Methods for Maneuvering Through Spring Mud, Vol. 1

Elaine expertly moves through the mud on Sun Prairie North.
My fellow Landmark crew member, Elaine, expertly moves through the mud on Sun Prairie North. (Photo by Tim Brtis)

By Tim Brtis

There is more to walking through mud than just moving each leg in turn.

During my time working with Adventures and Scientists for Conservation’s Landmark project to survey wildlife on the American Prairie Reserve, I’ve learned that proper technique can be the difference between voyaging through the mud at a swift 1.2 mph and struggling in one spot for 15 minutes. Becoming stuck can drain valuable energy, and if freedom isn’t regained you might run the risk of attracting a hungry, circling turkey vulture.

I hereby propose the compilation of an academically thorough guide to mud maneuvering.

I will begin the effort by sharing the knowledge a coworker and I have compiled here. However, because I don’t possess every stratagem related to mud walking, I plan to consult experts from around the world for future volumes.

Lesson 1: Techniques for Efficient Movement
It’s best to avoid becoming stuck. Maintaining your liberty may require one or more of the following techniques.

The Pointed-Foot Technique
While trudging through an increasingly mucky area, I could feel the ground playfully tugging at my feet with each step. Eventually, the mud got greedy and did not let go. With my next step denied, I was pulled back to the gluttonous ground, which then took my second foot.

“Walk on the balls of your feet, and you don’t stick as much!” Elaine called over to me. I tried walking in place using this technique and was promptly liberated.

Walking on the balls of your feet keeps your heels from planting in the mud, thereby preventing suction from forming between the mud and the bottom of your boots. Science.

The Don’t-Slow-Down Method
While venturing further into that same mud field, I found that if I stopped —> Read More