Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mount Magazine (Arkansas Highpoint)

7 hours after heading down from Taum Sauk Mountain (Missouri), I arrived at the Arkansas State Park which Mount Magazine calls home.  Other than a speeding stop near Pocahontas, AK (got a warning... phew!), the drive over was pretty uneventful.  I did briefly question my wisdom in driving as far south as Little Rock (within 20 miles) when I needed to be at the Omaha airport in about 24 hours but it was too late for backing out!

This was my first time in the Ozarks and I left impressed.  The mountains and surrounding valleys were beautiful.  They reminded me of the Appalachians to the east.  Although I didn't stick around long (just a couple of hours), I did develop a respect for the area.  I arrived at the trailhead at 4:30 and 30 min later was back in my car and on the road.  Within the hour it was dark and I was back on the freeways working my way back to Omaha!

Taum Sauk Mountain (Missouri Highpoint)

Friday morning started out with me in a suit meeting the Oracle of Omaha (Warren Buffett) and ended with me flying down the freeways between Omaha and Kansas City and then Kansas City and St. Louis.  I left Omaha around 6:00pm and drove all night while taking a few naps in rest stops along the way.  I took my last nap at a gas station in Ironton, MO and woke up at 7:30 ready to go.

(Room for the night)

I hadn't counted on so much snow in Omaha and the theme continued as I drove to the Ozark plateau that spreads into Missouri.  As I got to the last stretch of road leading to Taum Sauk State Park, I realized the last two miles of the road wasn't maintained.... the result was 8-10 inches of snow on the road with the exception of a single set of tracks in the snow made my someone before the most recent snowfall.  I was in a rented Chevy Impala and pretty much knew my car was woefully underprepared for the conditions but was willing to take the risk.  I had a cell phone and, afterall, I had come all this way and didn't really want to leave without bagging the highpoint.  So, I plowed into the snowy road doing my best to follow the one set of tracks there.

(Would you drive down this in a Chevy Impala?)

Things went well.... ALMOST the whole way!  There was one incline I got stuck on but I just threw it in reverse, then picked up more speed and tried again.  Repeat and I was up in a few min.  Then with about 100 yards to go, I got stuck in a drift that apparently was on ice even though I was in the middle of the road.  Now I was 2 miles from where the unmaintained road began and about 1/2 mile from the trailhead.  I had a strong cell signal and knew I would be able to call out when I got back so I went after the highpoint.

Although I didn't bring good footwear, reaching the trailhead and highpoint were pretty straightforward.  The recent snowfall really made the whole thing pretty amazing.

 (The actual highpoint)

Once I got back to the car, I continue to try and get unstuck eventually drifting the car to the side of the road.  Time to call for help.  After a call to 411 and a few locals, Jim Randolph showed up to help.  It ended up being tougher than it looked to get out but we were eventually successful.  He charged me $45... I gave him $50 (cheap tow, right?).

Off to Arkansas!