Arkansas – Mount Magazine

Having two summits in our pockets, Spanky and I smiled at each other and confidently started making our way up to Little Rock, Arkansas. Why Arkansas? We had a hell of a good motive. A place to stay and sleep in a real bed! David Kelly (son of one of my closest friends Ken Kelly) and his wife Amy live in Little Rock. I’ve known David since he was a teenager. We’ve jet skied, dirt biked, and snow skied together. I’ve watched the lad grow up and become a responsible adult. David is currently serving in the Air Force and is stationed at the Little Rock Air Force Base – “The Rock.”

We arrived at David and Amy’s late that afternoon and that is when the mayhem began! Doggie mayhem that is. David and Amy also happen to have two dogs, Keeshonds named Katie and Lacey. The moment I let the Spankster out of the truck, Katie and Lacey came bounding through the gate. There was a brief hesitation on Spanky’s part but within a nanosecond the three of them were going berserk playing “let’s run around in circles at full speed aimlessly for the rest of the day!” The dogs were instantly best of friends (Lacey was a tad jealous of Spanky and Katie – both younger and faster). Couldn’t have asked for a better place for Spanky to shake off the grind of life on the road.

Me and David and Amy got caught up on chit chat, ate a most excellent meal and watched the dogs frolic into the night. It wasn’t long before the old eyelids started to get heavy and all the humans and canines hit the sack.

On the morning of March 3, 2007, Spanky and I struck out to bag another one – Mount Magazine, Arkansas – about 100 miles west of Little Rock. Our journey first took us west on Interstate 40. Maybe a half hour out of Little Rock, the traveler begins to see the Ozarks (technically I was seeing the Quachita Mountains of the Arkansas River Valley – but who the hell ever heard of the Quachitas?) off in the distance. As you get closer, stone bluffs start to reveal themselves. These bluffs are characteristic of the mountains in this area. The Quachitas are actually ancient sea bed that uplifted as a result of continental drift. The hard capped stone mountains were exposed through a zillion years of erosion from streams and rivers that ripped away at the softer rock. Voila – Mount Magazine.

These ain’t the Rockies but they are the first real mountains that we saw on this particular westward journey out of Florida. I always get a thrill (maybe I’m weird) when I start to see mountains rising in the distance. Don’t know why, just do. In any case, it was a beautiful clear morning, the mountains looked cool, and me and Spanky were groovin on it!

Once we got off the interstate, it was a nice ride through rural river valley farm country with the mountains just off to our west. About 10 miles from Mount Magazine the road starts to climb. At this point we are going through dense forest (mostly hardwood so no leaves cause it’s winter time), the road becomes a series of switchbacks, we start to get up into the rocky bluffs, there are a few small waterfalls and streams surrounded by moss covered rock, very picturesque! We are definitely not in Florida.

Spanky notices that we aren’t driving too fast anymore. He is on his tippy toes looking around, taking it all in, knowing that something is up, and waiting with anticipation. We pass a sign announcing that we are entering the Ozark National Forest and soon thereafter Mount Magazine State Park. I digress for a moment. Arkansas is a beautiful state. It offers a bounty of natures finest – check it out if you have a chance. It wasn’t long before we came upon the Mount Magazine Visitor’s Center. The Visitor’s Center is fairly new and is done up like a typical mountain lodge. It’s got all kinds of good info about the park and the mountain, a gift shop where you can some real nice, some really cheesy mementoes of your visit, and it’s got restrooms! I got a map of the park so me and Spanky would know where the hell we were going.

Finally, I park the truck at the summit trail head. Spanks is wagging his tail and can’t wait to get out and run around. The trail up to the summit is approx half a mile. Not a major climb by any stretch but a nice little up hill walk. Today’s challenge is that despite it being a beautiful clear day, it is in the 30’s with probably about a 30 mph wind. A wee bit nippy for us Florida people. Fortunately I had brought the appropriate clothing with me so the chilly temps didn’t faze us. Another concern is that this is bear country. Hiking in the woods in bear territory with a dog is asking for it. Bears see a little guy like Spanky and they immediately think “lunch.” But it is winter time and I think the beasts are still in their caves.

Spanky and I made it to the top in no time. As I have mentioned, Spanky has become quite a hiker. He follows the trail and pretty much stays with me with only a little bit of parental guidance. The summit is great. At 2,753 ft this is our first real mountain. There is a fantastic view into the river valley below. We are alone at the top listening to the rush of the wind through the trees, checking out the scenery, and just chillin with nature. Somehow the Anna Nicole Smith saga just doesn’t seem that important at the moment. Truthfully, Spanky isn’t chillin, he’s running around sniffing up a storm and marking his third summit as any good dog would.

By now you should know our summit routine, pictures, check out the coordinates and elevation with the GPS, give Spanks some water, etc. Once our summit checklist is complete we head back down to our trusty pickup. The park offers a scenic drive so we do the tourist thing and check it out. Actually it was well worth it. Got to see some spectacular views of the bluffs and the valley below us from a whole bunch of different perspectives – check out the pics!

With number three nailed we head back to Little Rock, but not without a stop at a Super Walmart that we stumble across along the way. Knowing that we were facing sleeping outdoors on some more 30 degree nights, I decided to pick up a little portable heater. Equally as important, I picked up a couple of 1lb bags of beef jerky for me and Spanks to munch on during our long hours on the road.

In the evening, Amy, David and I went out to a local Mexican eatery and pigged out on some most excellonomous fajitas. The Casa Manana is an authentic Mexican restaurant run by authentic Mexicans – great food. With stomachs full we went back to the house to hang out with the dogs, watch TV, and relax. Katie, Lacey, and Spanky stayed out in the backyard while we were gone. I’ll just bet they ran around the whole time cause they were pretty well played out by the time we got back.

Many thanks to Amy and David for their hospitality. We had a great time and look forward to getting together again soon.

Next destination – Mississippi!
Spanky Sits Proudly at the Summit

I Catch Up With Spanky

USGS Summit Marker

Bluffs Surrounding Mount Magazine

A View into the Valley Below

3 comments:

Ken said...

Congratulations! I’m sure you guys had a great time. It looks beautiful. I’m glad you got to see David and Amy’s humble abode. I’m sure they enjoyed your company. I have some catching up to do so I’m off to the other posts. Keep ‘em coming.

Anonymous said...

Ly said...
Spanky is ready to be a model.I also love the idea of the people you are meeting. Photograph them as well with spanky and you. Will you be hitting the New Jersey summit at High Point? Be safe and stay warm. Remember if Spanky gets bored there is always the old laser pen light...Kalli, Kalli

Lavonne said...

Well said.

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