Saturday, 26 September 2015

SOTA Tour in Czech Republic OK/G4OBK/P Day Two

Day Two OK/G4OBK Tour: 26th September 2015

I was able to start my breakfast at Masaryk's Cottage just before 8.00am. Czech Republic local time is two hours ahead of UTC time in the summer. My planned linear walk went south over five 10 point SOTA summits from the Masaryk's Cottage on KR-069 on the Orlicke Hory ridge, finishing when I came downhill to the outskirts of the village of Orlicke Zahori. From here I had arranged to be met by Vrata OK1KT and Jan OK2PDT in Vrata's car, when I would be taken back to the Masaryk's Cottage. I left just before 8.30am (0630z) with a packed lunch in my rucksack. 
My 10 mile route on the Orlicke Hory ridge (Eagle Mountains) on the Czech - Polish Border
OK/KR-008 Velka Destna

The first summit crossed was OK/KR-008 Velka Destna, and a tarmac cycle route brought me close to it. There was an information board on the summit and a round shelter built from concrete blocks where I set up my station. As I was operating the summit was visited by several cyclists. The operation followed the same pattern on every summit I visited on the tour. It took around 10 minutes to erect the 5m pole (there was usually something to support the pole with bungees to fasten it), fan out my antenna and to plug up the FT-817 and start operating. I used the Rucksack Radio Tool for spotting which was possible on most summits in the area.


My chosen bands for the whole expedition were 30m (10 MHz) Morse and 20m (14 MHz) Morse / Voice which meant with varying conditions, I was able to log plenty of stations in the UK, mainland Europe and further afield, including USA, Canada and Australia. On average I was making around 25 contacts from each summit - on some summits less and on other summits more, using a simple home made link dipole. On this summit 27 contacts were completed before I moved off on the 40 minute walk to the next 10 point summit of Vresnik OK/KR-060. 
A viewpoint as I leave OK/KR-008 with some of the cyclists in front
Typical section of my walk route to Vresnik OK/KR-060
OK/KR-060 Vresnik

When I reached the highest point on the track at Vresnik I left it and set up the station among some young saplings in an area of the thinned out forestry land. The sun was shining now and it was most pleasant in the outdoors making SOTA contacts on HF. You don't get lonely when activating SOTA on HF with so many friends and ham radio acquaintances keen to make a contact with you... 
A timed selfie shot of me about to leave summit OK/KR-060
After KR-060 I soon left the main track to follow my GPS preplanned route through part of the forest. It was fairly boggy with no real discernable path but I got through quite easily. The previous day I had photographed a military bunker and I again did the same today, however this border line is full of bunkers... I must have passed at least 15 over the three days I spent on the ridge so to save repetition I won't publish the photo of the two I passed on the track between KR-060 and KR-009!
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OK/KR-009 Orel

This summit lies right on a shooters track, and I set up my station against what appeared to be a military communications hut on the flat topped summit. I found out the next day (when I met Jindra OK1NOR - purely by accident), that this was a Ham Radio Contest Club's Caravan and he belonged to the club! 
Ham Radio Contest Club Caravan at 1099m ASL on the 10 point summit of KR-009 Orel
Operations were becoming quite routine now. Job done I moved off and found a nice place to have my lunch at the bottom of the hill where there was a rustic table and bench by a forest hut.

A nice sheltered place with table and bench to have lunch
OK/KR-070 Homli

On my way to the highest point on Homli KR-070 I passed a comms tower. I then left the track and headed up into the woodland to set up on the highest point where the trees were more sparse. There was nothing worth photographing there, so here is a picture of the tower, which served as a marker for later in the afternoon when I returned there to go down a track which took me to Orlicke Zahori to meet Vrata OK1KT in his car:


After activating Homli I rejoined the cycle / walking path, which was well used. I passed many people, walking and cycling offering them the greeting of "Ahoy" which was the limit of my Czech lanuage skills as I went on my way... 
Following the track now to Tetrovec KR-062 to collect another 10 points
The village of Orlicke Zahori - where I went later on to be met by OK1KT in his car
OK/KR-062 Tetrovec

Among the many people I met on this route there was a walking group of around 10 young people, aged around 30. I passed them as they were picking and eating bilberries. Continuing on for another 500m I reached Tetrovec KR-062 and started to set up my station. The walking group arrived and as usually happens, wanted to know what I was doing. The leader had a really good command of English so I was able to explain, and we had an enjoyable discussion about SOTA, amateur radio and walking in the Czech Republic. I was then offered the hospitality of a drink of their home brew - which turned out to be a warming mouthful of Plum Schnapps - to my taste it was very nice!
OK/G4OBK/P enjoys a drink of Schapps with the unknown walking group
As I approached the end of the afternoon I packed the station up in readiness for the next days activity and made my way back to the comms mast I mentioned earlier. Jan OK2PDT had furnished me with a route down the the village, following ski tracks and a ski tow and I was sat by the roadside in Orlicke Zahori by 5.00pm local time awaiting the arrival of Vrata and Jan. This rural road which follows the Polish border, goes to Destne and is on a regular public bus route - a modern coach passed by as I waited. 

Vrata OK1KT and Jan OK2PDT (who I had worked earlier in the day for two "SOTA Completes" - thank you Jan) arrived within 10 minutes, and we returned to Masaryk's Cottage for a tasty Goulash Meal with dumplings and some Czech Beer.

Vrata OK1KT - Jan OK2PDT - Phil G4OBK in Masaryk's Cottage
I was able to thank Jan for his help with my route on the day and for telling me about Masaryk's Cottage where I was staying. The meeting was really enjoyable, we talked about SOTA and I learned a lot about life in the the Czech Republic and how things have changed since the country became free and independent.   Vrata returned home after a few enjoyable hours. He lives over an hour away in Hradec Kralove. Jan was staying some distance away from Destne. 

Day Two Statistics
  • Distance walked / ascent: 10 miles / 1470 feet ascent 2440 feet descent
  • Summits activated (5): OK/KR-008-060-009-070-062
  • Equipment used: Yaesu FT-817 (5 watts) link dipole 2m FM with 1/4 whip
  • Points claimed: 50
  • SOTA Complete: 5 out of 5
  • Contacts made on 20m CW/SSB & 30m CW bands: 130
  • Contacts made on 2m FM: 2 (OK1KT and OK1AYR/P S2S KR-080)
  • Total Summit to Summit contacts in the day: 9  

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