Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Weather forecast looking almost as grim as the anticipation of impending doom of tackling some DIY plumbing in our kitchen at some point - apart from Good Friday, which looked half decent.
Knowing I'd be awake at the normal 'weekday alarm time' (or a little earlier) we planned to make the most of the best day (weather-wise) and get out in the hills. I packed our gear up after returning from the club on Thursday night and started looking for a suitable summit to activate.
Awake at 5:30 I got the coffee on and gathered all our stuff up ready to load the car. As expected it was after seven before we managed to get out of the door but still a respectable time. Heading up the A1 for the A66 the traffic was fairly light. Two hours later and we were on the last mile of our journey driving down the dead-end road down the side of Hawes Water. This was a new destination for me and it didn't dissapoint, the views driving down the side of the lake were stunning.
Setting off from the car the aim was for High Street at 2717 feet. As we gained height the wind really picked up, and although there was some blue sky and it looked lovely in the photos it was a little cold (I guess it is still March).
Stopping to take some photos and gather our breath I attempted a few panorama shots on the phone, the wind was now so strong I couldn't hold it steady for a decent shot - I started to doubt the possibility of putting up the SOTA pole for my HF wire.
Once on the summit I decided to try activating HF with the wire at low level (as in 2" off the top of the dry stone wall). Just unpacking my kit was enough for my hands to freeze up, I could barely feel anything and trying to screw in a PL259 became a ridiculous challenge - I'm now beginning to feel like packing everything away and getting moving fast. But we've made it all the way up here, I switched the radio on and immediately wished I'd set the frequency etc ready for immediate activation. It was really just my hands, we both had enough gear on and were otherwise warm but my fingers were seriously hurting and the weather was starting to turn. I put 2 calls out on 14:285 (we were bang on time for the alert I'd posted on sotawatch.com earlier) but nothing. I wasn't in the mood to hang around calling so put plan B in to action, 2m FM.
Deciding against using the HT (with the potential of further frustration) I found the 2m antenna for the 817 in my bag and popped it on whilst removing external batteries, tuners etc. I asked Di if she'd pack up the wire with me which we did in record speed, stuffing everything back in to my pack I kept out the 817 and quickly put a call out on 145.500, straight away David G6LKB came back to me and we QSY to 400. Explaining I was now looking for a quick activation and needed to get off the top David put a spot on for me which was very much appreciated although I suddenly didn't seem short of stations to work. Bagging 5 including a Wainwright G0PEK & M6HLR and Phil M0AYB who was also heading for the summit. I soon packed the 817 away and we were moving.
As always you need a plan B when out in the hills and should never push on with something against your better judgement, it wasn't an HF kind of day.
Until next time. 73, Morgan 2E0TTK