We consider a dense, ad hoc wireless network confined to a small region, such that direct communication is possible between any pair of nodes. The physical communication model is that a receiver decodes the signal from a single transmitter, while treating all other signals as interference. Data packets are sent between source-destination pairs by multihop relaying. We assume that nodes self-organise into a multihop network such that all hops are of length d meters, where d is a design parameter. There is a contention based multiaccess scheme, and it is assumed that every node always has data to send, either originated from it or a transit packet (saturation assumption). In this scenario, we seek to maximize a measure of the transport capacity of the network (measured in bit-meters per second) over power controls (in a fading environment) and over the hop distance d, subject to an average power constraint. We first argue that for a dense collection of nodes confined to a small region, single cell operation is efficient for single user decoding transceivers. Then, operating the dense ad hoc network (described above) as a single cell, we study the optimal hop length and power control that maximizes the transport capacity for a given network power constraint. More specifically, for a fading channel and for a fixed transmission time strategy (akin to the IEEE 802.11 TXOP), we find that there exists an intrinsic aggregate bit rate (Thetaopt bits per second, depending on the contention mechanism and the channel fading characteristics) carried by the network, when operating at the optimal hop length and power control. The optimal transport capacity is of the form dopt(Pmacrt) x Thetaopt with dopt scaling as Pmacrt1/eta, where Pmacrt is the available time average transmit power and eta is the path loss exponent. Under certain conditions on the fading distribution, we then pro- - vide a simple characterisation of the optimal operating point.