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Spring on Mount Magazine
April 1, 2007
The trees put on their new spring leaves way early this year, and by the time work let up enough that I could take off for a weekend hike, I felt like I'd already missed the show. Then I remembered that the upper elevations of Mount Magazine are usually a few weeks behind the rest of the state regarding the arrival of spring, and my choice for a destination was easy.  I arrived at Sunrise Point and quickly unpacked the camera, trying to set up a shot that would catch the sun as it first peaked above the horizon. Except the sun arrived about 5 minutes too soon, and it was so bright from the outset that I just gave up and decided to shoot the backlit treetops in the hollow below. I had company for the sunrise, sort of. A couple of bluffs up the hollow a group led by a state park ranger was enjoying the view from Inspiration Point.  I turned the camera toward them and took a few shots.
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It was only a 10-minute hike back to the truck. I shed some of the layers of clothing I had on, then drove over to the Cameron Bluff drive to see if there was any fog on the north side of the mountain. I parked at the covered shelter past the amphitheater and got out to admire the bluffs west of the Brown Springs picnic area.
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Next I drove on around the loop drive and stopped at the scenic overlook with the rock wall. I got out the camera and tripod, climbed up on the narrow wall and barely managed to position my tripod so that all three legs had a resting spot. The reason for all of this was a rocky point over to my left that wanted it’s picture taken. The hillside directly across from me was nice too, with the low-lying sun lighting up the tops of the trees with their multi-colored spring foliage.
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At last I headed over to the gate at the road leading to the west end, to begin the real mission of the day. Every time I've visited - or even gazed upon from a distance - a spot on this end of the mountain, I've come away with a yearning to know More. I've wondered if it had a name, where it was on a map in relation to other landmarks, which stream or hollow was down below. If it was a distant object, how could I get to it? The plan this morning was to explore as many scenic spots as I could, and mark them with my GPS so that I could go home and place the spots on a map.
An as yet unofficial hiking trail begins at the nearby Brown Springs picnic area and heads west, following the contours of the north face. I took a shortcut along the road for the first half mile, then hung a right and departed the road to meet up with the trail at a spot Cliff and I discovered in February.  I'm naming it Icicle Cove. This is an amazing spot where the bluff line recedes inward, and four bluff wedges jut outward. The ice-fall we photographed in February was between two of these wedges. The top of one wedge has a big gap in it, another one is a massive chunk of rock that appears to be resting against the rest of the bluff-line. I'm calling this the Megalith. GPS coordinates for this area are N 35 10.219, W 93 39.585 (WGS 84, Degrees and Decimal Minutes).
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I got back on the hiking trail and followed it west. I went another half mile before spotting another overlook. This one I'm calling Ross Hollow Overlook (N 35 10.038, W 93 40.028). The open area up top isn't very large, but the view is fantastic. The bluff-line makes a big curve to the north and forms a point to the northwest, and just beyond that point off in the distance Horseshoe Mountain and Short Mountain are visible down in the river valley. A common theme to many of the pictures I took is the advancement of Spring up the side of Mount Magazine. Down below in Ross Hollow the trees were, well, "spring green".  But as elevations increased, the green decreased, and in many places near the top of the mountain the trees were still locked in their brown winter uniforms.
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About 300 yards farther, the trail passed Dripping Springs, then curved to the right to follow the big curve northward of the bluff-line I'd seen earlier. A small wooden sign pointed to a gap between two bluff wedges named The Window. I left the trail and walked out to the edge of the bluff on the left side. The short huckleberry bushes were bursting with red blooms, and honeybees buzzed about them. The picture at the top of this page was taken here. This is perhaps the largest series of bluffs on the west end.
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I headed back to the trail and continued westward. A couple of hundred yards farther I found an interesting rock formation I'm calling Camel Head (N 35 10.210, W 93 40.356). About 400 yards farther I made my last stop of the day. There was a great little overlook with several miniature oak trees growing right out of the rock. I took a break there,  had a snack and enjoyed the view. At my feet the rock was covered with what looked like dried-up worms. A closer look revealed that they were the catkins of the rare chinquapin tree. This was confirmed when I found several of the spiny burs that cover the nuts. So of course I'm calling this point Chinquapin Rock (N 35 10.142, W 93 40.480). It was past noon and I could see I was nowhere near the western tip of the mountain, so I decided to call it a day.
On the return trip I stuck to the trail all the way to Brown Springs.  The State Park folks have erected a sign at Mount Magazine Cascade, and there is a spur trail leading to a bluff overlooking the cascade. I marked the bluff with my GPS, and after looking at it on my topo maps and on Google Earth I realized it was part of the group of bluffs I was so interested in this morning from Cameron Bluff.

The image below is a screen shot from Google Earth of the western end of the mountain (viewed from the north), with my own labels added in Photoshop.
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