There were too many toadpoles to count in North Pond today. The mud here has a grip of steel, and I managed to get myself stuck in it – a common occurrence for a seasoned marsh hopper like me. When the boot unexpectedly sinks further than expected, you can’t help but transfer most, if not all, weight to the back foot, which invariably sinks further in search of a firm base. It takes determination and a certain amount of technique to break free from sticky sediment without being sucked ever deeper into the gloop.
My situation today was not serious, even though I was well and truely stuck. I wonder, though, how an inexperienced person might cope. I know that I was inexperienced once, but it is so long ago that I’ve forgotten the feeling of panic that I think is bound to occur. Keeping a cool head and realising that stepping out of wellies before they fill with mud is an option if all else fails. Things can get difficult when wellies fill with mud. A bit more serious, though, when festooned with cameras and a shoulder bag full of sensitive bits and pieces, is keeping one’s balance and expensive kit out of the water. Fortunately, all ended well, apart from my overheating a little: exertion under hot sun quickly raises a body’s temperature.
It is altogether more favourable to escape the mud without getting a complete soaking. There have been times when I’ve let myself fall forward and my captive wellied feet and lower legs have just popped out of the mud ever so easily as my knees hit the grass. Other times I’ve let myself fall backwards, sat down and pulled my wellies to freedom. I’ve also pushed both hands and arms down into the mud along the outside of a wellie, gripped under the sole and used brute force to heave the boot out. The important thing is to avoid panic, and to use steady sustained force to solve the problem.