2013 disappeared in a whimper, radio wise I’m afraid.
Was it the rotten wet weather, the constant wind or was it apathy ?
I think it may have been the combination of all three.
I’d spent December with tunnel vision of achieving a certain amount of miles cycled. I had put what was my strongest month of the year, November with just over 300 miles tallied, mostly cycling the back roads and Route 75 . I had intended to do a total of 2,000 mile over the 12 month period, this was to include my walking, hills or local plus all cycling.
I’d hit a blip mid month with poor weather among other hiccups but finally pedaled past the 2,000 whilst passing the Lost Legion XVII on Route 75 early one morning. Not bad for a 60-year-old, clinically obese (but trying to cut) born again cyclist. Onwards and very slowly upwards, did I say I’m not a fan of hills?
Radio wise ?
The month SOTAwise was saved by working Robin PKT on his summit of Meall Gainmheich with three days of the month to go. I was active most days on HF working the bands from 80 to 10m depending on the time of day. No new modes tried as I concentrated solely on JT65. I’m trying to up my WAS and would love to make DXCC by the end of 2014.
Let’s just have a quick look back at 2013…
Straight out of the traps, Tinto along with Roddy 2MØIOB on a cold frosty January day was an enjoyable start to the activation trail. My yearly trip to Beinn a’Mhanaich was next, a hill I love returning to making some cracking contacts as it has excellent take off to the south.
The Hill of Stake was next as I took a holiday from work for this one, conditions were ideal for the ascent due to the cold weather firming up the usually soggy underfoot bogs, a pathless slog at times but recommended on a frosty day. I’ll remember how cold the constant east wind was that day. Beinn Chaorach in the clag was next hill in the log, my original first four pointer done in glorious sunshine but this day was murky. I next asked Katie for a quick run over to Duncolm on what was another cold snow on the ground day, a few steps through drifting snow but a good hill with a long walk in and out for a single point. I read a recent alert saying that the station would be on air in 30 mins..this including the walk-in down in GW land.
I picked a cold sunny day for next hill, the iconic Cobbler and had to maneuver through some snow nearing the top as I ascended the N face. A busy hill but an enjoyable day out. I like the access to these hills, a lovely coire to walk in and out after a slog through a lower forest section. The view as you head on to the open hillside is one to relish.
I had by this time taken up Geocaching with a vengeance and Ben Bowie was a six cache hill and another day spent in claggy conditions but caches logged. I was in full swing as soon after I returned to Beinn Dubh for another cache bash, seven in total but the weather was stunning that day and I enjoyed walking the horseshoe home although a bad blister curtailed the descent and Katie had driven up to the Beinn Eich drop off point in Glen Luss to pick me up.
I had looked across to Cnoc Coinnich that day as I rounded Mid Hill and mentally made a note, ‘Next warm sunny day’ and I did walking in from Ardgarten up along forest tracks before open hill then up a pathless but enjoyable ascent. I enjoyed this one….mind you I enjoy all the hills (even Cruach Ardrain).
I got lax and it took until August to head out again and Ben Donich was more a test of my knee as in the blog post, I said I had to find out if my knee had healed properly as the Welsh trip was nearing and I thought short, sharp Donich would be more than a test for it, I was okay for Wales. I was recently sent a link to a YouTube video on Donich and enjoyed it so much I think I’ll head back this year.
It was off to Wales, Snowdonia and Bangor…
The weather that we activated Tal y Fan was horrendous and with a quick kneel behind a wall, a handheld activation it had to be, we were assured it had fantastic views but I’ll need to return some day.
We decided that Snowdon would have to be done ASAP and off we set on a drizzly windy day but we soon met gale force conditions on the summit but a cracking day and another summit bagged.
A ‘tourist’ visit to Holyhead on our last full day and a quick dash up the impressively named Holyhead Mountain finished the trip and the activation year for me, I got lazy or more to the point I got mile crazy on my bike. The hills, Mhor the hills.
A good year SOTAwise and milestones reached were 250 points and chasing I passed the 3,000 point mark (all on VHF).
No doubt if you have read the occasional post you will have noticed my now passion for geocaching, I initially pooh poohed this but an offer (free) of a geocaching kit along with the Etrex GPS I bought and it led to my testing the GPS with a nearby cache just off the Green Rd, was it the fact I walked right on to the hidden cache ? or it was another way of getting out and about ? a bit of both. I remember taking part in youth club treasure hunts in which I was pretty nifty at solving the clues plus I had been a keen orienteer in my teenage years, wags please note we had compasses in those days. I soon racked up the caches in my local area and made trips on the bike to distant parts of the county to find and log these. Snowdon had me bag two, one just below the summit and the other was to take readings standing over the trig point, a ‘virtual’ cache. A first for me.
I achieved just over 100 found at the turn of the year, the problem now? I have to go further. I have however started placing caches along Route 75 between Port Glasgow and Linwood and have four in place and another two to place out soon. It’s just another excuse to head out.
No long rambling resumes this year as decided against the idea so hopefully 2014 will be just an interesting and more active year.
I finished two good ‘local’ books, the first Keith McGinn’s autobiography about his time working on the Clyde puffers, Last of the Puffermen. Most enjoyable reading, funny with an excellent insight to the hard life these people led in the delivery of literally everything to the outer isles. A real life Para Handy.
The second? a book in similar style, Duncan Graham writes about his time spent working in the heyday of the Clyde steamers, he writes a story which has all the japes and the fun but once again, the hard work behind the scenes on the Clyde’s once favourite outing, a day doon the watter. It took me back to the late 50s and 60s when Greenock Fair was not complete without heading out from Gourock to all parts of the Firth. It took me back to many happy days spent mostly in rain as Fair Saturdays tended.