road, with the track beyond the mound having many fallen trees across the road. Mount Dawson would require a walk of about 2.7 km horizontally and a climb of over 330 m, with the final 600 m horizontal being a climb from the high point of the track through the scrub to the summit. We decided to save that trip for a later occasion!
We travelled back to Moroka Road and turned left onto Billy Goat Bluff Track and then Pinnacles Track to the car park at the end of the road.
We walked up to the summit of the Pinnacles to enjoy more spectacular views. You can see most of the surrounding country – hopefully the panorama photo gives you an idea.
We returned to the car and headed back to the start of Castle Hill Track. We ignored the track which headed to South Pinnacle. Several maps show the track heading to join Castle Hill Track. We soon found that the connection does not go, with the southern end of the track having undergone significant “rehabilitation”, with many large logs across the old route. I drove around the next target summit and parked at a small camping area to the SE of the summit.
Mount Valentia VK3/VT-017 1434 m 8 points
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619
We loaded up the gear and started climbing up the side of the summit until we were well inside the AZ. We had not carried a squid pole, as I was aware that the scrub was not conducive to achieving good antenna elevation. I had forgotten to grab the throw line, so improved with some straps joined together and a stick about 45 cm long. I took a few attempts to get the line over a branch, but the stick came free and came back and hit me before I could move away. I sensed that I was bleeding. I grabbed a clean handkerchief from my pocket to apply pressure. I instructed Rik to retrieve the first aid kit from my pack – the first time that it has been used. Rik applied some tape over the wound and we finally placed a line over a branch, but only at about 3 m about ground. We strung out the antenna and I was finally calling on 40 m CW. First in the log was Gerard VK2IO, followed by Andrew VK1DA/p on Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 in VKFF-0870. Ian VK5CZ was next in the log, followed by Ian VK5IS. The cut had started bleeding again, so I quit operating and again applied pressure to the wound. I worked Rik on 2 m FM before he returned from outside the AZ.
Even with spotting, Rik had a difficult time making contacts on HF. Nothing heard on 80 m. We heard Geoff VK3SQ call on 40 m, but he did not respond to Rik’s reply. We tried 20 m SSB for a few minutes, with no responses. HF propagation was odd and poor. We were aware that our low antenna would not be helping. Eventually, Rik worked Gerard on 40 m SSB. We gave up on HF and packed the gear. Rik made some contacts on 2 m FM to get the 4 contacts to qualify the summit.
We carefully descended to the car. I had a look at the laceration and immediately thought that a couple of stitches would be needed. I asked Rik to look and he agreed with my assessment. That assessment meant that the rest of the SOTA activity was over for this trip. Priority was to have me checked out. Rik offered to drive, but I was feeling fine. We had lunch and retraced our access route to Pinnacles Track then headed to Marathon Road to exit the area. We drove to Briagalong, then Stratford and on to Sale and its hospital.
We parked and checked into Emergency. I waited about 30 minutes before was called in for a detailed examination by the doctor. A nurse took BP and later administered a Tetanus shot. The doctor cleaned the wound and made an assessment and called the supervising doctor to confirm. After injecting local anaesthetic, she applied two stitches. I was cleared to leave, with a script for some topical antibiotic, less than an hour after arrival. I found Rik and we drove home and then to the local pharmacy. We fuelled the car and then back home for a meal.
Rik packed his gear into his car and headed back to Melbourne.
Despite the early end, we both had an enjoyable two days in the hills.
Once again, we both thank all who chased us over the trip.