Diving through mud holes, bounding over trails in tricked-out trucks and getting absolutely filthy. To some UCF students, this is a perfect weekend.
In the greater Orlando area, there are a handful of mudding spots UCF students where students can romp around in the mud to their heart's content. One mud hole, aptly named 520, is just off Colonial Drive and 520, roughly about 20 minutes from UCF where Colonial and 520 separate. Another spot is the Swamp Ghost mud hole on International Drive by Sea World.
At local mudholes, at least 50 people can be seen romping around at one time, said Chelsea Jankowski, a junior hospitality major who goes mudding two to three times per week. At larger events, that number jumps to 35,000 and above.
Jankowski has been to mud holes and major events alike, though she has been mudding with her family since she was young.
Mudding itself is essentially driving souped-up trucks, typically four wheelers or customized trucks, in and out of mud holes to see who can go through without getting stuck.
But don't try taking your sedan in the mud holes, she said. To survive the mud holes, you'll need a truck or a four-wheeler with dozens of modifications; large wheels, lift kits, off-road bumpers and wenches, to name a few.
Even more important than having the right equipment, she said going with the right group is crucial.
"If you want to get into it, get with the right people and go with them and see where they go," Jankowski said. "Once you have your friends you can go with, you can go with them every week."
One of these friends who she has found is Christina Thiebauth, a junior psychology major, who, like Jankowski, started mudding at a young age.
Thiebauth's first mudding experience — at the tender age of 10 — was a family affair, surrounded by cousins, aunts and uncles.
Thiebauth typically goes every weekend, with two or three people piled in a truck and anywhere from five to 50 people meeting out at the mud holes.
With all those people, she said "being able to hang out, drink and get [muddy] with all my friends" is the best part about mudding.
But don't just choose anyone to go with, Thiebauth said. Her biggest advice for would-be mudders is to find experienced people to go with so they can show you the ropes and will be as safe as possible.
But in and of itself mudding can be a huge adrenaline rush. But quite consequently, it also has a relaxing nature to it. Without a crowd and just among friends, Jankowski said she is able to let loose and not worry about anything but making it through the mud hole.
But at major mudding events that draw thousands of attendees, crowds are a given. One such event is the new Triple Canopy Ranch event in Lake Wales, roughly an hour and 40 minutes from the UCF campus. A much larger event, however, is a bit further away from campus in Punta Gorda.
For those willing to travel the two hours and 40 minutes to the mud hole, you'll see tens of thousands of people, Jankowski said, all ready to romp and ride around on the trails and mud holes.
At these events, trucks with enormous wheels, some larger than 64 inches, compete to make it the farthest through massive mud holes.
But mudding isn't just about getting dirty for the sake of it. Through mudding, Jankowski said she's learned about trust and teamwork, especially when it comes to towing trucks when they inevitably get stuck in the mud.
With wenches, a mudder can pull themselves out if they hitch a hook to a stable structure, such as a tree. But if a wench isn't at the ready, mudders must utilize their peers trucks to escape mudholes, typically by tying one truck to another for the free truck to pull the trapped one out of the hole.
"[I] have to trust someone if I'm going to hook my truck to another person's vehicle and potentially break something," Jankowski said. "If you don't trust someone, do you really want them towing your vehicle out of a big mud pit?"
Adam Rhodes is the Entertainment Editor at the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @byadamrhodes or email him at AdamR@CentralFloridaFuture.com.