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Enjoying Mud Season

Mud - it's one of the underrated glories of spring. As the ice and snow melt, before the grass has a chance to grow, dirt binds with water to create one of the best elements for outdoor play.

But what's that you say? You say you've never had fun in the mud? That mud seems more like something to clean out of your clothes than something to revel in? Well, today is the day to try on a new attitude. Go on - shake off the doldrums that winter has left behind and make the decision to try something new: Mud season in the outdoors!

There are as many ways to play in the mud as there are muddy places, but they all involve one thing, getting dirty. Once you accept that reality - dressing yourself accordingly - you're ready to get started. An old pair or jeans or sweat pants plus old tennis shoes or boots will do the trick (for hiking, youÌll want to waterproof the seams of your boots in advance). Be sure to dress in layers on top since, as with any outdoor spring activity, you can warm up or cool down -- more quickly than you expect.

Now you're ready to hit the road or track or field. What's your preference? ATV riding in the mountains? Off-roading through the national forest, following streams and logging roads? Or maybe you'd prefer to go 4-wheeling somewhere new - through the East Texas piney woods or in the Colorado foothills.

You can wade into the mud on a bird-watching expedition in Florida, looking for those amazing Gulf Coast migrant species. Play (or watch) a game of spring Ultimate Frisbee or a rugby match. Or just take a spring hike in the mountains, braving your way across the trickling run-off of melting snows.

As you would for any outdoor excursion, be sure to plan for changes in the weather. Storms can move quickly in spring, with those April showers that bring May flowers, so be prepared. Keep rain gear handy, plus a hat that will keep your head warm and dry remember, you lose as much as 60% of your body heat out of the top of your head! Layers are crucial to keeping yourself warm and/or cool as the temperature changes. Wool has the unique quality of being able to keep you warm even after it gets wet, making this an ideal mud season material. And Gortex raingear that wicks away sweat will keep you dry even as you hike or play.

With your preparation behind you and your special mud-loving clothes on your back, you're ready to begin enjoying the season. So get out on the trail, hit the field, or hop aboard that ATV! You'll see things you wouldn't catch a glimpse of otherwise - that hawk flying overhead through a cloudy March sky or the swollen buds of trees that are anxious to leaf out. As the poet ee cummings put it, 'the world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful'. Be sure to enjoy it to the fullest.
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