One lunar month before the Muslim festival of Ramadan starts there is a public holiday referred to as "The Prophet's Ascension". As it had been quite some time since the last public holiday, we decided to make the most of the long weekend and to head off into the mountains for some camping as well as the excuse of playing on the radio.
I had last been in this area about seven or eight years ago, a time when getting everywhere out of the capital was more difficult. However over the last decade there has been a vast improvement on the road, see and air infrastructure. So much so that we arrived at approximately the bottom of the mountain in about 90 minutes.
Leaving the motorway (commonly referred to as a 'black top' when you are out exploring), we started climbing through some quite gentle graded roads. In front of us loomed the Hajar Mountain range.
The first village we passed, looked quite deserted. The most notable things being the massive boulders that at some stage had rolled down the mountainside and work now features in peoples gardens.
Going gets tough
The climb now was getting more and more difficult, where the road had been bulldozed out of soft earth at times there were small patches of cement to give us traction. All the time however there was a very large drop on one side - no space for any crash barriers here it seems.
Past 800 m, 1000 m we progressed until a very loud and annoying alarm went off inside the car. Pulling over I had never seen this warning light before so it was time to read the manual !!
Our brand-new Mitsubishi Pajaro did not like the amount of abuse its gearbox was having to take and is complaining that the gearbox oil was overheating. I quite sympathised with the car and so we sat looking out over the view for a few minutes in order to let the gearbox oil cooldown.
Arrived at the top
It is always a good feeling to get to the top of mountain - probably more so if you're walking, nevertheless we were relieved to be off what was quite a difficult road. In front of us stretched the vast empty spaces (or so it seems at first) of the Hajar Mountain range.
Keen to get out of the car and to stretch our legs we surveyed Area around us to try and find a suitable campsite. After two or three unsuccessful surveys we eventually chose a nice area away from the road.
As we had been due to leave last year, we had thrown away most of our camping shades - but in the week leading up to the holiday we had arranged the new shades to be made, and despite not be up to find the metal poles we used to use I came up with what I thought should suffice.
The campsite was so set up and most importantly we could sit down in the shade. I probably have not mentioned it was in excess of 40°C when we were at sealevel. We when now sitting at 1400 m where it was a much more pleasant 30°C.
Despite building the Elecraft KX3 in October, I have only seriously used it three times as I also have a full timeline set up at my home QTH.
This is what are use for my QRP station.
- Elecraft KX3 An amazing small HF transceiver. With excellent Rx sensativity - as well as being able to transmit Digital if needed. I am using the inbuilt KX3 CW Iambic keyer.
- Nike sports headphones (ear bud type)- light simple and cheap.
- BuddyPole Deluxe. Bought specifically for camping/QRP trips. Neat, well made as well as being quite versatile.
- A5 notebook for logging - yes no computer !!
- 12V Car battery. For 2 reasons - the radio and for the car (it is automatic - so no dump start possible)
Did it work ?
I worked on and off for 2 hours - at one time a small pileup was starting (seriously QRP pileup).
My summary stats were
- Number of QSOs 22
- Average Distance per QSO 7793.0 Kms
- Kms Per Watt 1558.6 Km/Watt
- Miles per Watt 968.5 Miles/Watt
I would like to try some of the lower bands - but I know this is not going to be good for the BuddyPole. Oman has a distinct lack of trees - so "throwing a wire" is just not possible. I have often wondered however about a kite .... Stay tuned.
Finally some photos of where we were camping