Yes, it is around the corner. The annual “mountain” climbing adventure in Duck Hill, MS, is under a month away from happening. Exciting news for all of you busy folks who roll in for this event from near and far, climb organizers Larry Laster and Nanette Laster are offering climbs on back-to-back weekends: Saturday, February 1, 2020 at 10:00am AND again at 2:00pm. THEN, yet a third opportunity is available on Saturday, February 8, at 10:00am.
Arnold Dyre’s writings, about seeing Duck Hill Mountain as a boy and many times as he traveled on Highway 51, inspired Nanette Laster to initiate the concept of a yearly climb. Like any good sister, she called in her brother Larry for help in carrying out the work it took to get this event off the ground. It is my understanding that Larry is the muscle behind all the clearing of trails. He also takes the lead with assuring that the climb runs smoothly. In short, the Lasters have created a wonderful opportunity for bringing folks together with no pressure, no competition, just a fun, safe time, filled with people who value community, family and the simple treasures of our good earth.
From the gathering that takes place at the old Duck Hill School, and the car trek to the base of the famed Duck Hill Mountain, to the cattle-gate that may or may not be opened, and the cow-patties that require careful footwork until you actually start the climb, to the option of taking the “easy” route versus Larry Laster’s special straight-up-the-mountain version, everyone knows they are in for a good time.
In between many huffing and puffing for breath, others steadily pushing upward, sometimes with a climbing cane, sometimes just grabbing the nearest tree, the gentle remnants of the Appalachian Mountain spine start to show on this rather impressive hill that has been dubbed a mountain by many. When we reach the top, pictures are taken with friends and with new acquaintances who will eventually become your friends. Many are trying to forget about the fact that they still have to get back down. Others are trying not to get conned into going “down” via the Larry Laster “take a step or two, then slide, then repeat process” special.
I climb Duck Hill Mountain in memory of my brother Arnold Douglas Dyre (October 31, 1945-June 12, 2017). I know many of you are also honor him with this annual ritual. In the months after Arnold’s death, I was first encouraged to take the hike by my brother’s friend Dave Hovey, who apparently had the time of his life “chewing the fat” with Arnold as they made their way up and down back in 2017, just months before Arnold’s death. At the 2019 climb, Dave was battling cancer and simply could not expend the energy. In October 2019, Dave Hovey died. I never had the privilege of climbing with Mr. Hovey. This year, I will honor both my brother and Mr. Dave Hovey.
I hope to see all who made last year’s climb. It will indeed be nice to have new folks join our ranks. Special memories of special people in our lives are guaranteed to be thick and sweet as molasses on the top of Duck Hill Mountain. Please, know you are welcome to hike in honor of one of your family members.
Stay in touch and updated through the Facebook site: Annual Duck Hill Mountain Climb, maintained by the people in the know, Larry Laster and Nanette Laster. If you and yours decide to honor a family member during one of the climbs, please let me know. I will continue to share the latest on my FB and blog with the Duck Hill Mountain Community of Climbers.
Previously published in the Grenada Star and Coffeeville Courier
DUCK HILL MOUNTAIN CLIMB: WALK IN HIS MEMORY
Arnold Douglas Dyre October 31, 1945-June 12, 2017