It was a third date to remember. Razorback football, golf and getting chased by a bear on a section of the Ozark Highlands Trail.
At one point during the chase, Anne Woker looked back at Dodson Christian and thought, darn, she really would have enjoyed going out with him. But surely he was going to be eaten.
But Christian and Woker both survived to tell the tale of their Sunday afternoon hike on the trail, at the entry near Cass. Christian said Woker told it best, so The Observer called her.
“It was a relaxing weekend,” she said. But they decided on their way back to Little Rock, where both live and work, from Fayetteville to hike a little on Section 3 of the trail.
First there were spiders. Black spiders, and their webs crisscrossed the trail. Then, Christian looked up and pointed to a black bear.
It was about 150 yards away, across a ravine and uphill from them. A good distance, they thought. Woker pulled out her camera and took the bear’s picture with a telephoto lens. As she put the camera back in the bag she said she heard Christian say, quite calmly, “Anne, he’s coming down the hill.” And indeed he was (the gender’s a guess here, but the bear was big). “They really don’t look like they can barrel down on you,” Woker said. But they really can, and before they knew it, he was down his ravine and up their hill. They kept walking, wondering if he was coming for them. And there he was behind them, about 15 yards back, following their winding trail. They’d peek after a curve and poke their heads back. Then Christian told Woker to keep walking, not running, ahead; he was going to stay behind. She heard Christian’s stern voice addressing the bear. “No!”
“The bear was big and scary but, dang, if Dodson didn’t at that moment look even meaner,” Woker later e-mailed her friends. Talking the way you would to a dog.
The two kept walking, but the bear kept coming, though he fell back a bit. For 20 minutes they hiked and looked back over their shoulders. The trail was difficult, it was hot and Woker said she began to worry, “How long can I do this?” Finally, 15 minutes passed with no sound of the bear. It seemed to have given up.
Woker, however, was in no mood to keep going to the next trailhead. When Christian told her he knew there was a forest service road straight up the hill from them, she said let’s go for it. They climbed up and out to safety, walked to a county road and stopped at a house, where Woker said they met a “grandfather” with a moose gun — a .444 Marlin — who accompanied Christian back to the trail to retrieve his backpack and car keys.
The two can be forgiven for the stop they made at the nearest purveyor of ice to make what Woker called “a real tall one,” with vodka.
“I’ve never been with a man who saved my life,” Woker mused.
Woker’s lifesaving suggestion for others: Keep your heads up when you hike the Ozark Highlands trail, don’t run, and sometimes, a stern “No!” works.
I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
The Observer's boss, Uncle Alan, is something of a gentleman farmer on his spread up in Cabot, growing heirloom tomatoes and watermelons and crops of chiggers on property that looks like the perfect farmstead Lenny and George often fantasized about in "Of Mice and Men."
The Observer is an advocate of the A+ method of integrating the arts and using creativity to teach across the curriculum, an approach that the Thea Foundation, with help from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, is offering to schools across the state.
When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
When completed, the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol lawn will be the exact size, shape and weight of the vaguely humming black monolith that appeared at the foot of Conway Sen. Jason Rapert's bed in June 2010 and later elevated his consciousness from apelike semi-sentience to incrementally less apelike semi-sentience.
No more clinging to material things, unless those material things are life preservers tossed as I go down for the third and final time, the few remaining strands of my once-majestic locks, or the skids of the last helicopter out before the fall of Little Rock.