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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 part 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 10 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 slew 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.

• • •

David Wilson, Ed.D., of Springdale, is a former high school principal and is the communications director for the Transit and Parking Department at the University of Arkansas. His book, "Learning Every Day," is available on Amazon. He may be contacted by email at Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 03/14/2018

Print Headline: Weekend outing is chance to connect with nature

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