I glance at my lonely snowboard in a dusty corner of my room, and yearn for some late spring pow. Although not ready to admit it, I know I'll be lucky if I have even a few more days of boarding left. That's right... even I'm catching the mud season blues. But as the snow melts the rivers rise, and I remember how spectacular spring is for whitewater. Kayakers, canoers, stand-up paddleboarders, rafters, and river-surfers, OUR TIME HAS COME! Hang up the snow boots and unpack the river booties, because this spring is going to be a good one.
Okay... so you're no river rat, and your family isn't ready for a whitewater rafting adventure. My coastal friends can take up a new found craze such as SUPing (stand-up paddleboarding) or kite-boarding. Both of these sports have achieved rapidly growing recognition and popularity in the past few years. Are you stuck too far inland? Climbing is the perfect spring activity. It can be difficult when it rains, making indoor climbing gyms handy to have nearby. But for most of the season, you can find a nice, sunny (usually south-facing) rockface and go to town! If you are new to climbing, just bring a friend that can show you the ropes-- excuse the pun-- and choose a location with bolted top rope routes.
Still not convinced to take up a new sport this spring? Hiking and biking are always excellent activities while days are still the cooler side. Pack up some water and an extra layer or two, and you're set for a day of adventuring. If you want an added challenge, turn your normal day of hiking into a geocaching extravaganza. If you have no clue what geocaching is, read my January article "New Year, New Adventures."
This mud season you may find yourself slipping and sliding down to the river's put-in, rock-hopping up to the perfect climbing spot, or exploring some nearby hiking and biking trails. If your adventuring takes you to any of these places, there are a few important things of which to remain conscious. Earth and vegetation are VERY vulnerable during mud season, so be careful where you step. Melting snow causes higher elevations to stay wet and muddy longer. Hikers trampling on saturated soil will cause irreversible soil erosion. This also compacts soil, often killing roots of nearby vegetation. In order to keep our local trails healthy and beautiful, you can take the following precautions:
Choose hiking and biking paths of a lower elevation, as these tend to dry out quicker. If a trail looks continuously muddy, turn back and find a drier trail to hike.
Tread on the center of paths where nothing is growing. If you hit a few muddy patches, walk through the middle of them rather then through the vegetation on the sides of the path. That's what hiking boots are for!
Please respect closed trails! If a trail is washed out, just avoid it until a drier day for the sake of plant life and yourself.
Mud season can definitely be a downer for outdoor enthusiasts. Just remember to look at the positives-- this is a great time to sign up for some yoga classes, or join an indoor climbing gym. The river's are raging, and summer is just around the corner, so cheer up! Get all your camping checklists together and start calling up your hiking buddies, because it will be sunny again before you know it! As always, remember to never stop moving!
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