Mud Season

A damp morning fog lingers over the valley as I quickly pack lunch and a few last-minute items into my rucksack. I glance up valley; my eye follows the ridge line for about a quarter of a mile before gray sky meets gray valley, punctuated only by distinct shapes of white pines along the horizon. Shivering against the damp, I shove a rain jacket and extra wool cap into my pack just in case. I know it’s an unnecessary precaution because today’s forecast calls for full sun by midmorning, but I don’t mind the extra bulk and they weigh next to nothing in my pack. As I walk across the gravel road to meet the small group huddled together at the trailhead, I know two things for sure: spring has finally arrived here in southwest Wisconsin, and it is now officially mud season.

Today I’m meeting with a group from Minneapolis–St. Paul who have come to the Driftless area for a weekend getaway. We’ll spend the day in the woods, practicing wilderness skills, taking photographs, and looking for signs of spring. A few of the guys have fly rods and will try their luck sometime before lunch. Wildcat Mountain State Park is the perfect area for our explorations because of its great trails, diverse ecosystems, and easy access to the Kickapoo River. We wait patiently while someone swaps walking shoes for full rubber mud boots. After a few warm up games we hit the trail, and I immediately see that we are in for some real fun here in southwestern Wisconsin…

This post originally appeared in the April 2011 issue of the Kickapoo Free Press.

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