This Mud-Bathing Bear Is Our Summer Trail Vibe

This bear has learned to appreciate the trail no matter the conditions, and we could all stand to learn from them.

Photo: Courtesy CPW

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It’s been a cool, wet start to the summer in Colorado‘s Front Range. Where temperatures were pushing 100 degrees by this time in 2022, this year, it’s been temperate, with near-constant rain. Most weekends, getting a hike in has meant waking up early so we can be off the trail before the afternoon thunderstorms roll in. As recently as a week or so ago, some trails were still a muddy mess, and other, dry ones are now cratered with boot and mountain bike tire prints deep enough that you could roll an ankle on them. All that’s to say, if one more person says “but we need the moisture!” to me, I may throw them into one of our unusually swollen rivers.

So I’m trying to take some inspiration from this bear, who seems to have found a way to make the most of the wet weather. A few weeks ago, a trail camera at Roxborough State Park, located just south of Denver, captured this tubby ursine taking what looks like a thoroughly satisfying wallow in a mud pit. While studies have shown that bears take baths to cool down in hot weather, it’s hard to say whether that was this one’s motivation, given the temperature didn’t even crack 70 degrees that day. Me? I think they were just enjoying themself.

As we move toward the solstice and the ‘official’ start of the season, I’m going to carry this lesson with me: The most important part of being outside is learning to love the conditions you get, not the ones you wish you had. Next time I hit the trail, instead of bemoaning the clouds and drizzle, I’ll spend my time admiring how green the hills are right now, appreciating the cool breeze, and, yes, playing in the puddles. Because as much as I complain about it, we really do need the moisture.

From 2023