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Mount Magazine, part 2
May 19 through June 6, 2004

With little over two weeks until the photo contest deadline I was starting to get worried. More butterfly species visit Mount Magazine than any other place in the state, yet after six trips I had seen few and photographed less. Friday evening, June 4, Stacey and the boys were off visiting some friends so I left work a little early and headed back up to the mountain even though it was cloudy and gray here, and the weather radar showed the same for my destination. I drove through a few patches of light rain on the way.
As I was pulling into the State Park visitor center I could see that Signal Hill was actually in the clouds. I parked the truck and started hiking down Will Apple’s Road trail. It was great to be hiking in the woods again! What they say about Mount Magazine being 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding areas is not publicity hype.
I came upon a big patch of woodland sunflowers and was pleased to see several small butterflies hanging out. These were the same kind I’d seen last weekend, but at least they kept still long enough to have their picture taken.
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I’d only hiked half a mile, very slowly because I was butterfly hunting, when I decided it was time to turn around and go back. I wanted to find a way down to the bluffs below Brown Springs. The clouds started breaking up around the time I got to the truck and I could see patches of blue sky here and there.
There weren’t any trails down to the bluffs. I had to bushwhack through a maze of blackberry vines and big old cedars, and I was just wearing shorts and a t-shirt. But it was a short walk. I had a great view of Cameron Bluff to the north, and I was pleased to see that the sun was far enough north that it would set clear of the bluffline I was on. As the sun sank lower and lower it turned the haze down in the valley to the northwest a wonderful soft orange. I put a telephoto lens on the camera and got a great shot of Horseshoe Mountain and Short Mountain, next to Paris, rising up out of the haze.
The sun turned a deep red just before it set, and the clouds above some amazing reds and oranges. I’m sure glad I didn’t pay too much attention to the gray clouds a couple of hours earlier.
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I made my eighth and final trip to Mount Magazine early Sunday morning, June 6. Again I got up at 4 so that I could make it to the mountain before sunrise. Once at the park I decided to take another look at the nature pond near the Petit Jean River valley overlook. There wasn't anything to get excited about at the pond, though I’m sure most of that was because I was so tired. I hiked back to the truck and drove East to see if there were any places with a view of the sunrise. There weren’t. The wind was also blowing quite a bit for it to be so early, which depressed me even further so I just turned around a drove over to the Brown Springs picnic area to take a nap. I opened the passenger side door so that my feet could stick out, laid down in the front seat and slept for two solid hours.
When I woke up, a cereal bar and a cup of coffee didn’t improve my attitude any so I decided to just head to the house. Somewhere along the road between Overlook Drive and where the loop drive around Signal Hill splits there were several patches of bright orange Butterfly Weed. I spotted lots of butterflies flying from cluster to cluster so I pulled the truck off the side of the road and wound up spending the next two hours shooting pictures. I left a lot happier than when I arrived.
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