My family and spent the holidays in the Czech Republic this year. We enjoyed a few days in Prague, had a nice visit to Cesky Kromlov, and spent New Year’s in the Lipno ski area.
What better way to start the New Year than to activate a SOTA peak? OK/JC-038 (Okolí) was not too far away, and on Google Maps, it looks like roads approach reasonably near the peak. Going northwards from Lipno, we followed route 163 and then 162, but at one point a smaller, unnamed road branches off 162. I went right by it and had to turn around, because this road is unpaved and enters the woods. It was covered in light snow, the rental car was doing well with traction, and other tire marks made it obvious where the road was, so I drove in.
That road runs between farm fields and some forested areas and winds around. I more or less followed the Google Map and continued to climb. At one point, the road became rougher and I did not feel comfortable taking the car further because the center of the road was much higher than the tire ruts and the car did not have adequate clearance. I backtracked a bit to a fork and took a right, which continued to wind up the mountain.
As I approached the marker for the top of the mountain, I came to another fork. A ways ahead was a clearing with a permanent lean-to, a picnic table, and some taller counter-top tables. I did not see any clear indication of ownership, but from appearance I guessed they were public facilities, probably used more in the summertime, maybe a campsite.
A trail continued from the clearing into the woods, and I explored it for a few hundred meters to see where it went – it also divided in a couple places; my guess is that there is a considerable network. I wish I had a topo map. I did not see blazes and did not want to get too far from the clearing, so I went back.
I brushed the snow of the tables, tossed the end-fed into pine trees and got on the air. I tried 40m for a while, but gave up because contest stations blanketed the band. I tried answering a few, but got no responses because stronger stations were also replying at the same time. 20m did the trick, though, with contacts in Finland, Spain, Sweden, Russia, and Greece. I gave 10m a shot, but the band was absolutely dead. Finally, standing on one of the tall counters, I gave a few calls on 145.5 FM simplex and called it a day — having just come from Madagascar, the northern hemisphere winter days seemed very short to me, and I wanted to be back down to a paved road before dusk.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos on the way up (too busy driving) or after I had set up. My phone died at the top of the mountain and I had it on the charger, but forgot to take my usual operating position photo.