Wednesday, March 29, 2023

It's That Time

Many places have four seasons—did you know that New England has 5?

It's called Mud Season and it coincides with the spring season.

New England's 5th season is Mud Season
One day there might be several inches of snow and the next day it's sunny and 50℉. These weather and temperature swings combine to create this 5th season in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.  

Maybe you're wondering if Mud Season is a really big deal. If you live in New England, it's a way of life for several weeks as venturing out on unpaved roads by foot or auto is a slushy mess. It's worse on hiking trails, and there's a lot of those in the White Mountains of NH and the Green Mountains of VT.

A hiking trail in Mud Season: online source
Think of it like an extended thaw because that's what Mud Season isthe time between winter and spring when the combination of snow, rain, and melt produces very wet ground conditions  which leads to mud. The exact time period is weather-dependent, but it usually starts around the snowmelt in late March (now) or early April. 

What Causes It? When snow melts and spring rains start, the ground can only hold so much
water. Varying temperatures result in a slow thaw. Lower ground levels stay frozen longer and prevent water from draining, so it gets trapped at surface level.

Walking in mud: online source
Warm days the past couple of weeks have led to sloppy conditions on many trails in Mine Falls Park in Nashua, NH, where we have enjoyed hiking.
Trail use is limited in many spots, caution is advised. Whenever there's a muddy trail, it's best to find another spot to hike; walking in mud is never an enjoyable experience. 

On hiking trails, deep wide mud puddles often take up entire sections. Walking around muddy areas or walking on the edges of trails tramples vegetation, widens the trail, and causes more damage to both the trail and the environment.

Oversaturated trails are vulnerable to damage from soil compaction and erosion. Water erosion and wind carry soil away leaving rocks and roots exposed; soil compaction degrades the trail by reducing its ability to absorb water, causing more flooding. It's become such an issue that some state forest trails close for a while in Mud Season.

When does Mud Season End? Sometime in mid-May to early June when stronger sunlight starts to dry things out. Mud Season usually ends around Memorial Day, which seems like a long time. It's not an exact timeframe due to climate change. 

Some New England cars during Mud Season
If walking in Mud Season is an experience, driving in it is more so. It's been compared to driving in snow where slow and steady is best. Driving through mud results in a very dirty car at best and, at worst, the car could veer off the road. Most likely, there's as many happy car wash owners during Mud Season as during winter. 
The L.L. Bean Maine Boot is available in many styles
Mud Season is when a iconic New England fashion comes into use—the easily recognized boot which was created by Leon Leonwood (L.L.) Bean to solve the problem of soggy bootsIn 1912, Bean designed
Leon Leonwood Bean
 a boot based on the comfort and flexibility of a leather upper plus the durability of a rubber-soled work boot. The goal was to keep his feet warm and dry 
when hunting in western Maine

Setting up shop in his brother’s basement, he manufactured 100 pairs of a Maine Hunting Shoe and promoted it in a mailer sent to out-of-state sportsmen. Bean was so sure of his product that he offered a 100% satisfaction guarantee. While this was a good marketing concept, unsatisfied customers took him up on the offer and 90 pairs were returned. 

The problem was that despite Bean's innovative design, the single-line stitching tore through the rubber and separated completely from the leather upper. 

A man of his word, Bean issued refunds and borrowed money from his family to redesign the boot with a more durable rubber. It was reinforced by triple-line stitching to ensure the rubber and leather would not separate. The triple-line stitch is still a signature of the L.L.Bean Boot.

Babe Ruth letter to L.L. Bean
Over the years, Bean’s reputation for quality and customer care grew. He received letters and photos from outdoorsmen and women countrywide. One loyal customer was baseball great, Babe Ruth, who wrote his own letter of appreciation in 1934.

The Bean boot (Maine Hunting Shoe, Bean Boot or Duck Boot) is one of the most recognizable pieces of footwear in American outdoors history. The 8-inch, unlined tan boot is so popular that several years ago there was a nationwide shortage. 

In addition to the triple stitching, another feature that has never changed is the signature rubber sole. For many, this alone makes it an outdoor must-have during Mud Season when the boot does what Bean designed it to do—keeps feet dry.  

Now, after all this about Mud Season and Bean boots, you might wonder if we have a pair. The answer is No. There's an L.L. Bean outlet store in Nashua, NH, where we tried them, and didn't find them very comfortable. 

Triple stitched, rubber soled 8-inch tan Bean Boot


Anvilcloud said...

Only you would get a research essay out of mud season.

I once had a pair of boots similar to those, but they were uncomfortable because the tops of the feet would buckle inward. I guess they weren't triple stitched.

Mud season is a good season to stay on the pavement. The trails can wait awhile longer.

MadSnapper said...

no mud season here in FL but the cars look like those cars in the eastern part of our county, from dirt roads that are sand and something like flour that flys around wet or dry. In KY we had boots by the door for every one, all winter and spring.. but there was orange clay that dried like concrete, TN has that and some of north GA... makes me think of the old westerns I love where the streets were always full of mud

Rita said...

Our spring comes so quickly when it finally arrives mud just equals spring here...also water soaked lawns that splash here in town. I have heard of those boots but never owned any. I do like the look of the British wellies used for the same purpose, but I never owned a pair of those either. They are just one piece of rubber it looks like and seem even more practical for the mud and wet. :)

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Ducks boots, I forgot I have a pair made by Dexter. As I recall, the toes freeze next to the rubber.

Bijoux said...

Some of that resembles our backyard as we have a natural rock wall that 'weeps' water year round. It just never seems to dry out. In Ohio, we call the 5th season 'Orange Barrel Season.' LOL!

NewRobin13 said...

It's mud season here too! What a mucky mess it is out in the garden. Even the plants are saying they've had enough. I love your photos and the Babe Ruth letter.

Sandra said...

We also have mud season. I'm hoping this year will be less mud because we had so much snow the frost isn't very deep in the ground. We are having a nice, slow melt, too. I have had those boots, I find them cumbersome in mud. I use just a pull on rubber boot.

Red said...

I hate mud. My car gets stuck in mud. The prairies are very dry but still get a mud season. Here , the problem is that the ground is frozen and when the ground is thawing most things shut down. There are road bans to keep traffic off some roads when the "frost is coming out".

Vee said... driveway looks awful. I put the littles to work filling the holes with mud...little shovels and little rakes came in handy. They had fun! Mud season lasts entirely too long!

gigi-hawaii said...

I hate mud. I don't own boots. I have only one pair of shoes, and they are sandals that I wear year round.

photowannabe said...

Great info on L.L. Bean boots. I see them often around here. People use them when they go to our Sierra Nevada Mountains. Think there will be a very long "mud" season this year, due to the tremendous snow pack. People's homes and cabins are almost completely covered to the roofs with snow.
Me?? we have soggy mud in our backyard from all the rain. I could really use a pair of those when slogging around back there.

Emma Springfield said...

We are also in the middle of mud season. It snows then melts rains then melts snows again then melts... you know the drill. The boots look sturdy.

David said...

Beatrice, I'm sure that we have a mud season here least along the trails in the nearby Cherokee National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We just not hikers and never have been so we haven't experienced the trails or the mud. Those LL Bean boots surely are an iconic American Made product...even if we don't own a pair. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Bindu said...

Nice to see all the boots. Glad that I don't need a mudboot

DUTA said...

We hardly have serious rain over here, so no mud, and no boots within sight.

Jon said...

I never heard of the mud season. I love the four seasons, but can definitely do without a fifth.

William Kendall said...

Such is the case here.

My name is Erika. said...

This post is spoken like a true New Englander. (Which by the way I am.) This year we've had multiple mud seasons-in my yard, driveway, road...what a mess. Thank goodness I still have felt lined Bean boots from the 1980's that I am still faithfully wearing. And if the liners get wet, they come out to dry. I wonder if they still make them? hugs-Erika

Marcia said...

I have a modified version of the LL Bean boot. It's called a duck shoe I think. I wear it a lot at this time of year. No insulation so wearing in the snow is not so good. It's a good rain shoe too.

Muddy roads can be very dangerous. We avoid them.

Jeanie said...

We call is Sprinter. And it's a mess here, too. The good thing is it doesn't last too long...

Boud said...

We don't seem to have a mud season just the occasional day when I can't hike the Preserve, local wilderness area. I can't get any boots that are comfortable, including all the famous makes. So I have sturdy shoes and avoid snow and mud!

nick said...

I've never heard of Mud Season before. Sounds like a major nuisance. But of course some inventive guy like L L Bean comes up with a solution to the mud problem - and no doubt makes plenty of money in the process. But I must say they look practical rather than comfortable.

Veronica Lee said...

I hate mud!

Glad we don't need mud boots over here in my tropical corner of the world.

Hugs and blessings, Dorothy

Rob Lenihan said...

I never knew about mud season, but then I only visit New England in the summer.

Thanks the L.L. Bean history. Even more stuff I didn't know!