The plan was to come into work early friday, get everything done, and scoot out before rush hour. The first stop was HickoryNut Mountain, W5A/CS-013, just west of Hot Springs. This was a new peak for me, but it wasn't too far off my path to Mena, AR (where I was spending the night) so I figured it'd be a good first stop. I got on site at 2030 UTC, grabbed my backpack and did the short 300 yard hike to the top of the mountain.
Buck Knob is technically a "drive-up" however the last 2 miles only barely qualifies as a road. I've been up it a couple times in the Jeep before, but lesser vehicles risk damage just looking at the trail. Took me about 30 minutes to do the two miles from the main forest road, but I made it in time to get my gear setup and enjoy the sun starting to get low in the sky. I made another 15 contacts between 40m/20m, and also just for kicks put up my 80m pocket inverted-v, and checked into the Razorback Net QRP portable.. which is always fun. After the net I piled back into the Jeep and started the trek back down into the valley. I got to my sleeping spot about 830pm, just as it got fully dark, and packed it in, preparing for the big day on Saturday.