I was planning for about a month to go for a SOTA trip to the Retezat Natural Preserve with YO2BP and activate some nice 10-point summits; the nature is really beautiful there and I wanted to see it for some time now, plus the weather predictions looked awesome. Unfortunately, something came up that made the trip not possible, and as I already had my bags packed and got into the SOTA mood, I decided to at least do a short trip to some acessible peaks I haven’t activated yet.

So, in the morning of September 18 2014 I got in the car with a friend of mine and drove to the small touristic town of Predeal (about 140Km North of Bucharest), looking to activate something in the surroundings. The initial plan was to make this a 2-day trip so I could get 4 summits, but due to various reasons it ended up as a one-day trip so I could only activate two of them.

YO/EC-252 Piatra Arsa (1258m, 6 points) was my first target: we took the car on DN73A for about 5Km, until a small road goes to the left (and on to a lodge, not sure about it’s name). Even if there’s paved road there is a sign that says something along “Natural Preserve Area, motor vehicles forbidden”, so we leave the car and start the hike. Sure enough, 10 minutes later we are near the lodge and behind it starts a path uphill towards the peak, so we take it. We already can see some surroundings from there:

The path has been obviously passed by alot of motor vehicles, probably forest rangers with GOOD 4×4’s.

At a certain the main path seems to go downhill so we take a small one that goes straight uphill.

Some portions are even steep enough that require us to go on all fours, and when we look behind we wonder how we’re going to go back.

The steep climbing ends at the ridge and there’s a nice reward up there: great view of the mountains and the valley on the other side.

Nevertheless, from here the hike to the peak takes less than 10 minutes and it’s easy. For the first time since I do SOTA activations I happen to forget something: the fishing pole for my antenna. But I’m very lucky, as this is also the first time I activate a peak in a forest so it’s easy to string the wire up in a tall tree. Tuner does it’s job, I get on the air, the reports are not great but I manage to work 16 stations on 20m.

Next stop is YO/EC-241 Fitifoiul (1292m, 6 points), probably the easiest peak I’ve ever activated. We parked the car on the side of the road to the famous “Trei Brazi” (Three Pine Trees) lodge and took a 30 minutes walk on a forest road; the peak is in the middle of this road, at a crossing !

This time I took the fishing pole and decided to plant the antenna right in the middle of that crossing, as it had better clearing from the surrounding trees.

I managed to work 18 stations on 20m with much more consistent reports than at the first summit, and then went to wonder around a bit on 15m while we had a snack. I find a very strong JA station but the euro-pileup is too strong for my water pistol to break trough.

My setup was the usual QRP stuff: Yaesu FT-817ND, LDG Z-817, SLA 12V 7Ah and a 6.5m fishpole vertical.