“I need to get away from everything. It’s spring break and I just need to get away.” As I heard the words come from his mouth, I decided it was time for an adventure.”Lets do it, lets just go somewhere and wander. I need it too.”
“I dunno. We can just figure it out as we go.”
Soon we were in the truck headed to anywhere. I started googling places to hike and found a few within “day trip” distance. We decided to head to the Ponca, AR area and take the Whitaker Point trail. Neither of us had on hiking shoes or appropriate apparel, but we were just looking for a little adventure, so we had no real concern about it.
The drive seemed short as we talked about life and kids and religion and time, the conversation taking on the natural rhythm that comes from years of knowing someone. Then as we found the slow, curvy roads, we rolled the windows down to listen to the beautiful symphony of spring. There’s nothing quite like the feeling that winter is coming to an end as you hear the sound of the happy “peepers” around a pond.
We had gotten off to a bit of a late start, so by the time we hit the trail head, we were staring sunset in the face. Undaunted, we decided that we would be okay to make the short trek. We walked quickly, knowing we were limited on time and meeting several people who advised us about the waning light and the potential for danger if we continued. So, of course, we continued.
As we came around the last bend and stepped out onto the ledge, the sun dipped just below the horizon, bathing the valley below in a misty purple haze. Looking to the right, the sky boasted every shade of pink and purple, wrapping around and melting into a fiery orange with a white hot center over the trees to the left. The waxing crescent moon was visible where the colors met the deep blue, a reminder that nightfall was on it’s way. Just under the pastel sky on the right was another rock formation, monstrous boulders perched precariously, a monument to the fact that one never knows what will stand the test of time. The wind rustled through the treetops below, in perfect harmony with the water softly falling nearby and the river running somewhere far below.
Time stood still. I exhaled every worry, every fear, every thought of anything but the present. I breathed in the peace, the fresh, wild air filling me with life. There was no need for words, not here. For that brief moment, beauty was all that existed, fleeting as it was.
Then reality set in. We took a few photos and enjoyed the lingering moment, knowing it would come to an end far too soon. The sun was sinking lower now, almost completely hidden behind the rocks. The colors were fading to that deep, cerulean blue that turns everything into black silhouettes. There were a few stars beginning to peek out as the curtains of nightfall closed in.
“I suppose we should chase the sun.”
“I suppose so.”
We began the trek back down to the trail head, knowing there was no way to beat the darkness. We walked as quickly as we could, silently, focused on getting back before we could no longer see.
Dark closed in quickly though, and soon we found ourselves stumbling over the rocks to the meager light of his cell phone and the twinkle of the stars above.
Thankful for a clear night, I kept glancing through the trees to catch a glimpse of the dark side of beauty. At one point, the branches framed the moon so perfectly that, had I not already been out of breath from our hurried pace, it would have taken my breath away.
I knew that with my heart rate and circulatory issues, staying out all night would not be an option, although it seemed like it should be when we lost the trail. He grew more concerned, especially as the temperature began to drop and his cell flashed low battery.
We continued to trudge on, using the direction of the moon to guess where we were headed when the trail disappeared. I knew we weren’t too far out now, so I asked to slow down.
When we finally saw the sign for the trail, we both breathed a sigh of relief. We had made it.
We took some time to enjoy the stars, naming constellations and basking in the overwhelming number that could be seen. The wind had picked back up at this point and the dropping temperature drove us back into the truck. We said our farewells to the wild and took off toward the city lights.
I truly believe those unexpected moments always turn into the most incredible memories and I’m so grateful I had this beautiful, wild weekend. I needed to feel my soul, alive and vibrant and present. And that is exactly what happened.
Thank you for all your years of friendship, my dear, and thank you so much for the memories!