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Ascent of Magazine Mountain on 2010-10-06

Climber: John Hasch

Date:Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Magazine Mountain
    Location:USA-Arkansas
    Elevation:2753 ft / 839 m

Ascent Trip Report

StHP – LOGAN COUNTY, ARKANSAS
2753 ft.
Signal Hill, atop Mount Magazine

Wednesday, 10/6/2010

I was finished with Cherokee County, OK with a couple hours of daylight left. I had notes for nearby Sequoyah County, OK. But I decided to make my next stop the AR state HP, Logan County’s Mount Magazine. In retrospect, it would have been a better decision to do Sequoyah County first. The notes and route maps showed a fairly easy, routine approach through about 1/4mi of woods for the worst case and an easy hike though open fields along a farm road for the best case. But Sequoyah will have to wait for another future trip.

I thought that if I could finish Mount Magazine tonight, I could call Roy Wallen to see if it was possible to drive forward and meet him to hike together tomorrow. I knew it would be a rush to get there in time to ascend the hill. But you don’t know unless you try. I made my way back to Sallisaw, OK and got on the interstate to head east.

I made good time until I got to Fort Smith, AR where I left the interstate. I made a quick stop for gas and refreshment. Now traveling during the rush hours, I was in heavy congestion for the next several miles. I thought I could have ridden a bicycle faster. The slow travel continued until I got past Fort Chaffee. It’s not every day that you see a military tank being trucked down the highway, but there it was. Finally, we cleared the congestion and made pretty good time to Paris, AR.

You’ll need an international passport to reach Mount Magazine. The options are to pass through Paris if you make a northern approach to the mountain, or you will drive through Havana if you arrive from the south. I was closer to Paris, so I got out my French dictionary and plugged along toward my destination. From Paris, it was just up the mountain on Hwy 309 until I reached Mount Magazine State Park and the Lodge Road.

I drove to the lodge area, looking for the couple of trailheads. Not seeing them for sure, I stopped at the lodge and picked up a map of the park. I was also told where to find the trailheads. But the sun was rapidly setting. It was still daylight, but I knew I could not make the summit before sundown. I asked if the summit and trail were lit. I was told no to both questions, so I pondered using flashlights to get to the top. Finally, I resigned myself to saving the ascent for tomorrow. I did not want to rush the moment and hike in the dark just for the sake of getting the job done today. I would do the hike first thing tomorrow, refreshed and in daylight.

The next question was lodging for the evening. Options were to inquire at the lodge for a vacancy, drive down the mountain to some reasonable camping spot, or try to camp in the park itself. I decided to use the latter solution, having convinced myself that I was already here. Why drive down the mountain only to return tomorrow for the few minutes it would take to complete the ascent of Signal Hill? I drove around and finally found a reasonable, low-lit place in a remoter portion of the lodge parking lot. I parked directly under a street lamp, knowing that the cap on the back of my truck would block and deflect the rays and keep me relatively dark inside. It was early, with the sun having just set. But the bone-jarring of Poteau Mountain and the 6+ mile hike of Beaver Mountain had left my body pretty whipped. I would either fall asleep early or I would at least enjoy just lying there and letting my weary body recover. I felt the same way for my truck, thankful that it had survived the rigors of the early morning.

I was up as the sun was rising, having stayed overnight without question or the known attention of others. I readied myself for a new day. I walked down to the railings near the lodge and looked down into the Petit Jean Valley below. The valley was mostly covered by a thick fog-like cloud that had not yet lifted. Then I drove the truck to a new location. I parked it near the lodge front door to check out the gift shop and lodge restaurant.

After stopping in the gift shop to pick up a few gifts, I made my way to the restaurant on the lower level. The restaurant was open, but I was the first diner to begin the day’s business. I was seated next to large windows that had a view of the same valley I had just gazed upon moments earlier. I had a most rewarding breakfast. I believe it was called the Top of the Mountain. It had a little bit of everything – 2 eggs, choice of meat, potatoes, biscuits and gravy, and toast. I ordered ham as my meat and added some milk. Oh, did I say that every breakfast includes a large pancake? I chose blueberry.

I dined at a leisurely pace, and it was great! When they brought me the ham, it was large and thick and baked oh so just right! I could have made a meal on the ham by itself, and I savored every bite of this culinary delight. The pancake had blueberries the size of marbles, and they were quite juicy. And everything else made this a very affordable meal for about $10.00 before tip.

After breakfast, I walked back to my truck. I left it parked at the lodge, so this was my trailhead for the climb of Mount Magazine. I hiked to the actual trailhead less than 1/4mi away. I made the easy hike up the hill, and I eventually came upon the summit area. Whereas some other state HPs have struck me with their smallness, the stone map of Arkansas actually overwhelmed me and my camera. I was unable to stand on the visitors’ bench and get the entire stone layout in one shot. It was too big for my lens. So I did the best I could. I especially like the artfulness of putting the HP BM within the Arkansas stonework right where Mount Magazine would lie within the state. That was a nice touch.

While I was on top, I was joined by another couple who made the hike not far behind me. As best as I can recall, this was the first time I have shared a state HP summit area with any other hikers. A benefit of this joint ascent was that I was able to snap pictures of them with their camera, and they did the same for me with mine. After a few minutes, we all left the summit area and returned uneventfully down the mountain.

After I drove away from the lodge, I stopped at the Visitors’ Center that was located in another building farther down the Lodge Road. I was told at the lodge that they had a different assortment of items for sale. One of the items I found there was a plastic-encased replica of the BM that sits atop Signal Hill. This circular bronze medallion, about 2 - 2.5inches in diameter, had the BM replica on one side and Mount Magazine S.P. info on the other side. I purchased one of these unique souvenirs to add to my lapel pin and medallion collection. I was then back in my truck to journey to my next HP, Petit Jean Mountain on the other side of the valley. HP trip statistics: Time = about 40 min for the round trip including time spent on the summit; Distance = approx 1.67mi from the lodge and back; Elevation gain = 785ft total gain, including 609ft for the basic gain from TH to summit and 176ft of extra elevation gains.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:186 ft / 56 m
    Extra Gain:9 ft / 2 m
    Distance:1.7 mi / 2.7 km
    Route:Regular trail from regular trailhead
    Trailhead:Truck parked near Lodge Front Door  2585 ft / 787 m
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:20 Minutes



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