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The high point of Arkansas is located in the Ozark mountain range, in the northwestern part of the state. Magazine Mountain, 2,753 feet above sea level, is contained within the Mount Magazine State Park, about 50 miles east of Ft. Smith.
Actually, this was my third attempt at activating the Arkansas high point. Twice last fall, I announced via QRP-L an operating schedule, only to be deterred by vehicle problems and the weather. I was surprised that none of the local amateurs picked up the challenge, but finally on April 5, 2002 my wife Nancy, N0FNZ, and I succeeded in scaling the mountain. We combined the high point operation with the ArkieCon QRP Convention at Ft. Smith in an enjoyable two-day trip from our home in southwestern Missouri.
Arkansas has done a wonderful job with Mount Magazine State Park. The park is very clean and well maintained with excellent new facilities. A paved road circles the top of the mountain with several scenic overlook areas. The views from the Cameron Bluff overlook near the campground are spectacular.
After parking in the Cameron Bluff campground, we started up the high point trail. The hiking trail to Signal Hill, the actual high point, is about a half mile in length. The rocky trail climbs over two hundred feet in altitude as it winds its way upward through the forest.
Arriving at the top, we found a marker sign showing the elevation and two primitive benches. The high point is covered in forest with no scenic view possible. After Nancy snapped a couple of photos, I unpacked the QRP station and went to work. Nancy settled down with a book and enjoyed the forest solitude while I operated CW.
A 33-foot vertical wire was quickly erected over a handy tree branch. Two radial wires were deployed on the ground. I put the Elecraft K1 on one of the benches for an operating table and sat myself on a nearby rock. Twenty meters was the band of choice, and I quickly answered a CQ from WA5BDU/mobile. Nick was going down Interstate 40, less than 25 miles away, on his way to ArkieCon.
After a nice QSO with Nick, I answered a QRP call from Seab, AA1MY in Maine for the best DX of the afternoon. This was followed by a long rag chew with another mobile station, W8DO in Michigan. The final QSO was with Bill, K5LN a QRPer in Texas. Nancy and I stayed on the mountaintop for only two hours, as we did not want to be late for the evening festivities at ArkieCon.
The hike down the trail was easier than the ascent for two, slightly tired hams. Oh yes, the ArkieCon festivities that night were great!
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David Bixler, W0CH, is an avid QRPer and outdoorsman living in Seneca, MO.