In February of 2016 I went for a hike on Pinnacle Mountain in Little Rock with my dear friend Cindy. That day was notable for different reasons. The first exciting thing was that Cindy was in town. Cindy lives in Pennsylvania. She and I “met” via the interwebs more than a decade ago. We used to be members of the now defunct Xanga blogging community. If you are feeling sad you did not know I had a blog back then, don’t worry. I had a really adorable baby boy almost every other year and I really liked coffee. That pretty much sums it up.
Cindy and I had met in person on a couple occasions prior to her coming to Arkansas in 2016. A pretty tight-knit group of friends had been forged in the Xanga days that led to lifelong friendships not just between us gals, but even our families. We even vacationed together! The fact that Cindy was flying out to just to hang over the weekend with us was just a bonus spot of joy in an otherwise uneventful winter. It was a coincidence she would be witness to one of the weirdest displays of college sportsmanship rivalry I had ever been a part of.
Speaking of college sportsmanship, it should come as no surprise that I’m a Razorback fan. This should clue you in to a couple of important pieces of information. Razorback fans, the true ones, we have a loyalty that defies reason and logic. We know how to take a minute success and really make it LAST. We have lived through disappointment and heartache and I’m not even talking about the playing of ball, that’s just with the coaches. We have no tolerance for fair-weather fans who talk of not watching anymore when we are on a losing streak that’s 3 years long. True fans have no time for the likes of those guys. We wear our Hog gear with pride no matter how the season is going. Every fall we wait with eager anticipation for the season, truly believing this year could be THE year.
But back to the hike . . . It’s important to note that I have taken people from out of state to hike Pinnacle Mt. on several occasions. It’s not as high as Mt. Magazine, the highest point in Arkansas, but it’s within a short driving distance from my home. The views are amazing, and you don’t lose more than half a day if you’re pressed for time. Experienced hikers will tell you it is not the most difficult of hikes. However, it has been more challenging for me since my thyroid came out in 2014. I frequently take many short breaks during the hike. Every time I complete it, though, I feel a tiny tad of triumph that my former illness isn’t keeping me down.
As Cindy and I set out that morning, we dressed in layers. It was February, after all. I donned my vintage Arkansas Razorbacks hoodie for good vibes. Cindy wore a gray hoodie that bore no team loyalty. I forgave her for that since she was a good friend. We packed some water and snacks in the only bag we had laying around of appropriate size, a small Buzz Lightyear backpack that one of the boys had used at preschool. We made the 30-minute drive to the parking area at the base of the mountain and set out for a morning of adventure.
We began the incline, and all was going well. I took several stops on the way up to catch my breath. The trail upward was by turns surrounded by trees, and very near sharp drop offs. We saw very few people that morning. February was not a peak hiking month in Arkansas. The weather could either be just a little cold, or by turns icy and treacherous. I didn’t have a smart watch back then, so I had no way of arbitrarily knowing what my heartrate was or how many steps I had taken thus far. We talked and laughed and reveled in the rare and precious in-person friend time we had been granted. During our breaks we feasted on the snacks we had packed, which included one of both of our favorites, Airheads Xtreme Rainbow Berry candy. As you can see, we were experts on hiking.
When we finally crested the top of the mountain, the view did not disappoint. We stood there for a moment, speechless at the amazing sight in front of us. Miles of Arkansas stretched out around us. It was a sea of winter barren trees, with the river winding through it. We looked slowly from side to side, taking in the beauty. As my head swung left, that was when I saw him. He was standing there, happy as a clam, just taking in the view like he had a right to be there.
At first, he just looked like a regular guy but as he turned and the light bounced off his shirt, I realized what was emblazoned all over it. The purple almost made me sick. My eyes began to water. Some might have said it was the cold wind at the top of the mountain, but I knew better. The bright yellow LSU was printed on the purple, covering the garment in a pattern that was surely the culprit.
He turned to catch my stare, his gaze straying to catch the Arkansas Razorbacks printed across my hoodie. I threw my hands in the air gesturing somewhat wildly at his shirt, with an incredulous look across my face. We both made a sound that some might have called a chuckle but was surely the growls of opposing team spirits.
“How can you live with yourself?” I asked him. “I’m not from here, just visiting family in Little Rock” he explained. “And they just let you wear that get up anywhere you want to go?” I questioned him. Off to the side I heard Cindy chuckling to herself. It was mostly likely chuckling, as she seemed to have no team sprit to issue growls. The interloper went on to talk about his family, unaffected by his own incongruity. He even offered to take our photo for us. Wrong team or not, we could not pass that up. I am sure it would have been a magnificent photo, had an Arkansas fan photographed it.
As we parted ways, it probably looked like we were smiling and laughing, but I’m sure we were seething on the inside. I am certain he was casting some sort of hex on us. Something like “May your team have three consecutive years of no wins in SEC games” or something like that. No one will ever convince me otherwise. It was disgusting!
Cindy and I eventually began our descent down the mountain, carefully navigating the trail. I might not have been navigating as carefully as I initially planned. One minute I was tootling along, a couple yards ahead of her and the next moment I was down. My body was rolling and rolling, the sharp drop off fast approaching. All I could think was “Why am I not stopping?” There wasn’t even time to panic. Once the interminable rolling came to an end, I gingerly sat up. Everything hurt.
I looked back to see Cindy hurrying towards me. Her face was a display with two different reactions warring for supremacy. She seemed both shocked and on the verge of laughter. Indeed, she laughed somewhat as she asked, “Oh my gosh are you okay?” Her body echoed the sentiment, one hand on her chest as one does when they are shocked and the other hand covering her mouth, trying unsuccessfully to hold in the laugh.
I gingerly stood up. I must have fallen on my left side, as that side held the most ache. I ended up with a large bruise on my hip and a broken middle finger on my left hand. If you’re wondering, no one does anything for that kind of broken finger. It’s simply taped to the next finger and then you go on about your life for a couple weeks looking like an idiot with two fingers taped together. It’s fabulous.
In the rush of going down the hill I forgot about LSU man for a while. I wonder in retrospect if his amiable curse included me and not just the ball team. Either way, my fall injuries are long healed. I have since hiked Pinnacle several times with no more injuries to speak of. Yesterday, our beloved Hogs broke the three-year SEC conference losing streak. The unlikely curse has been lifted.
If you hike Pinnacle anytime soon, beware of strangers in LSU gear. They are likely as awful as they seem!