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Mount Magazine Sunset
February 11, 2005

Most of my outdoor adventures are for the primary purpose of visiting a place that “must be seen”, but I can’t deny that sometimes I go out just to satisfy the urge to take pictures. I can’t remember the last time the afternoon skies looked promising for a good sunset and I was in a position where I could slip out for a photo shoot, but finally on Friday afternoon things fells into place. While trying to figure out where I might go, I remembered there was a road going to the western end of Mount Magazine that was closed to vehicles but open to foot travel and bicycles. I left work early, ran home and changed into some warm clothes, grabbed my camera backpack, and threw my new mountain bike in the back of the truck.
An amusing thing happened right after I got on I-40 heading east towards Ozark. That afternoon the air was so clear that Mount Magazine was plainly visible in the distance even though it was over 40 miles away. It just struck me as very funny that I could already see my destination though I was an hour away from it.
As usual I was pressed for time by the time I arrived at the gate blocking the 2-mile gravel road leading to the lookout. According to the topo map the road should have been flat; instead there was a slight uphill grade that had me taking several breaks, still I made it in about 20 minutes. I spied a small outcrop off to the left and rode the bike through the trees to near the edge. I enjoyed a spectacular view of Blue Mountain Lake and the Petit Jean River Valley to the south.
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Before it had a chance to turn colorful, the sun disappeared behind a bank of thick dark clouds above the horizon. A few minutes later the sky above the dark clouds turned a fiery orange. I put the telephoto lens on the camera and zoomed in on the mountains to the west and southwest. At the time I had no idea which mountains those were, but when I got home and reviewed the pictures it dawned on me the mountains to the west were the Sugar Loaf Mountains, whose tallest peak is across the Oklahoma line 45 miles away.
When it was apparent the sky wasn’t going to get any prettier, I quickly packed away my gear and hopped back on the bike for the return trip. I was a little worried I would run out of light, but this time the slight downhill slope to the road had me flying. I made it back to the truck in under 10 minutes.