SOTA: Hollenstein (OE/NO-149)

Sign with a scary looking squirrel: You are not alone in nature. For ecological reasons we ask you. not to drive this route. Illegal driving compels us to a suit of property felony (as rendered by Google Translate).
You are not alone!

I rented a car and visited two sites on my last trip to Austria on November 4th: Hollenstein and Hoher Lindkogel. The weather was still reasonably warm at the time, and neither site had snow. I started with the Hollenstein site, which appears on aerial photographs to be right next to a road and not far from a  hill-top restaurant. However, these are restricted forest roads, so while the road provides convenient access, prepare to park near the base and hike up. The day I went, the road was also in heavy use by other hikers, bicyclers and horse riders.

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SOTA: Hermannskogel (OE/WI-001)

I think it is due to a reshuffle of Austrian SOTA summits, but according to the current database, there is only one summit in the Vienna (Wien) region, WI-001, Hermannskogel. I guess that made the choice of which peak to activate easy.

The Hermannskogel is the highest point near Vienna, and up to World War I, served as the cartographic zero point for Austria-Hungary. The Habsburgwarte, pictured here, is a rebuilt stone tower that sits on top of the hill and sports a variety of antennas and radomes.

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SOTA: Cabeza Arcon (EA4/MD-053)

A view from the peak featuring my unusual choice of footwear for a mountain hike.

For my last summit activation in Spain on this trip, I had two enticing options: first, I could aim for some of the ten-point peaks that lie along ridges or I could activate a peak for the first time. There are two good prospects in the first category: the peaks of Valdemartin (EA4/MD-004), Cabezas de Hierro (EA4/MD-002), and the Asómate de Hoyos (EA4/MD-006) all along one trail, and it looks like that trailhead could be reached by taking the ski lift up from the Estacion de Esqui de Valdesqui (presuming it runs in the summer). Similarly, Najarra (EA4/MD-013) and Bailanderos (EA4/MD-011) lie along a trail, which could probably be accessed by parking at 40.82797N x 3.83015W.  In fact, it might be easier to reach Asómate de Hoyos by continuing west from Bailandreos rather than east from Cabezas de Hierro.

Predictably, I went for the first-time activation of EA4/MD-053, Cabeza Arcon. This is in no way a technically difficult peak, so I assume that it was recently added to the list of summits.

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SOTA: Nevero (EA1/SG-003)

Looking at SOTAmaps, several associations overlap to the north of Madrid. I realized that without really going too far out of my way, I could visit a ten point peak in the EA1/SG association, which would put me over the top for gold level on the SOTA mountain explorer award. I’m not that much into awards, but why not? Having flown 8000 km to get here, another 20 km on the road is a drop in the bucket.

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SOTA: Cerro del Castillo (EA4/MD-052)

Recently, I attended a conference in Madrid and had another one scheduled a week later in Vienna. Instead of flying back to Madagascar between them (insane), I decided to take a few days leave in Spain (sane and fun).

There are plenty of mountains within an hour’s drive of Madrid, and many of these peaks are found in national parks. Just to the other side of that central range is the historic city of Segovia, so I booked a hotel a few kilometers outside Segovia.

Between Madrid and the hotel, I identified Cerro del Castillo (EA4/MD-052) as a target of convenience. It is a four-point summit in a region full of ten point summits, but I thought that I could do it in what remained of the afternoon after checking out of the hotel in Madrid and picking up a rental car at the airport.

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SOTA W3/PT-001: Mt Davis

A view downward through trees of the activation site.
View from the top of the observation tower. My daughter waits patiently below for me to finish securing the antenna support line to the tower.

My final SOTA stop on the way back to Washington, DC from Indiana was at Mount Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania. Arriving towards the end of the day, I did not take advantage of any of the hiking trails from around the mountain, but followed signs directly to the parking area. A path leads around to a metal observation tower and a path continues past the tower to a sort of rock garden with some informational plaques. Not far from the tower’s base, there are some large boulders, where I set up the radio.

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SOTA W3/PT-004: Sugerloaf Knob East

An aerial view of the route back to Washington DC from Indiana, with sites identified by markers.
Sites that looked like quick side trips along the way back to Washington, DC from Indiana.

Yes, yet another Sugarloaf. I guess sugarloafs were very popular for long time and people saw them wherever they looked. I activated this Sugarloaf on the way back to Washington, DC from Indiana. This and several other SOTA summits are clustered near the Ohiopyle State Park. I have camped and white water rafted there a couple times in the past, but due to time constraints, I didn’t have much time to hang out in the park proper on this trip.

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SOTA W8O/NE-001: Noblet Benchmark

A map with sites identified near interstates 79 and 90.
Some SOTA sites along routes between Pittsburgh and Chicago.

On the way back towards Washington, DC from Indiana, I passed again through Ohio, this time to the south of the outbound route. I had targeted two SOTA peaks near Ashland, Ohio: W8O/NE-001 (Noblet Benchmark) and W8O/NE-003 (the Ashland County High Point). I did get to both sites, but only activated the former one. Both are discussed, below.

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SOTA W8O/NE-007: Summit County HP

A map with sites identified near interstates 79 and 90.
Some SOTA sites along routes between Pittsburgh and Chicago.

West of Pittsburgh in the direction of Chicago, the SOTA summits are few and far between, and what summits there are subtle, more like slowly graded hills than mountains. However, the Summit County HP, while not a eagle’s nest view, was my favorite summit from this trip.

I felt like I knew this town before I got there from looking at aerial photos and even “driving” some of it using Google Street View. The summit area is wide and flat, so there were a lot of options about where to pitch the antenna: the actual county high point, which is marked along the main road? In the trees behind the cemetery near a commercial antenna? In the parking lot of the Sikh Temple? Or in a park.

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SOTA W3/SV-019: Emmaville Mtn North

Continuing with activations on the way out to Indiana from Washington, DC, the next stop was Emmaville Mountain North, SOTA W3/SV019. The peak is on public property that can be accessed by following Bark Road. When I exited Interstate 70, my phone’s GPS initially wanted me to take Bark Road southwards and wrap all the way around. That didn’t make sense, since going the other way was shorter, so I ignored my cell phone GPS and went up the shortest way. Continue reading “SOTA W3/SV-019: Emmaville Mtn North”