A Marshy Mishap on the MST

Yesterday at work a customer who recognized me as the HikeByFaith guy asked me if I’ve ever had a “bad” hike. My response was; “It depends on what you consider a bad hike.”

Sure, there have been times I’ve gone hiking and have had a tough moment or a mishap. But while my hikes have not all been grand adventures I can’t say I’ve had “bad” hike.

What do I consider a mishap? Well, tripping, falling and breaking an ankle would be a big mishap. Fortunately I have not experienced that kind of moment. Any mishaps Ive experienced have been small and mostly an inconvenience or awkward.

For example, I was hiking Maple Run, a portion of the MST that runs through the eastern mountains of the Cove. I started at the trailhead a couple miles in from Pulpit Road making my way south. My goal was to make it to the New Frontier Diner and hike back. A simple in and back. This portion of the trail weaves its way through a deep valley. On the left a brook flows year round. During the spring and summer you can spot small brook trout darting in and out of their hiding places. On both sides of the trail are steep rocky ascents taking you to the top of two mountains. On either side of the trail the ground is covered with green ferns, boulders and moss. On humid days in the summer this portion of the trail is a breath of fresh air for any weary hiker and a soothing break from the humidity. The plant life, boulders and thick forest of trees shades the sun and holds in cooler temps rising from the brook.

My hike was taking longer than expected, as I was enjoying the views and taking time to stop for a picture or two. I wasn’t concerned about time on this hike. I was in one of the moments where my mind and heart strayed away from daily thoughts or any upcoming “business” that needed to be handled. I was in the zone and loving it.

I was about a mile from reaching my destination, the New Frontier Diner, when my “mishap” happened. After climbing a short rocky hill and ascending down the other side, the forest opened up slightly to reveal a meadow like area. The trees had thinned out and gave way to a field of green ferns. At this time the trail had veered away from the brook about hundred yards still to my left. After hiking over, on, and through rocks and boulders the mere sight of this green meadow of ferns caused me to sigh in relief. Why? Because a trail leading through green ferns and moss to hiker is like walking on a cloud of pillows. My feet were about to take a break.

Making my way through the trail I soaked in each step I took. My feet were thanking me and as I enjoyed the soft gentle trail I began to loose focus. My mind had drifted off to peaceful places that made me wonder; “is this what it’s like when Calgon takes someone away?”

Then it happened…

The trail was soft for a reason. As I said I became distracted so I didn’t notice right away that the trail was covered in moss. Uh, hello Captain Obvious, a foot trail is not normally “covered” in moss. Neither does it move like a water bed.

At that moment I realized I found myself standing on top of a marsh, a natural wetland, and I as surveyed my situation, I had become so distracted I hiked my way right out in the middle of it. There was only one way out. Continue through it and pick up the blaze markers for the trail on the other side, or go back and search for the blaze marker where I left off. How I managed to get that far in and not sink through I had no clue. Pure luck I suppose. But before carefully moving on, there I stood talking out loud to myself and saying; “you’re an idiot Brian. You broke your own rule and lost focus of your surroundings and now you’re going to pay for it. This marsh is going to open up, suck you in and every woodland creature will be perched in the trees laughing at you as you work to get out hoping to not lose your boots in the process.”

I had only one choice and it did not matter which direction I went, I had to take one step at a time. I slowly moved forward, planted my foot down carefully when the “mishap” occurred. As my left foot sunk into the depth of the murky mossy abyss my right hand reached out to catch my fall. The weight of my pack created the right momentum to hurl myself forward causing my right hand to sink along with my left foot. Some how my body turned and I went from a face first plant in the marsh to a full on, butt plant. Lucky for me the boulder caught my fall as my pack slammed against it. Nothing like a boulder to cushion the blow. Anyway, there I sat with one foot in the air, the other in mud and water and my pants soaking up the marsh leaking into places that weren’t very comfortable. To look at me from a distance was a sight I’m sure. If I was playing a round of twister I probably would have won with that smooth move.

I managed to get to my feet with my boots still on and my pride intact…a little. Crazy thing about this mishap, I felt awkward and embarrassed as if a crowd of people were standing around. I even caught myself looking around to find out if anyone saw me. “You’re out in the woods you idiot. No one saw you except Mr. Chipmunk.” But my hike back to my car was long and uncomfortable as I was pretty much wet from the waist down. But I lived to hike another day.

Remember, mishaps happen, but don’t allow them to keep you down. Get back up, keep moving and hike by faith.


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