Hubris. It caused Icarus to fall from the sky on wax wings. It caused President Bush to lead us into a war with Iraq promising it would be "over quickly." It cause Britney Spears to attempt her "comeback" on the Video Music Awards in 2007. And this weekend, it caused me to get stuck in the mud.
It started off as a lovely weekend. Our friends Jen and David invited us up to their new cabin outside of Heber for a weekend of hanging out, wildlife watching, and ATV riding. I was instantly wary of the third part -- after all, I work in an industry where the word "ATV" is usually somehow related to the words "tragic accident." And I am not a good driver in a normal car, where I am protected by seat belts, and tons of metal. I had a bad feeling about this, but I let myself get talked into it anyway.
The first few minutes were rough, and I pretty much thought I was going to die. I stalled out twice, almost threw myself over the handlebars when I accelerated, and then ran into a bunch of bushes when I underestimated the turning radius. After a while though I was feeling pretty comfortable, and stopped having sudden flashes of me lying in a heap of twisted metal. I even took it up a few hills, which made me feel like a redneck rock star. On the biggest hill I just kept repeating "just don't slow down, just don't slow down" recalling a physics lesson from the distant past, and whooped with all my might when I made it to the top. When Ryan got up I was so proud of myself that I yelled "did you see me honey? I did it!" And then Ryan gave me that look that let me know he loves me, even though I'm, at times, special needs.
On the way back to the cabin David decided to take us to a spot called the "obstacle course." It's a spot where kids and other beginning riders can practice their skills. It has flat parts, little hills, and some marshy areas. I was feeling pretty confident, and I felt I had pretty much mastered hills, so I decided to try riding in the marshy areas. Bad idea. I was about a fourth of the way through when I got stuck. Really stuck. Now, I have lived in Utah most of my life, and have gotten stuck in the snow several times, so I thought I knew what to do. I switched the ATV into 4 wheel drive and tried going forward. Nothing. I tried going backwards. Nothing. I tried turning the wheels and rocking it back and forth. Nothing. I swore at it. Nothing. And then I looked down and realized that with every attempt to free myself I had sunken deeper and deeper into the muck.
By this time Ryan, Jen and David had all figured out that I wasn't going to be able to get out by myself, so they came to help, carefully leaving their machines on solid ground. Now, I hadn't gotten off of the ATV yet, so I had no idea how bad the mud was around me. But when I saw Jen and Ryan sink up to their shins, I got a pretty good idea.
Soon, we were all covered in the mud. It was on our shoes, and pant legs. It was on my socks, because I had to take off my shoes, since they were slip-ons and could be easily sucked off. It was on our hands and arms from placing branches underneath the wheels of the ATV, and then moving them when that didn't work. It was on our faces, and in our hair. It was truly disgusting. Don't believe me? Check out the video...
We didn't leave it behind. After about an hour we were able to free the ATV from the mud by making a chain of two other ATV and two winches. The wood we had put under the tires helped the stuck ATV gain traction as it came out. We were victorious. Filthy, but victorious. We rode back to the cabin with smiles on our faces, our now swampy aromas scenting the wind, as the mud dried into a hard cake on our skin and clothes.
The clean-up was almost as disgusting as the getting dirty. We couldn't go into the house, so we each had to take a turn stripping down and spraying off with the hose in the driveway. Streams of dirty water poured down the hill. The mud fell off in clumps from pants and shoes, but seemed to be permanently attached to skin and hair. It took many, many more washes until I finally felt clean.
I would love to say this is the first time I have ever done something this stupid, and that I have learned my lesson, and will never fly too close to the sun again. Yeah, I would love to say that. I mean, I guess I could, but I would be lying. I cannot tell you how many times I have let overconfidence lead me into a sticky situation. It happens so often that Ryan has a term for it -- "going aggro dick." Luckily, if there is something I actually have learned from these experiences it's how important it is to have people around I stumble and fall on my hubris. Otherwise I would be permanently stuck in the mud.