A Hike To Re­mem­ber

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - OPINION - David Wil­son Learn­ing Ev­ery Day

Hik­ing on Arkansas trails can be a won­der­ful chance to con­nect with na­ture, but not af­ter days of rain have washed the en­joy­ment right out of the ex­pe­ri­ence.

That was the con­sen­sus four of us reached on the week­end of Feb. 23-25 at Lake Fort Smith State Park.

Plans were to en­joy an ex­ten­sive Satur­day hike on that week­end and we had se­cured a cabin in the park as our base of oper­a­tions.

It had rained all week and it con­tin­ued to pour down as we ar­rived there on Fri­day night.

But we weren’t dis­cour­aged.

There was no way we were go­ing into the woods to wade through an­kle-deep mud or to ford rag­ing cur­rents that usu­ally didn’t even ex­ist on the trail.

But dis­cour­aged? No way. Noth­ing stopped us from mak­ing the best of things for the week­end.

The cabin had plenty of room, a nice fire­place, and a good tele­vi­sion in case we wanted to watch the Ra­zor­backs take on Alabama in bas­ket­ball (which we did).

There were Fri­day night steaks on the grill (with one of us cook­ing and one hold­ing the um­brella) and later dur­ing the evening there were card games, lis­ten­ing to old mu­sic, and talk­ing about old times.

The rain raged out­side, but old mem­o­ries were res­ur­rected near the warmth of the fire.

On Satur­day morn­ing, with the rain still com­ing down, we ven­tured north on U.S. High­way 71 to Grandma’s House Café near Winslow, and helped our­selves to a hearty break­fast.

And so the week­end went. No trails to hike. No wor­ries.

The four of us who met for the week­end are a part of a larger group of sev­eral guys who grew up to­gether in North­east Arkansas in the 1970s.

We were all of the Corn­ing High School class of 1980, and we are very for­tu­nate to con­tinue our child­hood friend­ships to this very day.

Ron­nie is a re­tired ed­u­ca­tor who lives in Rogers. Floyd works at Tyson and lives in Spring­dale. Ge­orge is an edi­tor in Lit­tle Rock.

We never run out of things to talk about when we get to­gether, and the week­end of Feb. 23-25 was no ex­cep­tion.

We talked about the great Arkansas out­doors and grow­ing up in the great state of Arkansas and fol­low­ing the great Arkansas Ra­zor­backs.

We each charted our own path­way in life, but we all came from the same place, with the same solid foun­da­tion for life, hav­ing de­vel­oped many of the same small-town val­ues.

We shared the same play­ground in el­e­men­tary school, used the same streets as we ped­aled our bikes all over town, played in the same Lit­tle League, and had the same teach­ers in ju­nior high and high school.

There were al­ways two, three, six, eight, or one of us in con­tact as we grew up.

We had no in­ter­net, and video games were in their em­bry­onic stage, even as we were com­plet­ing high school. But some­how we al­ways, al­ways, al­ways found plenty to do.

Af­ter our high school grad­u­a­tion we went off in all direc­tions—most of us started col­lege—and af­ter that we ven­tured into big­ger things.

We started ca­reers, started fam­i­lies, tried to be good dads, and slayed what­ever dragons threat­ened to block our path­way on life’s quest.

And when our chil­dren ei­ther took off for col­lege or hit adult­hood or both, then life started to slow down just a lit­tle, and the slower pace has al­lowed us to re­con­nect.

It didn’t just hap­pen by chance though. We took steps to stay in touch and to plan an oc­ca­sional ad­ven­ture.

None of us are an­cient with one foot in the grave, and none of us have ob­tained a mo­nop­oly on all of life’s wis­dom.

But we have reached a point where we have be­gun to fig­ure out what life is all about. We cover that—along with many other top­ics— when­ever we get to­gether.

And as we laugh and rem­i­nisce we might oc­ca­sion­ally say some­thing that sounds like our par­ents or teach­ers.

I guess grow­ing old is in­evitable. But los­ing touch with old friends is not.

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