We’re here in April, and there’s still quite a bit of snow on the ground. The days have been warm enough to start melting the snow, but the cold nights and occasional snow showers have hampered the quick onset of spring. Pico and I went for a last ski down the railroad tracks near a friend’s house the other day, but now the snowshoes and skis are stashed, and unless something crazy happens with the weather, I think it’s time to call it a season.
A couple of weeks ago, it was so warm that we got our first taste of mud season. Now, for those of you who don’t know, mud season in a semi-official time of year between winter and spring. Mud season is not something that is well celebrated, but in some ways, it can be the best time of the year.
For me and the cabin, mud season is no picnic. I live at the end of a one mile long dirt road with limited maintenance and no neighbors. When there’s a couple of inches of snow on the road and it’s frozen solid, it’s a pretty nice drive. But winter is the when the road is at its best, and mud season is when it’s at its worst. Mud season is when the road gets wet, and it gets really wet. There are several streams that cross the road at just a couple of locations. These streams are all intermittent flows from springs up on the ridge. I have two of these streams flowing through the property out here, but they join below my cabin and mark the end of the road.
The three or so drainages along the road however, can turn it into a sloppy mess. Even with four wheel drive, I get tossed around and turned sideways in the two inch thick sludge. This is a public road, and there’s always one guy with a huge truck that feels compelled to drive down the road at forty miles an hour, creating huge ruts which then freeze overnight and make my daily commute more than a little rough.
Luckily, the entire length of the road isn’t quite this bad. During Hurricane Irene a couple years ago, the small streams turned into enormous torrents of white water. Those small flows ripped out drainage pipes going under the road in two spots and created a large sinkhole up near my end of the road. When the town fixed these issues, they did a good job and re-did whole sections with large crushed stone. But, it’s the kind of sharp, angular stone that gives me a flat tire or two each year. At least those sections aren’t muddy. I’m really not sure how to feel about that.
The driveway is another matter. After being forced to hike in for another couple of weeks, I can finally drive the car all the way up to the cabin. It’s nice to be able to do that instead of stashing a sled at the bottom of the driveway and walking in dragging it behind. There’s still quite a bit of snow and ice on the driveway because a big part of it doesn’t get much sun. I think I should be all set to get in and out until next winter though. It was a hassle parking at the bottom of the hill and hiking up to the cabin. I just hope that mud season gets done in a hurry, otherwise I might have a much longer hike.