Do you remember your first time going to an ATV mud event? The low growls from an ATV exhaust, fighting to keep water out of the engine. The sound of custom waterproof stereo systems heard echoing through the trees. The hootin' and hollerin' of a 100-plus-member ATV club, as their signature rider maneuvers his machine through a four-foot-deep pond almost as if it were some form of ballet. All this happened at my first time.
This was my first year venturing to the High Lifter Mud Nationals, and these are just a handful of the great things that I experienced. I guess you could say I'm sort of a mud-riding virgin-until now, that is! I never expected anything like I encountered during my time spent in Texas. It was almost like a reckoning of sorts; I was truly amazed and blown away by these four days of excitement and the great people we met along the way. I learned so many things, but the one thing that stood out most to me is that this wasn't just an ordinary event, but in fact, it was a lifestyle that I will not soon forget.
Since I was born and raised in Southern California, ATVs for me have been primarily comprised of sport quads and side-by-side machines before this adventure. When I was given this assignment, I can honestly say that I was truly excited about finally attending a mud event. I wanted to expand my horizons and see what the opposite end of the spectrum had to offer. From the time that I arrived at Mud Creek Off-Road Park in Jacksonville, Texas, to when I left, I was literally blown away by the machines and people that I had encountered.
Day 1: Getting The Feel Of Things
ATVR Captain/Editor Thad Josey and I arrived early at the event on a foggy Thursday morning. As we drove our rental car through the gates, the first thought that crossed my mind was, Where's all the mud? I saw beautiful grass-covered hills that led to miles and miles of trees with an uncountable number of trails that wound through them, but no mud. The first thing on our agenda was to scout out the locations of the weekend's events. There was going to be everything from mud bog drag racing to Mudda-Cross and even the Mud Endurance race, and I absolutely couldn't wait.
After finding all of the event locations, we decided to do some exploring and mingle with some of those in attendance. A quick stop to the Arctic Cat tent had us equipped with a Prowler 650. (Thanks guys!) We loaded up the side-by-side with our camera equipment and were quickly on our way.
Team High Lifter/Polaris had...
Team High Lifter/Polaris had plenty of entries at every event. Here JW Otwell wheelies his way to a third-place finish in the Bogger class at the mud bog.
With Thad at the controls, he steered us toward Highline Road which seemed to be the main artery to get anywhere within this vast park. The most interesting thing about this road is that it lies right in the middle of an immense swamp. There's nothing but murky water, bright green trees and thick mud on either side of the path. Now this is what I've been waiting to see!
We made our way to what's known as the Sand Pit. For those of you who have never been to this area, it's nothing like you've ever seen before. Rider upon rider would cruise into the deep, murky water to float or wheelie their way across to the other side. Occasionally, an unfortunate soul would get in a little over their head and snorkel kit, flooding their engine with water. This is when you would see camaraderie at its finest, as a complete stranger would sacrifice his or her dry clothes to dive into the mud and help the rider get his machine righted and out of the water.
Now this is what we call a...
Now this is what we call a mud-boggin' limo.
We wanted to shoot great pictures for you, which meant that we needed some local talent for the action. We looked across the Sand Pit and saw a sea of purple shirts, signifying that they were in some sort of ATV club. Those purple shirts turned out to be the Soggy Bottom Knockers ATV Club, who were eager to get some riders in the water for us to see what they could do. We snapped away as they took their monster mud machines into the pit at depths where only the intake snorkel kits were visible. I couldn't believe that ATVs were capable of doing things like this!