SOTA, or Summits on the Air

Over the past year and a half Summits On the Air, or SOTA, has become one of my primary interests in ham radio. In fact, it was July 5, 2017 I made the drive to Mount Magazine (Arkansas' highest peak) and did the short hike to the summit. I pulled out my KX-2 QRP transceiver, hooked it up to a small vertical, and proceeded to make contacts across the country on 20 meters.  I was hooked.

Since then I've done about 30 summits. Most have been in Arkansas, but a few in South Dakota.  I'll post some details and pictures from some of my favorite summits and hopefully, start recording the new ones as I get them on this blog.

Mount Magazine (W5A/MA-001)  was my first summit.  It's easy to get to on a well-marked trail from Mt. Magazine State Park.  At the top, you are in a cleared, paved area with zero view, so it's a little anti-climactic for most folks.

I quickly followed that with another easy drive-up summit, Mt. Nebo (W5A/MA-004).  As fall approached I was itching to get out in the woods and start activating more summits, but transportation was an issue.  We owned two cars, a Mini Coooper and a Mazda MX-5 Miata.  Both are great cars, but neither are designed for traversing National Forest Roads in Arkansas.   So in October 2017 I purchased a 1998 Ford Ranger pickup off of Craigslist.  That got me on the back roads and I managed to activate 27 summits in 2018, compared to five in 2017.  Now two weeks into 2019 I've done two summits and am planning a multi-summit trip to Oklahoma next week.

Here's a picture from my favorite summit so far -- Hess Knob (W5A/OZ-009).  I was the first to activate that summit -- which was a first for me.  At the top it had great views, a great place to operate and I had great weather.  It was a tough hike up in places, but good things don't always come easy.