The Bureau of Meteorology forecast for Saturday, issued on Friday was not looking too good.
Cloudy. Scattered showers with possible hail. Scattered snow showers about the ranges above 800 metres. The chance of thunderstorms from the late morning until evening. Winds northwesterly 15 to 25 km/h. Overnight temperatures falling to between 2 and 6 with daytime temperatures reaching between 7 and 12.
|Cleared tree on Acheron Way
- 0.0 km left turn into Carters Gap Rd
- 1.1 km pass Mt Vinegar Tk on the left
- 5.5 km tight left turn in to Road 8
- 5.1 km sharp turn right.
- 5.7 km sharp left bend
- 6.3 km clearing with fire fighting water tank and the remains of a tee-pee
- 7.7 km gate across road.
|Mt Vinegar operating position
Returning to the top I found a suitable tree on the west side of the road, so as to also be in the Yarra Ranges National Park, and set up the tent. The weather was OK but since I was planning to be on the hill for about 1 hour I wanted to be dry and the tent was ideal.
|Snow on my pack at Mt Vinegar
From Mt Vinegar I returned along Road 8, continuing northwest past Carters Gap Rd toward Dom Dom Saddle. Before reaching Dom Dom Saddle the road takes a right turn and meets Dom Dom Rd, about 1.8 km from the Dom Dom Saddle, or about 300 m west of where Rik VK3KAN suggests parking to access Mt Dom Dom.
It was here I made a classic navigational error. I looked at Rik’s map, which doesn’t show the road I had come along, and presumed I was much closer to the Saddle than I actually was. Looking at Rik’s map its about a 2 km drive from the saddle to the parking spot so I drove about 2 km east on Dom Dom Rd until the track got so bad I thought I must be going the wrong way. I pulled out my GPS and, sure enough, I had missed the parking spot. I turned around and drove back to the parking spot. It was raining quite heavy so I decided I would give this summit a miss and head further north to VK3/VN-027, Mt Gordon.
|Snow on the tent
Mt Gordon Rd leads up to a locked gate about 300 m from the summit. At the gate I was unsure if I was or wasn’t in the activation zone so I walked 250 m back down Mt Gordon Rd until my GPS got a fix and showed I was well outside the zone. I then walked back up, past the car and to the summit.
It had started snowing as I left the car and continued to snow on and off until I started to pack up.
I set the tent just past the summit and spent about 15 minutes trying to get a line up and over a branch. The first two attempts ended up getting tangled while the third attempt was successful. I rigged the antenna and was on air just after 1:00 pm and worked Wayne, VK3WAM, who was on VK3/VU-012 Mt Korong. Another summit-to-summit contact to start the activation. I moved up the band a little and worked 24 stations on 40 m and one station on 12 m before packing up around 2:00 pm. The snow had stopped but the area I had set up in had turned to mud and the tent fly was saturated. A bit of snow had also come inside the tent whilst I was setting up and the floor was quite wet as well.
|Mt Gordon operating position
I walked back over the summit, to my car, and headed back toward Narbethong.
Since I had not walked to Mt Dom Dom I was now ahead of schedule so I decided to head back down Acheron Way and try VK3/VC-002 Mt Donna Buang for the winter bonus points.
I grabbed my pack, without the saturated tent, and headed up the hill. I set the antenna in a tree near the edge of the clearing and set the radio, still in the pack, under the pack cover on a snow-covered table.
I called on 7.090 MHz and Peter, VK3PF, answered and posted a spot on sotawatch.org. Soon the chasers came and within seven minutes I had 11 QSOs in the log, snow piling up on the pack cover and, despite my waterproof pants, a cold bum from sitting on the snow covered seat.
|Car park at Mt Donna Buang
- Snow is very wet when it melts.
- My Thinsulate gloves are useless when saturated.
- Road 8 from Mt Vinegar meets Dom Dom Rd in two places, one with a gate and one without.
- Paper logs are difficult to write on under a pack cover in the snow.
- NiMh batteries don’t like the cold.