Friday, January 6, 2017

When mud is in the name

I really like hiking in places that are close to home. Mud Springs (in southwest Colorado) doesn’t look like much when you get to the trailhead. But the parking lot is big and the road there is paved so I can get there in my little car while the high country is covered in snow.
View from the parking area makes it look flat and boring.
The map is intriguing though. It has these areas that are shaded in that say “Free travel play areas”. Which sounded pretty exciting. Like maybe there would be rope swings.

Those of you familiar with ATVs and rock crawlers probably know where this is going. But as an ever-hopeful hiker that sometimes takes thing too literally and tends to not know a lot about motorized things, I made a beeline to find out what the "play areas" would hold.
Trailhead map
"Free Travel Play Areas"
A road begins from the trailhead. Muddy this time of year. Mud is in the name though, right? At least it’s honest.
Walking in the snowy part of the road
Turning down the muddy trail. Can't avoid it now.
Views into McElmo Canyon and far away to Mesa Verde.

After crossing the canyon, climbing up to the rim with a nice view of Sleeping Ute Mountain.

I head off trail and find some graffiti from 1923. Which makes it a historic inscription.
A cool tree. No rope swing here either though.
The mud is so slippery it’s hard to stay upright. Feet seem to slide in all directions, except forward. Each step is a challenge. Maybe this sliding around is really playing in the mud. Which is alright.
Techniques for hiking in mud vary. One main thing is not tiptoeing around the edges— that just widens the trail. Better to plow right into the middle of things. Embrace it. Become one with it.
When I finally get near one of the "play areas" there is some of this. And also a lot of ATV tracks. Still, it's nice to just wander around and see what there is to find.
Did I cover all the ground? This helped me keep track. Sort of fun.
More information
BLM's Mud Springs


  1. I like your new colorful tracker. What app?

    I learned a new word last spring. When I arrived in Pinedale, they told me it was mud season. Most trails are unhikeable and roads closed due to damage that would be caused. In fact I found several roads closed at my nearby NRA this winter. They said they close after heavy rains to protect from user damage.

    I seem to recall some trails we've shared where we carried a few pounds of mud on our shoes. Definitely a whole lot of Type II fun.

  2. The tracker app is Runkeeper, the free version. The colors are speed so you can tell where I stopped and poked around.

    Mud season- yes! That's a thing in Colorado. Don't think it's suppose to start until spring but we've had so much freezing and thawing. Yes, it's definitely important to avoid some places to prevent user damage of trails. I've been trying to go out early in the morning before it gets above freezing.