The Hanksville Mud Bog
There are two roads in Hanksville: Weaver and Bean. At the end of Weaver is a farmhouse nestled in a dip of the western side of the Green Mountains. It’s a hill farm property of some 300 acres belonging to a Weaver, first name Nat, who inherited the land from his father, who inherited it from his uncle before that. They’ve got beef cattle that are presently on some pasture not visible from the slope where we’re standing. What's visible is a swath of this gently rolling range, the Weaver's farmhouse, monster trucks and the mud bog.
But what is the mud bog, you ask? Exactly what it sounds like. A giant pit of mud, made completely on purpose. Here in Hanksville, it starts with the fertile clay of the land, which is nursed a ton of water, and churned for hours by a giant excavator. The result is the most glorious pool of liquified dirt you’ve ever seen, welcoming any four-wheeled vehicle to drive right through it.
It’s my guess that Hanksville doesn’t see much action except for the two days a year that flank the summer months when this event is in session. We would’ve missed the turn-off for Weaver Road ourselves if it hadn’t been for a sandwich board at the corner with the words “Mud Bog” painted on it. The road ends at the Weaver’s farm where the rowdy, rollicking mess begins, but it's an organized and friendly one, at that.
A staff member in a purple Mud Bog t-shirt has stopped on the slope to answer our questions. He takes his time with us.
“The bog’s been here, oh, since 2011.” He says.
“Where was it before?”
“On the other side of that telephone poll.” He points to a brushy low point just before the forest line. “It’s was there since about 2008, 2007 or so. Before that the mud pit was over there.” He points behind the house. “It was just a big party back then.” I’m guessing he means before the official t-shirts and $5 cover.
It’s late in the day and the crowd has thinned out. After the long parading of trucks through the bog, a few partygoers take the dare and slap their bodies into the mud. Our children are invited past the ropes and encouraged to put their toes in. “It’s good for you.” Another staff member assures them. “It makes your skin smooth.” There’s none of the necessary roughness I might have expected from a monster truck scene with lots of revving engines, just an air of matter-of-fact festivity. Most folks are relaxing in lawn chairs with a Bud Light or a Molson in hand (you don’t see much craft beer in this crowd), laughing with friends at the shenanigans.
Nat Weaver, whom we’ve heard a lot about at this point, walks up the hill towards us. The young farmer stops to chat, he’s the type you’d say never met a stranger, and is quick with a smile. Our kids are now running around with mud caked up to their chins, threatening us with hugs and Nat seems tickled by their enjoyment. We all stand there talking for a time, taking in the lush backdrop with dusk settling in.
As the event winds down, pick-up trucks with cabs full of teenagers bumble down the slope back onto Weaver Road. The last of the crusty vehicles are getting tires changed or hitched up onto trailers. Eventually, we're schooled by a group of locals on the quickest back roads home (GPS has nothing on these guys). I'd say it was another successful day for the Mud Bog: lots of laughs, lots of trucks and lots of good, not-so-clean fun.
Photographs by Dylan Griffin.