I have one less item on my bucket list. Sadly, it’s not because I accomplished the goal, but because I lacked a chainsaw, some dynamite and a bit of common sense.
This particular item was to wade Mosteller Creek. It’s a shallow creek 5 – 10 feet wide with a sandy bottom whose waters flow lazily out of wetlands south of the little community of Dodge City then south passing through pine forests and groves of white cedar passing under M-61 until finally merging with Cedar Creek.
I would look at the creek every time I drove Mostetler Road and over the small bridge that spans its waters. I had, in fact, made an attempt several years earlier to wade the creek when I was still married parking near the bridge and entering the creek from there. Getting in the water was easy that time and although I didn’t walk far on that particular trip—maybe a 100 yards—due to time constraints, I felt such a walk would be relaxing and interesting when I did have enough time.
It wasn’t until a hot Sunday afternoon in August that I finally resolved to walk
the creek, maybe fish some of the deeper holes its waters offered. After all, what could go wrong?
Well, to start, something like forgetting the bait, although that turned out to be the least of my worries, and besides, I’m getting ahead of myself.
So this particular Sunday, I packed a small pack with a collapsible fishing pole, and bug spray put my wallet and cell phone in plastic bags (one can’t be too sure), grabbed a compass (I easily get lost), climbed in my car and set out for the creek, which is a couple miles from my home. In a few minutes I was walking down an old railroad bed that parallels the creek, one I had been on 100 times and thought I knew well. My goal was to walk the trail for a couple hundred yards to a large clearing and then head east to intersect the creek when it was relatively wide and easy to access.
But this time my walk down the railroad grade was different. This time I got turned around. The vegetation along the trail had grown so thick due to frequent summer rains that I soon lost the trail and where I was in relation to the road, the clearing and civilization. So I decided to just head east knowing that sooner or later I’d intersect the creek. However, as I headed eastward I quickly found that the land here quickly turned from firm to spongy to marshy to swampy to a thick, odorous goop that sucked at my shoes. I pushed and climbed and levered my way through some kind of thick water-loving shrub that was 10 maybe even 100-feet higloser to actual creek bed and once I was there, it would be smooth sailing so to speak.
Well, I did finally reach the creek but not before finding myself stuck up to my thigh in the goop. Or mud. Or quicksand, fighting not to lose my balance, my shoe or my life.
I avoided all but the first and dirty, tired, wet and scratched (I was in shorts and short sleeves), I reached the creek. It’s waters were crystal clear and the sand at the bottom was white. The water level was six inches or so and flowed gently along. Unfortunately it flowed under a bridge of vegetation. I took a deep breath and plunged on through the mat only to find a downed tree, then more vegetation, then an island with vegetation blocking my course around one side of the island and a downed tree blocking my way along the other side. I tried to go up on the bank but sunk ass deep again into the black goop that was between the sand of the creek and the ferns of the bank. In a way it was amazing how deep that muck could be when the creek bottom not two feet away from it was all sand and firm.
I made it back to the road and my car. At home, I took a long shower and carefully cleaned my battered legs that were so full of cuts that I took anti-bacterial ointment and slathered it over them much like one does with suntan lotion. Then I had a beer. Then a second.
I tried. I really did and it was enough to remove “Wading Mosteller Creek” off my bucket list. While it was not the most rewarding of treks, I did find a little history: In the banks of the creek north of the bridge I found some logs that were part of the cribbing used to construct the old railroad bed that once crossed the creek in the late 1870s or early 1880s long before Mostetler Road was built. The railroad was built by an unknown logging company to help transport logs, maybe to the railroad that once ran along the grade I originally walked in on. It’s cool to find logs still there from 140 years ag and it makes one wonder what else is in that creek or around it. Maybe some evidence of the town of Mosteller. Maybe evidence of the men who worked the camps. Maybe the bleached bones of a hiker who tried walk the creek. In any event, they aren’t mine. Not this time, anyway.
Note: Mostetler is a misspelling of the name Mosteller. Sometime a couple decades ago, someone mistakenly transcribed Mosteller as Mostetler and gave that name to the road.