River Bottom Mud Bogging

The smell of exhaust, the thunderous roar of revving engines and chunks of wet mud flying through the air, paired with the snow-capped backdrop of the Lizard Range and you’ve got yourself a wild, truly authentic mud-bogging event.

Unbeknownst to me, every Easter weekend folks from the Elk Valley gather to spin their tires in the mud on the shores of Lake Koocanusa. They bog, they party and they get real dirty. So this year, I thought I’d tag along.

My sister and I drive a four-wheel jeep to Umbrella Beach where the weekend’s bogging occurs. The road down is muddy and rock-laden and we follow a convoy of vehicles to the shore. I already feel proud that I’m driving myself through what I consider to be precarious road conditions.

That is, until we reach the lake and I see a blond girl in a camouflage hat driving an enormous diesel truck through a muddy slough like it’s no big deal. I quickly swallow my pride.

We park the jeep and grab a couple of beers – because what’s a bog without a beer – and go in search of familiar faces.

What we find is amazing. There must be 500 people here, a giant tailgate party filled with beers, food and country music. A redneck’s paradise, of sorts. There are dogs running alongside dirt bikes, dust blowing on the flats. I feel a little dumbstruck by the vastness of it all.

Two girls drive by on a quad and their camo outfits are caked in mud. I look down at my clean boots and my crisp jacket and find myself wishing I was covered in mud too.

Mud envy. Who knew.

We pass a group of guys perched on a couch in the back of a truck. A jeep rips through the mud adjacent to us, the driver’s phone number spray painted on the side of the vehicle with the words “call me ladies” written below. I quickly write the number down.

I’m just kidding, of course. Although I’m sure there were many ladies who found his efforts tempting.

We run into friends Jerri Bradburn and Paul Taylor and their mud-plastered jeep. Paul, who has been bogging for almost 10 years, volunteers to take me out. I pull myself inside, perhaps a little too eagerly, and then realize I am not sure what to do.

“What do I hang on to?” I ask him.

“There’s a bar in front of you,” he replies, laughing at my uncertainty. “You’ll be just fine.”

We start towards the muddiest section of the bog and Paul guns it, mud flying through my window. I can feel chunks of dirt and clay hitting the side of my neck and I’m bouncing around as though I were being bucked from a horse. I let out a few good yelps as we tear through the mud, but they are excited yelps, obviously.

I look over at Paul, utterly unfazed by the entire affair. A smoke hangs casually from his mouth. I’m totally not cool enough for this. And it’s the best thing ever.

“It’s just good fun,” he says after we’re done. “There’s no competition, just bragging rights.”

We gather around and watch dirt bikes, quads and other trucks tear through the mud. There are families that go by on side-by-sides, kids playing in the mud. An excavator helps pull stuck trucks from their muddy graves and back onto dry land, just to get stuck again.

A nearby vehicle blast’s Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” through its speakers and I find myself wishing I was just a little more redneck. I can’t even drive a standard vehicle, for goodness sake.

I try to imagine my little townie bicycle trudging through the mud bog and I begin to laugh to myself. The townie wouldn’t get too far.

We soon find a spot along the bank and watch the mud enthusiasts continue. The Lizard Range towers in the background. It’s truly picturesque, even with the smell of exhaust in the air.

These locally grown outdoor addicts know how to have a good time and they would most certainly prefer getting dirty doing it.

There it is again. Mud envy.