The view from the "Langer Berg" - the big bridge in the valley will be used by the highspeed train "ICE" (270 km/h) from 2017 on. Of course not a completely un-controversial project as the route connects big cities while the locals down there have the wealth of bridges, plus a newly built Autobahn plus a 380kV-line to come...
As one of the few workfree days appeared I planned to go to our region´s best known mountain, the "Schneekopf", to enjoy the splendid view from 978 m height. "Such a biggie may even be a case for those SOTA-guys" came to my mind as I remembered that there is a group of enthusiasts acitivating and chasing summits as others activate and chase countries, islands or their regional districts. Some clicking - and the big surprise: This 978 m high thing (to which many will owe one or another VHF-/UHF ODX working DL0GTH from there) doesn´t count for SOTA. :-(
As I then also remembered from locals talking about disputes and rules I didn´t dig too deep into it as seemingly every set of rules comes to some conflicts with the basic ideas and understanding of what i.e. a country or "entity" (=DXCC) is or what constitutes a mountain (at least a look in the yearbook of our statistic office revealed that they still quote it as the second highest mountain of Thuringia).
But be it as it is - the basic idea of activating and chasing mountains still seemed interesting, so I looked for another mountain not too far away to snug it into the available hours.
I tried the "Langer Berg" ("long mountain") not too far from Ilmenau which many may know from working contest station DF0HQ/DA0HQ, which is named in the SOTA-system as DM/TH-135 where DM means the medium seized mountains other than the alpine region of DL and "TH" stands for the federal state of Thuringia. A look through the fine websites of the G-originated SOTA-program (with a lot of data about chaser`s and activator´s points, mountain-lists with a wealth of additional info up to clickable location in google-maps), a few questions on their reflector and - important for the chasers a short notice about day, time and bands of the acitivity on the site SOTAwatch - ready to go. The forecasted stormfront went slowly enough allowing to access the summit with the monument of Karl Günther von Schwarzburg–Sondershausen former count in the area silently watching now...
Sculptured as a hunter he must have been proud about the summit chasers: Already during the first CQ after spanning a doublet for 40m and up I could hear callers between my call - the activation alert on SOTA-watch and a set of preferred "SOTA"-frequencies let them find me quickly. The chasing community seems to be quite big in numbers given that I was active before noon on a regular workday. The initial CQ produced more than 40 QSOs in about the same number of minutes. About the same number came during the next two hours changing between 20, 30 and 40m with the bulk of activity on 40m. Being still an EU-dominated hobby in the hobby those bands deliver the most qsos (with the strange condx this day allowing even Finland around noon on 40m and little to nothing on 20m).
Being not in a rare DXCC-country I tried to not resort to 599 only. It was difficult only in a few times with many callers which I didn´t want to left unanswered (using 20 W instead of real qrp makes it easier for all on both sides). I ended up with at least a "gm", regular addition of the name and of course of the "SOTA-reference" DM/TH135. But as it is often with portable operation - the most memorable moment was not a ham moment. During a pileup I noticed a movement close to me leg, thought "quite big for a worm" and then realized that it was too thick for a worm and with 20cm length would have been a record worm. A seemingly young blindworm-snake ("Blindschleiche") as I guesstimated crawled through the grass. While still working callers I grasped the camera and tried to make a picture which only shows a thick brown dash under green grass... Always next time... - be it a SOTA-mountain or any other portable location.
Some more SOTA-pictures showing landscape, visitors with different numbers of legs, and equipment.
In the meantime SOTA took the backseat, because they decided to delete a lot of summits in Germany (due to their definition what constitutes a summit), meaning that for the majority of summits too much driving would be needed - thus reducing the time for hiking and operating. So the more friendly alternative has become GMA with more summits in friendly distance. Nice :-)