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Despite Your Childhood Fears, You Don’t Need to Worry About Quicksand While Hiking

If you grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, there’s a good chance that, at some point, the hero had to brave quicksand. The premise is nothing new. Everything from Looney Tunes to the cartoons of the ‘90s had characters getting trapped and slowly sinking into the mud. Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about quicksand while hiking. At least not much.

Despite the facts, the fascination with quicksand doesn’t seem to be going away.

Recently, a hiker shared this clip as she jokingly took on her “childhood fear” of quicksand. 

In the video, Kate Jaquith explains how to get out of quicksand, which is basically to remain calm and keep moving. Use a stick or have someone pull you out if you’re actually stuck. 

What is Quicksand?

While you don’t need to have a fear of quicksand, as the video shows, it is a real thing. According to a post from Scientific America, quicksand is sand and water mixed together. While it’ll look solid, the sand is further apart from the normal earth, so your foot goes down when you step on it. 

Darrel G.F. Long, a sedimentologist at Laurentian University, wrote the post. He says quicksand usually occurs near natural springs, riverbanks, or during low tide. 

“Quicksand does occur in deserts, but only very rarely: where loosely packed sands occur, such as on the down-wind sides of dunes, the amount of sinking is limited to a few centimeters because once the air in the voids is expelled, the grains are too densely packed to allow further compaction,” Long wrote in the post.

Has Anyone Died from Quicksand?

Actual deaths from quicksand are extremely rare, to the point where it’s close to non-existent. However, there are cases related to quicksand. For instance, a man in San Antonio, Texas, drowned after becoming trapped in quicksand along a river. This 2015 incident was the only recently reported death related to quicksand in the state of Texas.

In most cases, once your foot enters the quicksand, it compresses the gaps between the water and sand, making you feel like you’re on solid ground again. That is other than your ankle getting caked in mud.

Wilderness professionals recommend that anyone outdoors have items like proper footwear to keep everyone safe while hiking.

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  1. This isn’t exactly true. While you don’t usually sink super high into quicksand when you find it, it can still trap you and cut off the circulation in your legs.

  2. My neighbor was the daughter of a park ranger in Moab and Mesa Verde. Every time it rained they had a large area of quick sand that even a sign would not warn people away from. Her father had to get a truck to pull out at least one vehicle whose owner thought he could drive thru it, but instead it sunk the whole front end.

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