TIPS FOR ACTIVATORS.
What to do in the planning stage.
- Check topo maps, Google Earth satellite view for scrub
- google search for articles from anyone who may have walked there before, eg local bushwalkers
- reports. Check long range weather forecast.
- If possible plan to line up activation time with other activations for S2S.
- Am I going on a trip that might take me past or near an interesting summit?
- Do I have a spare day I can be away from home so I can activate within say 3 hours travel?
- Study the SOTA maps pages to select possible peaks if I dont already know of them.
- Look for roads, parking and walking tracks to the summit.
- Check maps for access (forest explorer (url?), aussie explorer maps, Open cycle
- map etc.
- Check weather forecast
- Google search summit for other writeups or blogs
- Find out what summit has on it for attaching antennas to
- Is there shade on the site?
- Are there commercial repeaters on the site that might overload or interfere
- with radios?
- In my planning I consider what summits are near enough to activate,
- preferably those I have not activated before. This is easy in the
- early days of a new association or in a new year, but after that it
- will be a matter of what is accessible in the time available
- Check www.sotawatch.org/summits.php for past access reports
- Google location for other reports, blogs, hiking trip logs, DSE or Parks Victoria info
- Check www.geocache.com for nearby geocaches with access details
- Check interactive map at land.vic.gov.au for roads and contours
- Check Google Earth for visible tracks
- Check maps for access.
- Look for any info or clues for access.
- Will scan the Forest explorer PDF into MacGPS, place check points then send to GPS so the printed and GPS are aligned.
- Will also checkout the next summit on way home from a activation.
- There is a lot of history around these days to assist with access planning.
- Open OziExplorer with all the summits as weighpoints
- Look for a group of summits that I can combine into one trip
- Check any trip notes from other Activators
- Check the access approaches on the OziEx maps
- Open my Trip Schedule speadsheet and feed them in with the appropriate travel times between summits, I also use Google maps for some of the initial travel time estimates between towns - the TS spreadsheet gives me the activation times in both Local and Zulu time (I will provide a copy in the next few days, others may like to try it
- Use OziExplorere to plot the key weighpoints for the trip (summits, key road junctions, car park points, etc) and load into the GPS
- Print A4 maps of each summit area (forgot to do this on one occasion and paid the price of a wrong turn and added delay)
- Ensure batteries are all charged
- Post intentions to the SOTA site
- Check the weather forecast the night before or on the morning - In Feb I refrained from going into the bush due to the fire risk, likewise, no point going is the weather is really bad - the summit will still be there next week or next month or next year
- By going through this planning process I am then very familiar with where I am going and how long it should take
- Use of a charged smart phone allows checking/posting of Spots in most instances.
- Consider a spare battery for it or charging capability.
- In the bush phones often go flat much faster than normal
- And the rest follows the general approach of others My motto is "time spent on preplanning and preparation is never wasted"
- I have a prepacked day pack for SOTA activations with food, water, log book, lightweight water resistant jacket, radio gear, waterproof cover for the radio gear, etc. My squid pole is in a nylon cover that clips to the pack. If the weather looks dubious then I throw in my Bothy emergency shelter - a v large garbag can also be a good shelter in an emergency, and it weighs next to nothing.
- Remember food still in your pack does not produce energy
- It is also important to know how to use all your gear - esp GPS, emergency shelter, etc.
- For anyone taking a PLB remember to log into the AMSA PLB site before each trip and record your trip details - also setting of your PLB does not necessarly mean "instant" rescue, depending on the circumstances it may be the following day before the authorities can get to you
- Finally - "let someone before you go", details of your trip should be left with someone who cares - so that if you have an accident or are still out beyond your agreed "back in contact time" authorities can be notified with good information