West mountain, Arkansas
West Mountain (W5A/CA-014) is the one summit located within Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I activated this summit several years ago in the winter. This is a nice relaxing hike to the summit, however there are very little views from the top.
Summit Name: West Mtn, (W5A/CA-014)
Location: Hot Springs, AR
Date: January 19th, 2021
County: Garland County
Weather: Sunny, 53 degrees
On a Scale of 1 to 5
As part of my master SOTA plan of activating a SOTA summit in every state that has one, this was the first SOTA summit on a 8 day road trip through the south and part of the midwest.
Hot Springs National Park is a unique park in that it surrounds the city of Hot Springs, AR. Along the main boulevard are several bathhouses that have thermal pools that feed off the mountains. Back in the early days people would come to Hot Springs to relax in the warm spring fed pools to treat various ailments. Hot Springs was also notorious for speakeasies, illegal gambling and gangsters such as Al Capone.
Today, the art deco bathhouses have been restored and several are still available for bathing. Due to COVID, my wife and decided to skip the bathhouses and head to the hills above Hot Springs to activate a SOTA summit. The road that leads to the trailhead overlooks the town of Hot Springs so we stopped and had our morning coffee. For water, we stopped at the water dispenser on Reserve Street where hot thermal water flows from the tap. The water is hot enough that you do not need to filter it to drink it. This water is hands some of the best water I have ever consumed and makes excellent coffee.After getting in some views and coffee, we headed to the trailhead and I realized that it was in the mid 50’s, warm enough for shorts. This made me happy as a few days prior I was freezing with mid 20’s temperatures.
The hike from the trailhead to the summit is an easy hike with nice flat trails. On all the maps I had, it showed Sunset Trail as only one trail. Halfway through, the trail branched off. There was sign that indicated which direction to go, however I was curious about the other trail that headed up the mountain. Coming back from the activation I noticed communications towers and I assume they wanted people to bypass them. At the summit is a nice rock ring where I set up for VHF and HF. Made some 2m contacts and switched over to HF where I had a nice pileup going. My wife sat on a rock and read a book, so she was happy.
This was also the hike that I realized that the power wire from the ground Anderson Power Pole had come loose. While I had my electronic tool kit in the car, it wasn’t going to help me on the summit. Using my tick tweeers and duct tape I was able to jam the wire back into the connector and taping it in place. It worked for the activation but would need to fix it later on.
Afterwards we headed back down the trail and decided to head into town for some food. Hiker hunger is real! After some crayfish/shrimp cakes, tamales and a Mexican chicken wrap I was full. Excellent food and an awesome hike.
We had planned on going to the Ouchita Mountains that are about an hour away from Hot Springs the next day however, our schedule got compressed so we decided to bypass them. I had activated in the NF prior as well, so my wife will have to wait till next time to hike them. If you are in the area, I recommend them as there some really excellent hikes and SOTA summits.
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