Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Mud

This has been a tough (so-called) spring for hiking in the SF Bay Area. While I’m very happy to have all the rain (green hillsides, spring flowers, long Sierra hiking season) it is making a mess of area trails.

Yesterday I hiked what would usually be a very civilized route at Almaden Quicksilver County Park. I started at the MacAbee Road entrance and then turned left on the fire road to get to the New Almaden Trail, which I followed to a point just past the Webb Canyon Trail. From here I continued on a short distance to catch a lateral up to the Randol Trail so that I could start heading back on the main trail along the ridge. Hoping to avoid a very muddy section near the end, I took a detour toward the Senador Mine site.

The mud situation is now well beyond inconvenient. Virtually all trails now include some sections that are almost impossible to walk across – it becomes necessary to use an alternative approach:

  • Slog slowly though sticky, sloppy, soggy clay into which you sink a half foot or so
  • More quickly, slipping and sliding from one bit of poor footing to the next, never stopping long enough to get traction or sink in.
  • Pick your way around the worst spots, using the grassy/rocky areas along the trail.

In must be noted that all of these approaches have their drawbacks, ranging from trail damage to muddy gear to danger of slipping and sliding off the trail.

On the way back to my car on yesterday’s loop hike I chose to take a different trail near the end of my route in order to avoid a particularly nasty muddy section. (This one had forced me to use the “walk next to the trail” approach.) I knew that an alternate trail would take me back without crossing this section, so I took a left turn at the appropriate place and congratulated myself as I started down a single-track path that seemed to be in quite good shape. The trail soon set me straight.

I managed to get through a first small muddy section by stepping carefully on rocks and/or the area along the side of the trail. The second section was a bit worse and I found myself “skiing” through one very slippery section – if I stopped for a second I began to slip so the only practical strategy was to keep moving.

And then… the muddy section from hell.

It must have been over 200 feet long, and there was no way around it since it was in the bottom of a ravine. I slipped, I slid, I sank, and at one point I fell over as both feet slid downhill. At each step my shoes squirted a stream of muddy water a couple of feet to the side. When I reached the bottom of this section there was mud on my shoes, pants, shirt, glasses, hands.

I think I’ll take a walk on the nice neighborhood urban paved hiking/biking trail today…

April 16, 2006 - Posted by | Commentary

2 Comments

  1. love the mud love the mud love the mud! love the mud love the mud love the mud!love the mud love the mud love the mud!love the mud love the mud love the mud!love the mud love the mud love the mud!love the mud love the mud love the mud!love the mud love the mud love the mud!love the mud love the mud love the mud!love the mud love the mud love the mud!love the mud love the mud love the mud!love the mud love the mud love the mud!love the mud love the mud love the mud!

    Comment by gambolin man | April 17, 2006

  2. uh, ok…

    Comment by Dan Mitchell | April 17, 2006


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