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Mud About You

The naked truth about nature walks

May 2024

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Columnist

If you love to walk in the woods, as many rural folks do, then taking the “road less traveled” can either be a wonderful thing, or it can turn out to be an awful thing.

Guess which one happened to me?

When the horses I love have been moved for the winter, the magic is gone from my everyday walk. So, I decided to take a different trail. I used to take this trail years ago. It was beautiful then, and remote, and I rarely encountered another hiker, which was a bonus.

Well, things on this trail today are changing. Every hundred yards now, new driveways are going in. This requires a lot of heavy equipment. None was there on the day I was there, but evidence remained. There were huge tire tracks and big holes. It was disheartening. It had also just rained for days, so I had to watch my step.

I walked about a mile or so on this trail and then decided to turn around. On my way back, I inadvertently slipped into a big mud hole. It was about knee-deep, and so was I. Try as I may, I couldn’t pull out my foot. Then, of course, I fell.

Now both feet, and most of me, was stuck in a big mud bog. I put my hands down to sort of push up and out, but instead, I just sank deeper. I then decided to try rolling out. No dice. I could see firmer ground not far away, but there was no big stick or rock to use as a fulcrum. I was good and stuck.

I could see several rooftops way over on the other side of the hill. Hoping someone was outside within shouting distance, I did what I have never had to do. I yelled: “Help! Help me, please!” No one answered.

I know that this trail has no cell service. But I always still carry my cellphone as a precaution, just in case. I dug my muddied phone out of my pocket. I was truly covered from collar to shoes in thick mud. After wiping the phone off, I could see that the screen said “no service,” but I could also see a teensy pinprick of a dot at the end of one bar.

What the heck? I decided to try 911. It would soon be dark; I had nothing to lose.

It worked! I got the emergency dispatcher. I told her where I was. “I can see you on my locator,” she said. I was encouraged. I said I didn’t need the rescue squad, but I did need at least “one strong deputy to drag me out of this mud bog.”

I waited and waited. But I felt relieved that someone was coming. Then my phone rang. The dispatcher said the deputy couldn’t find me. “I’m just off the trail,” I said. “You’re on the trail, not the gravel road?” she asked, sounding rather awed. I waited some more, my eyes trained on the trail for any sign of an approaching deputy.

Then I finally saw him and he finally saw me. “I have never been so glad to see anyone in my life!” I shouted at him.

This happened to be a big, muscled deputy that I know and like very much. He was calm; I was not. He managed to haul me up, but I nearly knocked both of us down the hill.

Later, when I drove home soaked in mud, I didn’t even want those clothes in the house. I undressed on my porch, hoping no one passing by on the highway below would notice me. Even my underwear was soaked with mud. Off it all came, right out there in the open.

I haven’t yet heard any reports that anyone saw me naked on my porch. Believe me, around these rural parts that’s a tale that would have traveled far and wide, and fast, so I guess this story ends on a positive note.

To order a copy of Margo’s “A Party of One,” call 540-468-2147 Mon.-Wed., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., or email [email protected].