Ahh … Mud Season in the Upper Peninsula is yet another tourist season that often goes without notice and varies in intensity. I’m quickly learning it’s a time of year when the simple task of making it to, and from, work a challenge. There was a time when I used to snicker at the sight of those jacked-up, four-wheel-drive truck with tires taller than me. I’ve stopped laughing now that I know those are the ONLY vehicles that can safely navigate some of these monstrous mud holes. If any of you reading this have experienced “Mud Season” on a dirt road, you know what I mean.
For those of my friends living in Florida, Mud Season is a period in the north that takes place in late winter/early spring when dirt paths such as roads, ski hills and hiking trails become VERY muddy from melting snow and rain.
Still not sure what I’m talking about? Mud season occurs only in places where the ground freezes deeply in winter, is covered by snow, and thaws in spring. Dirt roads and paths become muddy because the deeply frozen ground thaws from the surface down as the air temperature warms above freezing which has happened early this year. The snow has melted away but the frozen lower layers of ground prevent water from percolating into the soil so the surface layers of soil become saturated with water and turn to mud. Very thick, slippery, nasty mud.
Mud season’s also characterized by giant puddles along paved roads, from large piles of snow melting, that have no place to drain off to. Lots of puddle dodging on the way to work. Don’t bother washing your car, it’s only going to be covered in mud by the next puddle.
Every Spring is probably a little different. Last year it came later and the mud wasn’t as severe in the area. This year it’s early and Yoopers are struggling to keep their sanity. Some say the severity of Mud Season depends on how deep the frost permeates the ground in winter. Others claim it’s related to the amount of rain we receive in the early Spring. Personally, I think it depends on how quickly the sub-surface defrosts… Who knows? I just know we transitioned from below zero temperatures to mid-50’s very quickly. Voila – mud!
Nonetheless, those that live in this region wouldn’t trade the joys of Upper Peninsula living for anything. I think take some even take perverse pride in their “fifth season.” Yoopers are a hardy folk!