Rolled Cage

Long Walk Back

Published in the June 2012 Issue September 2013 Ryan Harris

What is it about mud and four-wheelers that just spells trouble? And by trouble I mean long walks.

About 10 years ago, Dirt Toys test rider and writer Nate King and myself were riding a couple of Polaris Sportsman 500 ATVs in Island Park, ID, in the middle of summer. We'd been riding the trails and roads all day without incident-all weekend actually. So we had no reason to believe we were about to do something stupid when we turned the corner near the south banks of Henry's Lake.

The water level was low enough to expose a couple dozen yards of shoreline. We rode the trail around the lake and up through the hills for awhile. The views of the Centennial Range are spectacular from that point on the lake. And we were enjoying every second of it.

On our way back past the lake, we drove along the shoreline this time. And as most any 20-year-old man who's driven a four-wheel-drive ATV in mud, you don't want to go around stuff. Simultaneously, we both drive our ATVs closer to the water. The ground went from dirt to mud to the kind of quicksand you see in `80s movies.

My ATV sunk 18 inches in a split second, becoming buried in the kind of black, murky mud that mosquitoes thrive on and horrible smells come from. In a matter of seconds, I went from cruising around without anything stopping me to being a dead weight in the middle of a mud pit. Every spin of the tires, every turn of the handlebars, every shift of weight only sunk the machine deeper.

I was laughing between moments of confusion and worry. I looked up to see where Nate was, knowing he was laughing at my sorry butt and the solitary island I had just put myself on.

He was. He revved up his ATV and cranked the handlebars, coming back to laugh at me in closer range, I assumed. But as he turned his quad back my direction, it sank. It dropped like a bucket of concrete being tossed off a Brooklyn pier. All four tires shot a 10-foot-high roost of mud straight into the air. Nate had this familiar look of confusion and worry on his face suddenly. But he was still laughing. So was I, much harder now and more so aimed at his situation.

It was a long walk back to the cabin to get a truck. A long, long walk in mud-covered shoes with sun-burnt necks and mosquito-bitten arms.

I don't really remember how it went getting the two quads unstuck. What you tend to remember in those situations is usually the part where you get stuck and the part where you walk home.

But why did this particular instance come back to memory for this issue's column?

It just so happens Nate and I were talking about it the other day. We had some time to kill on another long walk back to the truck.

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