The early get-ups and late nights were beginning to take their toll, so a relative "lie-in" until 6am was agreed for Tuesday 26th October 2010. And this morning's expedition was eagerly anticipated by Jimmy, as Croslieve still remained an unactivated summit, and I had promised Jimmy that I would not operate until after he had made his first contact, and accordingly claimed the first activation.
It was yet another drive north from Omeath, past the fishing stands on the side of Carlingford Lough and back over the border into Northern Ireland. From Newry, it was another drive south west, but this time beyond Slieve Gullion and its forest park, and into the village of Forkill. Jimmy now called the directions along the narrow country lanes on a murky misty morning. We parked on a verge between two properties close to where Jimmy had determined we would begin the walk.
We walked up a track beyond a large double gate, which soon curved around to the left and behind a house where the pre-warned about barking dogs did not disappoint. We climbed gently through a field full of bullocks and curved around to the right towards the large looming hill ahead. An upwards groove and a stile matched well with the research Jimmy had done in previous weeks, and we pressed on aiming generally upwards. The final climb onto the summit was rocky and scrambly, and three point contact and a bit of effort was required.
As we hit the summit, we looked despairingly across the misty valley to see an even higher hill looming ahead and above. Dejected, we hauled our now tired bodies across in that direction, but Jimmy soon found that the mist was playing tricks on us, and that in reality, it was just a small lump on the same summit area. Furthermore, he was able to confirm that the first summit reached was the 'true' one. He returned there to set up for 2m FM, while I used the shallow saddle between them, about 10 to 15m below, to play HF with more shelter from the weather.
After Jimmy's struggle to get his four on 2m the previous morning, and the difficulty in making SSB contacts on 40m depsite CW being so good on the same band, I had elected to take 80m with me this time. But results were disappointing, and I made just five QSOs on 3.5MHz, four on CW and just one on SSB. Jimmy was indeed struggling though, and had made only two contacts on 2m FM. 80m SSB was a struggle too, but despite QSB which was troublesome for some would-be chasers, Jimmy did manage to get the two further contacts required.
It had been a late (relatively) start, and a more challenging and time-consuming ascent than anticipated, so we were behind schedule for returning to the cottage in Omeath. Fortunately, I found a better route off the summit which avoided all scrambling, and we made good time getting down to the car. Tomorrow we would head into the Mournes for a full day expedition. Thanks to the following stations worked: