On a balmy December day eighteen TrailBlazers and one canine under the command of Captain Katie headed down to the Ouachitas to once again hike the first segment of the Vista Trail from Denby Bay to Tompkins Bend. Believe it or not Yours Truly gives this 5-mile hike her Foot and Knee-Friendly Rating, an award she rarely and stingily confers. It has some gentle ups and downs, very few rocks, some pine needle-padded sections, and several conveniently placed benches that we put to good use. Most of us also took the easy ¼ mile trek out to Sunset Vista and back. We were happy to welcome back Bob and Marianne. 

The Ouachitas are different from the Ozarks in that they feature lots of white quartz, many ferns, holly trees of all sizes, lots of lovely moss, and many tall pine trees, so there were interesting things to see. One jarring event of the day was an encounter with a woman with two small dogs who were dragging her down the trail. From time to time she let the two naughty Dachshunds off leash, for no good reason, and then she had to call them back using a raucous voice best-suited to a banshee or a fishmonger. If she were to "call the hogs," even feral razorbacks would run and hide! She could benefit from lessons in voice modulation, and the dogs needed a scholarship to Cesar Millan’s Doggie Boot Camp. Zack was clearly shocked at such disgraceful behavior by members of his species. 

To finish off a great day we stopped at the Mt. Ida Café to have some of their much acclaimed pie. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all – see you next year.