Hiking in Mud Season
I looked down and smiled as my boot squished into the spongy brown mud. With the cold
weather and slippery trails behind me for this season, I was free to roam the woods for the next
Photo credit: Leslie Lello Photography
Many people groan at the upcoming mud season, reminiscing about former years when perhaps
they had to push their car out of a slippery mess or have ruined a nice pair of hiking shoes
getting them irreparably caked in brown goo.
Despite having my own similar experiences with mud season, I still look forward to it because I
consider it the best time to go hiking and explore Southern Vermont. Here is why:
1. Cure for Cabin Fever
The 2015/2016 ski season offered us +50 degree days in February, so cabin fever was not as
severe this year for many people. Still, the warm weather also prevented us from playing in the snow as
much as we wanted and held us inside on chilly rain days.
Now that spring has truly sprung, we can emerge from our caves and enjoy the outdoors that
we have been missing for several months.
2. Comfortable Weather
Many people love summer hiking but there is something to be said for those brisk days when
you start off needing a jacket but then 20 minutes into your walk you peel it off because the
vigorous hike is making you sweat.
It is one of my favorite sensations, actually. And it makes for outdoor activities that can be
sustained comfortably for longer amounts of time and for me not requiring a shower afterwards.
3. No Bugs
When you venture out during mud season, you may see a few flies, but that's about it. I am not
squeamish about bugs, but when I am trying to hike and get swarmed by 1001 gnats flying into
my ears and eyes, I am not enjoying myself.
Also, despite showering in bug spray and bug repellent essential oils, I still manage to end a day
outdoors in the summertime with a bug bite or two.
4. No Scary Leaves
When I am hiking, my ankles constantly seem to brush against a patch of overgrown forest
branches. In the summer, when I turn to see what I bumped into, is usually is a mix of leaves
with some poison ivy in the middle. Great. Well, if I have itchy bumps on my legs in two hours, I
know what I touched!
During mud season, I do not have to worry about this. The poison oak and poison ivy have not
overrun the forest yet and I am free to wander about hugging trees and going deeper into the
forest terrain than I normally would explore. For me, this is the divine. I can frolic in the forest
wherever my curiosity draws me.
Photo credit: Leslie Lello Photography
5. Dog Friendly
While I place each forest step consciously in order to avoid poison ivy and other hiking hazards, my happygolucky pooch could care less that he just walked through a patch of poison ivy to
get a drink in the creek.
In the summer months, my hikes usually involve me keeping a keen eye on my dog and
constantly saying, "No", "Danger", "Leave it", and "Come" to my dog, but in mud season, I can
let him enjoy the landscape with a lot more freedom.
I can also relax a bit more during my walks knowing that the hazards are minimal for my dog
and I won't be pulling ticks off of him at the end of the day, or driving him to the emergency
room because of a bee sting... At least not for a few more months.
I also don't have to worry about him overheating like I do in July.
Springtime in Southern Vermont
Southern Vermont is the place to be during mud season!
That sound silly, right?
Think about it, though. Aside from the muddy driving, Southern Vermont offers a long and
comfortable spring season for outdoor activities.
Additionally, you can just stop into the Chamber of Commerce to pick up a map listing several
hikes in the area, ranging from an easy 1/2 mile on the Toot and Whistle, to a vigorous 5mile
trail near Lake Raponda.
To check out the PDF online, go to: Wilmington Trail Map
You should also check with the National Forest Service and the State Forest Service because
some trails are closed during this season because muddy foot traffic can cause erosion on
some trails, but if you are in the Deerfield Valley in springtime there will always be a trail open to
you to go explore.
National Forest Service Website
State Forest Service Website
Leslie Lello is a photographer, documentary director, writer and photojournalist living in the Southern Vermont.
Some of her clients include ZocDoc.com, Party Earth, Portrait Simple and North Jersey Media Group.
She splits her time between the New York Metropolitan area and Southern Vermont.
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