Travel Blog

The Story of Mud Island

2017 Gateway Burn, Water Mountain, Gasconade River, MO


One day a troupe of burners marched down to the Gasconade River from camp. Some splashed into the water joyously, others reluctantly waded in, but all joined and basked in the river. Grace pulled Paige through the water on her back and she looked like an otter. We made our way up the river, everyone treading in the same direction. It was challenging swimming against the current. At one point I was pretty much making no progress and Grace struggled toward a downed tree parallel to the shore. Around there, being the terrestrial creature that I am, I decided to float back with the current and get out on the shore. Everyone was trying to get to this beach spot and I knew I wouldn’t make it in the water.

I picked my way through the woods, with the shore covered in massive trees and wood debris, probably from the flood a few weeks ago. I reached the beach just as the others swam ashore. We sat on the beach and decided that it was up to us to start this new island society.

We started covering Vinny in mud from the shore. He basked in it and we all started covering each other in mud. Creating mud people. We worshipped the mud.

Our island brought new life, as Malwina created a mud baby, named Dum. He fell apart, and then she had another. Janelle, another woodland fairy, also took the walking route to Mud Island. She approached us and we all got on our knees, grunting, and offered her handfuls of mud.

Josh, Vinny, and Grace looked and acted every bit the Mud Island people. Grace looked like a baby Tarzan with her wild hair and mud splotches on her face. She was also the midwife to the birth of the mud babies.

At some point, Malwina asked if anyone was on drugs and there was a resounding, “No” and then laughing. It just felt good to play.

Josh wandered from the island and all of his mud washed away, except for his face. He looked terrifying. He rushed back to the island and we made him a mud person once again. Vinny placed a river-muck crown on Josh’s head.

It was time to leave Mud Island. Vinny was the first to leave the island, drifting off back downstream. Paige, Janelle, Grace and I jumped in off a mini sandbar ledge and the float back was fantastic. Malwina, Josh, and Brian walked back through the woods to show off their newfound Mud heritage.

The mud on my skin washed off that day, but the mud in my heart remains.

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