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The Great Mud Bog Incident

I recently had a few visitors to the great state of Colorado. About eight, to be exact. And with that many people, planning day trips can sometimes be a real challenge. With the diversity of interests of the guests and the multitude of adventures to be had in Colorado you are always faced with choices.

Should we go hiking or maybe look at Indian ruins? No, let’s see some ghost towns! Or how about an old mining camp? Wait, we want to go four-wheeling and river rafting. Rock climbing would be fun or maybe skydiving! Ooh, let’s do indoor skydiving and then a zip line. Or how about a balloon ride and then a day at a museum….

On and on, the conversation always wandered from one adventure to the next.

To ease the pain of these discussions, and to shorten the time it takes to choose our daily adventure, I usually offer such large groups just two options on any given day. This generally allows a little choice for everyone. We use multiple vehicles, depending on who decides to choose what adventure and generally the day ends when we all gather at a local pub for some eats and drinks—and to discuss the fun we’ve had.

On the day of the Great Mud Bog Incident, I offered two different adventures: a hike from Georgetown to Empire or a four-wheeling adventure in the mountains east and north of Empire. After about two hours of decision making, we had a plan in place. Six of us would go hiking and four would head to the four-wheeling trail. At the end of the day, we decided we would call each other and arrange to meet for dinner and drinks in Georgetown.

At about 2:30 in the afternoon, while I was high in the forested mountains on a trail above Empire, my phone rang. We had just started back on our way down to Georgetown. It was Dawn. I just happened to have her son Ben, daughter Anna and Anna’s husband, Matt, with me and she was calling to check in.

The conversation went like this:

Mike: Hi Dawn.

Dawn: Where are you guys?

Mike: Just coming down from the mountains above Empire and headed for Georgetown. We’re thinking about checking out a mud bog on our way back.

Dawn: Um, okay. We’re getting thirsty, so we’ll head for Georgetown and call you when we get to a bar. You can meet us there.

Mike: Okay, just remember that I may not have a signal until I get down out of these mountains, but you can leave a message.

Dawn: Okay (followed by a nervous pause). By the way, is everyone okay?

Mike: Yup and having fun. Bye.

Right about then, my devious mind began to go into overdrive. Never one to pass up a good practical joke, I formulated my plan, then I waited for Dawn’s next anxious call. As we were driving out of the mountains, it came.

Dawn: Mike?

Mike: Yup, it may be a while before we get there, as we got stuck in the mud bog. We should be out soon, though so let me get back to work getting us out.  No need to worry. See you soon.


I can only imagine what started running through Dawn’s mind then.

A very short while later: ring, ring

Mike: Hello Dawn.

Dawn: (Slightly frantic) What is happening? Did you get out of the bog?

Mike: Nope, I’m walking back to town to get someone to help. The kids are with the Jeep.

Dawn: (Starting to panic) We’ll come and get you.

Mike: Sorry, but that big ol’ truck of yours will never make it up here.

Dawn: Trepidation setting in) How far do you have to walk?

Now, this was my first chance to give Dawn a hint that my account was not necessarily accurate. So I replied.

Mike: About 14 miles, if I recall correctly. I think I’ll take a short cut through the forest to cut off some time. I should make it in about three and half, maybe four hours.

Dawn: (Now in full blown fear mode) Are you sure everyone is okay?

Mike: Yup, everyone is fine. Just remember I may not have a signal on the phone up here the next time you call (another hint).

Dawn: Okay, stay in touch.

Mike: Will do. Bye.

Now the stage was set. Everyone had overheard my conversation and was in on the plan. From now on I would NOT answer my phone if Dawn called, and we would limit any further communications with Dawn to only her kids.

After numerous phone calls and hectic text messages to my phone, Dawn finally broke down and sent a text to her son, Ben. We decided to continue the ruse via text.

Ben: Mike left to get help. Still in the Jeep in the bog. Raining and the water is raising or we are sinking. Water up to the brush guards near the bottom of the door.

Dawn: Just stay calm. You know what to do. Maybe you and Matt can get the jeep out.  Anyway, Mike always carries supplies and his personnel beacon so if you have to, you can engage that.

Ben: Mike took the keys with him and the beacon. The top is down and we can’t get it up so we are out in the rain.

Dawn: You are smart and capable. Don’t panic as you can figure it out. Use your wilderness training. I am sure it will be alright.

Ben: Mom,we just heard gunshots. I hope Mike is okay (another hint).

Immediately my phone started to ring, and the texts started to fly. I did not respond. By this time we were reaching Georgetown and nearing the bar.

According to the other group, this was right about the time Dawn started pacing the bar, going in and out to get a better phone signal and polling the group about the situation. They reassured her that I was always prepared and had been in worse situations, telling her not to worry. The next day Alex (also Dawn’s son) gave us a delightful impersonation of her panic. It was a sight to see. But that’s another story.

Being a mom, of course, Dawn did not listen to the group. More text messages to Ben.

Dawn: Are you guys okay?

Ben: Not really, as the water keeps rising and it is now over the wheels. Raining hard but we finally got the top up on the Jeep. Have you heard from Mike?

Dawn: No

Ben: Wonder what the gunshots were all about?

Now in complete hysterics, Dawn rushed to her husband, Art, and showed him the message.

Art replied: “I hope he got ‘em with the first shot.”

Having been in on the plot via text, the rest of the group knew we were ok. By now we were all walking down the street towards the bar. Dawn had her back to us when we walked in, and we could tell she was still desperately trying to get the rest of the crew to do something to help us out of the bog. They were busy drinking, eating and relaxing. As she turned to face us, her faced flashed from panic to relief and then pure, unadulterated anger.

It was nothing a pitcher of margaritas couldn’t fix.