Ascent of Rich Mountain on 2010-10-04

Climber: Heather Hasch

Date:Monday, October 4, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Rich Mountain
    Elevation:2681 ft / 817 m

Ascent Trip Report

2681 ft.
Rich Mountain

Monday, 10/4/2010

Back in the truck after 2 Louisiana HPs, I was now set for a long drive north. I had decided to head into Oklahoma for a couple counties I had researched, mainly for the pride I would feel as I colored in a county in a new state, as well as the pleasure I would gain from reaching a new personal-best westernmost extent in my HP career. It was too near (relatively speaking) to pass up. After these two counties, it would be working my way east to arrive at the Konvention by Thursday night. Konvention activities were to begin Friday morning with the group hikes led by Roy Wallen.

Once again, I set my GPS for the Oklahoma HP coordinates. I then headed north to do what I could later today or tomorrow. The route from Lincoln Parish to Oklahoma took me through Bossier City, LA, where my father’s brother (my uncle, for those who are family-tree challenged) lives. I decided against calling him and trying to stop in for a visit because of the delays it would bring to my HP travel plans. Sorry, Uncle Frank, and I hope you understand. I really did want to stop in, but really, maybe not…

I continued north, passing through Texarkana, AR. I never did enter Texas, though at one point I was driving north on a highway where the east lane (northbound) was in AR and the west lane (southbound) was in TX. This was one of the dullest stretches of driving on the entire trip since much was on two lanes and passed through several smaller towns.

I continued north and arrived at one of the larger towns along the way, named Mena, AR. From here, I continued north along US71 until I reached its junction with US270. Highway 270 was a nice, (relatively) level highway that passed through the valley and trended west to northwest for about 35 miles until it reached Heavener, OK. I stopped for gas in Heavener, and it occurred to me at that time that I had notes to some AR county HPs that were south of I-40. I had thus far ignored the possibility of western AR HPs on this journey from LA to OK. Perhaps I should check those notes to figure whether it made sense to divert and visit any of those HPs before I continued on to OK.

It’s a good thing I checked my notes. To my surprise, I found that I had passed just under one of the HPs along US270, namely Rich Mountain of Polk County, AR. In fact, a road from Mena, namely AR88 and a/k/a Skyline Drive, passed right over the summit of this mountain, not much of a detour from my present route.

I recall seeing signs to Rich Mountain just before I crossed the AR/OK state line. That was 30 minutes ago. Realizing this was the best time to visit that HP, I turned around to return the 35-40 miles or so to the mountain’s turnoff. It was now a race against time, and I would kick myself if for some reason I was not able to get the HP today. I had been so close, and yet so unaware of my surroundings. Let’s call it a learning lesson. I hope to be better prepared and not let this experience repeat itself in the future. But the sun was setting, and daylight would be limited even if I did get there before the sun dropped below the western mountains.

I was back at the turnoff I had passed about an hour before. From here, it was a quick climb of the mountain, and then a turn onto AR88 to arrive at the HP. Actually, the HP is found in a well-kept park-like setting complete with bathrooms, benches, and information kiosks. The HP is on the highest land in Ouachita National Forest, and the HP area is maintained by the forest service. The HP area contains a fire tower, which was fenced off and therefore not climbable. I found and took pictures of the BM. Unfortunately, those pictures are not too clear because of the fading sunlight. Then I wandered around a bit before leaving the mountain. It was 7:12pm when I arrived, and the sun set into total darkness by 7:30.

Rich Mountain is a pretty setting, and it was definitely worth the return trip to visit this HP, one of the highest elevations in the state. Trip statistics: Time = about 18min entire visit; Distance = approx 0.30mi to wander around; Elevation gain = 16ft total gain.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:17 ft / 4 m
    Extra Gain:3 ft / 0 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.3 mi / 0.5 km
    Route:Wandering around the park
    Trailhead:Parking lot at fire tower  2670 ft / 813 m
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:9 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:9 Minutes

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