Down and dirty in Fundy mud

Pretend you’re a seal, an otter, a salamander

Wendy Elliott
Published on August 31, 2010


Kings County Advertiser/Register

We thought we invented mud sliding – until we ran into another family covered in Minas Basin mud being filmed by Wolfville filmmaker Hubert Schuurman.

Perhaps this form of mud lusciousness is as old as childhood.

It is unquestionably dirtier than mud pies, a unique summer time activity along the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy where humans act like seals.

Plans must be carefully laid before the carefree abandon starts.

First, check tide times for a low tide coming mid-day – that way, the water warms as it creeps in across the flats.

If the sun is shining, dress carefully in old shorts and T-shirts you don't mind ruining with fine, silty mud. Frenchies garments are perfect: you don’t mind pitching them afterward, as the mud will not come out.

Then, pick your beach. We tend to slide near the mouth of the Habitant River, east of Canning, or the Gaspereau River off Avonport beach.

Leave your shoes above the high tide mark! There is no point in wearing them: the thick mud will suck them right off your feet after you traipse through the eelgrass.

The ideal time to go is half-an-hour after low tide, which allows for about two hours of sliding. Remember when you hit the mud flats to monitor the progress of the tide. There are no lifeguards and first-timers are always surprised the tide comes in as fast as you can walk.

Just as tubing on the Gaspereau is not for little kiddies, this is not an activity for young children. Ours were probably eight or 10 the first time they skated across mud so slick they could slide.

After you walk out a distance and savour the feeling of globs of mud oozing between your toes, look for the riverbed and small channels of water coming in. Splash water up on the mud bank.

Then, slide.

A Halifax visitor, Jim Fowler, says he loved simply making his way to the water.

“For me, a welcome devolution: I began as an upright, uptight hominid and ended up squirming my way along the puddles and rivulets of the final stretch like a mesozoic mudskipper.”

If you liked playing in mud puddles as a toddler, you will love diving into muddy channels. Pretend you are an otter. Very soon, you are proud of looking like someone having a full body, spa-style mud bath.

Another Halifax visitor, Kathryn MacLellan, says she enjoyed the sheer physicality of the sliding, the hysterical bonding of the group and beauty of the place.

Like most people, Fowler thought he was entering a unique environment: 50 square miles of slippery mud.

“The whole experience had me feeling like I was in a place outside of time. There's a unique sound quality out there on the flats, like an old Star Trek overdub.”

After flinging your body in the brown water and liquid sand, you will be coated in chocolate-coloured mud. Do your best to wash off it before heading back to shore. Caked mud seems to attract pesky horse flies.

Fowler adds mud sliding is also quite a good work out.

“Walking/ salamandering across many metres of mud and swimming against the heavy current - my whole body felt it the next day.”

Looking back, he doesn’t remember the muckiness.

“It was the kind of day that could sneak up on you years from now and make you ask, ‘was that a dream?’ That's when you look down at the barnacle scar on your belly and you know for a fact you were indeed that awesome.”

All in all he calls mud sliding, “incredibly fun.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat!”