Seeing that winter is just about done and we did get quite a bit of snow over the last while, we could look forward to a very muddy Spring as the snow melts. Hiking in mud can be treacherous, dangerous and scary. It must be be done with caution and care. So, read on and learn how to traverse those muddy trails with confidence.
Spring hiking in Colorado Springs, or just about anywhere in Colorado, is synonymous with mud hiking. Many of us ask the question, can you hike in the mud? The answer is a resounding yes, but there are a lot of particular tips for hiking in the mud that come in handy to help any user get the most out of their time on the trail. Just because the trails are muddy doesn’t mean you have to stay at home and settle into couch life. Getting out is entirely possible! Learning how to manage mud season takes some adjustment time, but it gives you a whole new world of places to hike in the springtime. Mud season isn’t going to stop showing up, so it’s time to adapt.
Pick the right trail
The best move for hiking in the mud is to do a hefty amount of research and preparation. Some trails will stay wamps throughout mud season, and others may be in better condition than others. If you pick the right trail, you may not even encounter much mud on the hike. To pick the right trail, head online and look into certain trail conditions. Some trails will be better positioned to drain quicker or dry out faster from the sun. South-facing trails, for example, get a huge amount of sun and will be much more likely to provide a solid, less muddy, trail surface. The internet is another great resource for discovering trail conditions in the spring. Many hikers head out and report back to different social media groups, where they will describe what the trail looks like throughout the season. You’ll likely find others have gone out and checked before you have even considered going out, so use the information they’ve provided to save yourself some time.
Head out early
As the temperatures rise, ice turns to mud. If you can, getting out on the trails earlier in the morning means that the mud is likely to be a bit more firm and stable to hike on. Further on in the day, you’ll find yourself trekking through deeper and softer mud. Heading out early also gives you a jump on the crowds of people that are all trying to get outside after a long winter. Trails tend to deteriorate throughout the day as use increases. If you get out early, you’ll find the trail in the most pristine condition that it will be on that day.
Choose to get muddy
One of the best, but hardest to follow, tips for hiking in mud is to “make the trail deeper, not wider.” This concept generally means hiking straight through the mud rather than trying to walk around it off of the trail. While this is best for the trail, it’s hard to commit to getting yourself covered in mud that can often come up and over your boots. Taking care of trails often means not putting yourself first. In mud season, it means accepting the mud and owning it. You’re most likely going to get muddy anyway, so commit and get really muddy. Bring some plastic bags that you can throw your boots into when you’re finished with the hike, and the car upholstery will be grateful. Since getting muddy is just about the only option on the menu, it’s good to learn how to clean hiking boots well. Hiking in mud season means cleaning boots more often; otherwise, the mud will work its way deep into the boots and potentially ruin them. It’s a simple process but takes a bit of time to do once the hike is over.
Protect your feet
Cleaning your boots is one way of protecting your feet in the long term. It’s equally important to prepare for the hike, as it is to prepare for cleaning up after the hike. Mud is likely going to make its way to your feet. Even the most waterproof boots can struggle up against some seriously thick mud, so you need to be prepared for the likelihood of getting wet feet. In mud season, it’s necessary to bring along a couple of extra pairs of socks to throw on throughout the hike or at the end and an extra pair of clean shoes to drive home in. If the trail is completely obliterated and covered in soupy mud, bringing boot liners is a good option for protection. Boot liners are simply plastic bags that go between your boots and socks as a completely waterproof barrier. They aren’t comfortable, but they’re effective. Wet feet can be more than uncomfortable; they can be dangerous and painful if they stay wet long enough. Go prepared and knowledgeable about what to do when your feet get wet on the trail or at least have a quick exit to the car. NAC NOTE: A good pair of properly fitted gore-tex gaiters are your best defense when it comes to keeping mud and water out of your boots. Learn how to put your gaiters on properly so the form a good seal against the uppers of your boot, and step quickly through puddles and mud as to stop it from seeping through between the gaiter and boot upper.
Bring the right gear
On top of simple plastic bags, a couple of other pieces of gear will help make hiking in the mud more accessible. For starters, gaiters are a great addition to hiking in the mud and are perfect for spring hiking in muddy locations, as you may encounter some snow along the way. Gaiters are like sleeves for your ankles that strap over your boots and fasten around your calf. They function to keep anything from getting inside your boots, even when you get above the top of the boot. Gaiters will help you to keep anything from getting inside your boots, but they won’t help you when the mud makes you slide around like walking on ice. This is where a solid set of trekking poles comes in handy. Bringing trekking poles will give you a better sense of balance in the mud. You can take great care without them, but the moment your feet slip, you’ll look like a frosted chocolate cake rather than a happy hiker. Trekking poles add more contact points with the ground and improve your balance. NAC NOTE: On top of trekking poles, sometimes a solid set of micro-crampons will help as well. The numerous points on the bottom will pierce into the mud and give you much more traction. They are not perfect though, in softer soupy mud they won't have much of an affect at all.
Written by Ian Standard for Broadmoor Outfitters, published on November 15, 2021
(Sunday, March 12, 2023)
There was a minor error in last weeks Adventure Weekly. Under the Upcoming Events heading, you may have noticed 2 of the hikes were scheduled for the same date. This was just a misprint, and the dates are correct on the Events Page when you register. I cut and paste parts of this email to speed up the creation process, and had forgotten to change the date. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused, the problem has been resolved in this edition. This week brings my celebration of another year around the sun. 50 is creeping up so fast, and I am not sure how I feel about that! Truly, it doesn't bother me, as it's just a regular day, but if you'd like to come say Happy Birthday and help me celebrate this journey, come join us for some Rock Climbing at Climber's Rock in Burlington on Friday evening. I have commandeered this week's Climbing Event as to make it my Birthday Celebration with friends. So, I hope to see you there! Today is the final day to REGISTER for the WALTER'S FALLS MULTI-DAY HIKE! There are still 2 spaces remaining on the trip so act fast, as registration closes at 5:00pm!
That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club