This activation had lots of firsts for me: it was my first solo SOTA activation, my first previously un-activated summit, my first decent hike in snow shoes, my first activation using my KN-Q7A and my first pileup! Mt Tabletop (VK3/VE-028) is about 10km from Mt Hotham not far from Dinner Plain village. It is a 5.8km hike starting from JB Plain car park that first traverses open flats of the plain before descending quite steeply to a valley floor, passing an alpine marsh and then climbing slowly up a ridge line to the flat top. There is forest the whole way that has been fire affected in places (particularly the top of the mountain). The trees near the top are mostly snow gums and don’t present significant hazards even burnt. In summer the hike is 1.5-2 hours each way, but I took 2.5 hours each way in snow shoes as they slow you significantly. This hike would not be practical on skis due to the density of forest.
The track is marked by orange triangle markers, but in places some appear to be missing and at times I had to hunt around to find the track. Hence competence with a map and compass is important for this hike. In summer, the track is not too hard to follow in most places as there’s a worn path visible for much of the trip, but in winter with a snow cover you need to rely on the markers and your map.
The view from the top is fabulous on the south eastern edge of the escarpment.
Care needs to be taken as the cliff edges are high enough you wouldn’t want to fall.
For this activation I was testing out my KN-Q7A 40m SSB transceiver. This is a kit transceiver from www.crkits.com. It is approx 10W PEP and has simple VXO tuning. The big advantage is the compact size and the 50mA receive current draw. I used my SOTABeams linked dipole on a squidpole for the antenna and the setup worked beautifully.
On this activation I managed 25 contacts as far away as Newcastle, so very pleasing. It was the first time I’d worked a pileup, so a good learning experience there.
Here’s a few more photos from a fabulous day in the snow. Most were shot with a GoPro Hero 2 camera.