From August 14 to October 30, 2014, I hiked the Ice Age Trail and chronicled the journey through photos posted to a blog.
What this is: a visual smattering of things I saw and experienced on the Ice Age Trail.
What this is not: a comprehensive story, day-by-day mileage accounts, or recommendations.
Be aware: Most of this page was copied from another site I was using. So it’s wonky. I know.
I decided to hike the IAT on a whim. I was on a train going through Wisconsin and I couldn’t get this crazy idea out of my head.
The Ice Age Trail had been on my to-hike list for awhile. The thing is, it was always towards the bottom of the list. I figured I’d save it for when my knees give out and I am no longer able to climb mountains. But I didn’t have the time or money to hike the Pacific Crest or Continental Divide Trails; the Ice Age Trail involved much smaller time and money commitments. And, for whatever reason, I felt very called to do it now.
I ordered my guidebook in late July and planned to hike parts (maybe all) of the trail that August, September, and October. I’d had a rough year in pretty much every aspect, and I don’t want to get my hopes up so I decided that I would hike until I was done hiking. That happened at the western terminus, but I would have felt okay if I hadn’t made it.
AUGUST 14, 2014
Beginning and an end:
Within an hour of starting the hike and saying goodbye to Mother & crew, I had the biggest surprise: two thruhikers finishing their journey. I am so inspired by these two! Natalie and Briana started in June. Natalie worked in Alaska with my friends (from Camp McDowell in Alabama) Pecor and Kopnicky. I cannot even believe how small both the environmental education and trail worlds are. How unbelievable to have met these two. I have been smiling ever since.
Rush hour on the Ahnapee
I took a long break here after I realized I had been going 3.5mph. That is too fast for my first full day. Gotta take IATA’s Matt’s advice and chill a little in the beginning.
I will also gladly take this advice.
Some nice scenery along the trail so far.
Miles total: 21.2
Not bad miles considering I stopped for an hour to write postcards, another hour to lay around, two half-hour snack breaks/additional laying around, 45 minutes lunch & beer in Maplewood, and a general moseying all day long. Miles on this trail are not the issue: camping is.
3 miles done before 8 and I even slept in this morning. Looks like storms are coming so I am going to hustle 6 more miles over to Ellisville and take refuge at the bar. Good life plan.
On my way into Ellisville this morning, hot and running out of water, I happened upon this church. It was unlocked and when I went inside, organ music was playing to an empty building. I saw the woman practicing for tomorrow, presumably, and I refilled a water bottle and sat and listened. In her own world surrounded by sound, the lady never saw me but I left her a note to thank her for the music. What an uplifting break that was.
Roughin’ it on the Ice Age Trail. Huge thanks to Gator at Janda’s for being so hiker friendly! This makes the drizzly day so much more worthwhile!
The church is the most beautiful I have ever seen in the USA. I wish my phone’s camera wasn’t awful.
My two Mishicot trail angels, Dolores and Michelle! Michelle is letting me crash on her lot in town tonight which is amazing because I can’t make it 5 more miles to public land. Dolores was the first person I met in town. She is a hoot and set the whole thing up. Can’t thank you both enough!
August 19, 2014
Dolly is a trail angel and trail volunteer who coordinates the IAT’s Cold Cache program. It is like geocaching only cooler.
All last night it stormed and all last night I was snug in her spare bedroom, clean and dry and well-fed and probably snoring. It was a well-timed sanity break and I can’t thank her enough for all she does! What a great introduction to Two Rivers!
This is my beautiful view from the yard of Sue and Bob, who were kind enough to let me camp out tonight. My phone’s camera doesn’t do it justice. I feel so lucky to be here, especially because in-town camping was all sold out due to the fair. I kept on walking, hoping there was some camping option not on my map (hey, you never know). I stopped in and asked Sue about it and here I am. I even got some homemade bread! What amazing trail angels! Thank you so much!
After doing the math, I realized I only (“only”) went 17.5 today, but it was a busy 17.5 with lots to see in Two Rivers and Manitowoc, a mosquito run/berry fest in the Dunes Section, and getting lost in Schuette Park (after which I took a looong break). A very full day and I will sleep well tonight.
Very grateful for all the kindness shown towards me. It’s always the people more than the trail itself that I remember most.
Ice cream for 2nd breakfast? Suuuure. So glad Pine River Dairy opened at 8! 25 cent scoops of ice cream and 250 kinds of cheese. I bought olive cheddar to power me through some loooong miles today.
August 21, 2014
3 counties down (Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc)
12 million mosquitoes (only near Two Rivers)
1 day of rain
1 night of rain
1 blistering sunburn
10 liquid refreshments
1 night inside
1 night camped behind a bar
1 legit half-day
August 23, 2014
Camping at the Sheboygan Marsh Park… Let me just say that they need to seriously rethink their campground. They lived up to their name.
…everything I own is wet. The worst $20 I ever spent.
I guess it was not a worthy detour.
So grateful for pumps. I have not yet needed to get water from a stream or pond. Weird!
Today was a very challenging 17 miles through Kettle Moraine. It is gorgeous and well-worth the work but the constant elevation change is exhausting. A lot of today reminded me of the Appalachian Trail in Massachusetts. Maybe it was the bugs.
…really, frost, anytime. I realize it’s August, but still. I need one good frost.
Awesome breakfast of pizza and ice cream at Parkview General Store. Nice long day planned and no rain yet!
Really awesome boardwalks on the Milwaukee River Segment. Nice job, volunteers!
August 25, 2014
Well I woke up and the humidity was so heavy I almost choked on it. I walked into West Bend and ate an awesome breakfast at Perkin’s. They were so nice to me even though I reeked. I mean, really really reeked. Ten minutes after I sat down it began to pour and the lightning was dramatic. I have a long, squirrelly roadwalk coming up and I definitely don’t want to do it in weather this bad. When I left Perkin’s the sky was lit up with bolts of lightning – five, six at a time. Uhhh. No thanks. I checked into a motel at 9 AM. This effectively destroys my plan to be in Hartland on the 27th but I am a weenie when it comes to lightning like this. I just took a shower and the whole time I could hear the crash of thunder over the noise of the shower. Yeah…this was the right decision.
August 26, 2014
I could not have asked for a nicer day. In fact, I almost felt like a balloon today, just bopping along above the trail, no pain, pleasantly zombified. I need more almost-days-off if it makes hiking this great.
I could smell and see autumn today… But just barely.
Huge thanks to Tony who gave me water on a particularly dry stretch. That took away the only stress du jour and I deeply appreciate it!
August 27, 2014
0% chance of rain, forecast said. 0%.
So for the first time all hike, I leave the rainfly off the tent to breathe in the night air. 0%.
Hello from Minnesota!
No, I didn’t finish the hike and no, I’m definitely not quitting — just off-trail for a pre-existing commitment I had back in Minneapolis. I will be heading back to the Ice Age Trail next week.
The past couple of days were incredible – absolutely perfect hiking days when everything falls into place and the world is glad to be alive. I put in faster miles than I am used to, but it felt great. Even on easy terrain it takes awhile to get trail legs, and mine have kicked in. I feel pretty antsy here in civilization right now, actually.
The segments of IAT north of Hartland are some of my favorites. The Loew Lake Segment felt like walking through Narnia. It had been hard to pick a favorite segment, but once I hit Loew Lake Segment, it was no longer difficult: I just felt at home there.
Woooo! I got The Trail Show stickers in the mail! On rough days, The Trail Show always gives me a couple extra miles. Thanks Disco, P.O.D., D-low & Mags!
It was worth delaying the hike a little bit to spend time with these four nuts: Sarah, Jon, Daniel, and Ben. They are pretty much my favorite people and I am lucky to be their aunt. Today was Ben’s 10th birthday, so we let him be on top of the pyramid. It was nice to bother them. That is what I do best.
I am so excited to return to Hartland. Will and Jeannie are helping me get home to the trail. Thank you!
Thank you to my first hiking buddy Phil AKA Hungry Creepster for getting me to the bus depot on this drizzly, gray day. No trip to Minnesota is complete without some high quality best friend time. Thanks for serving on my board of directors for so many years.
I can tell Phil misses long-distance hiking because he is eating trail food (bagels) in real life. 😉
September 4, 2014
Huge thanks to trail angel and Thousand Miler Will for picking me up at the bus station in Milwaukee last night and getting me to Hartland where I had left the trail. Thank you Will! It was so fun to hear about the Ozarks … Another dream!
In Hartland I am staying with Jeannie who is almoooossst done section-hiking the IAT with her husband. It was a rainy and thundery this morning and they suggested I slackpack today through Lapham Peak and spend another night at their home. It was too wonderful a thought to say no to: all my stuff will stay dry and I will be able to shower tonight and dry off all while still making forward progress.
Thank you so much, trail angels! it feels amazing to be home and it’s possible because of you.
So excited to be here!!!
What is awesome about this plaque?
Katie Fritz revisits Lapham Peak.
It smells like fall!
September 5, 2014
Happy that the rain let up!
I love the whole world right now… But especially whoever duct taped a doll to the IAT post. I have no idea why this is so hilarious to me. Maybe I need to get out more.
I wish I had words to describe the Eagle Segment. I wish I could get my real camera’s pictures online right now. But as Dad says, you can wish in one hand and something else in the other.
Today a storm threatened me all day but only a few rumbles reached me. Scuppernong was a challenging segment – like the Appalachian Trail in Virginia shrunk down to 5.6 miles. But then the Eagle Segment.
The Eagle Segment – it was like walking through the Dothraki Sea. Rainbow grass undulated in the wind. The sky was indigo, blue with storm, light beams shining through to highlight the oranges, purples, greens, and golds of the grasses. Giant oaks dotted the landscape, each branch larger than most trees in civilization. The yellow, white, and lavender flowers seemed determined to not give in to fall yet. And then the whole sky was black except for above my head the clouds parted and I walked in sunshine my last mile. No joke.
It was an okay day. 😉
Tomorrow I get to color in Waukesha County! Woohoo! I still have a buttload of counties to go but as of TODAY…
…I am 1/4 of the way to having only 100 miles left!
250+ down, only, uh, 850 to go?
September 6, 2014
This sign must exist for a reason:
The Stone Elephant is a very well-known landmark on the trail.
…Yeah, I’m gonna go with what I was told by a certain trail angel:
“You’d have to be stoned to see an elephant.”
Katie B loves a good glacial erratic.
While anti-graffiti on trails (LNT etc), I could not help but agree. Whale? Maybe I could see that without the use of drugs.
Yay I am in a new county so I am going to sit here in the grass and do nothing. 🙂
Au revoir Waukesha and farewell Jefferson… Hello Walworth.
Life is pretty good.
It was a really nice 20 miler today with a 2-hour swim break. Life is great on the IAT!
Best breakfast ever!!! Tomatoes and a melon. I actually will save the melon for lunch. Oh I can’t believe I am going to carry a melon… And not for the first time, either. Worth it!
Today was unexpectedly short: 12 or 13 easy miles. I called it a day upon reaching a camp spot (thank you Tess!) because I hurt my ankle today. I didn’t see a hole and I fell in. Oops. It’s nothing too severe and luckily it is my right ankle, which is stronger than my left (left ankle weakness a souvenir from the Great Eastern Trail). So I know it will bounce back and tomorrow I will be fine. Actually after some rest I already feel better but I am in a big no-camping gap so I will hang out tonight.
The only bummer is that I had planned to get through Janesville in one day and now I will be in the middle of the city at sundown. Ehhh. It will work out somehow.
I am super grateful to have had a day and a place to rest!
September 8, 2014
“Some great journey!” the Centipede said, limping across the room.
“I shall never be the same again,” murmured the Earthworm.
“Nor I,” the Ladybug said. “It’s taken years off my life.”
“But my dear friends!” cried the Old Green Grasshopper, “We are there!”
“Where?” they asked. “Where? Where is there?”
“I don’t know,” the Old Green Grasshopper said. “But I’ll bet it’s somewhere good.”
-James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
One of the most infamous sections of trail. Here it goes…
A chance encounter with trail angels:
I was walking along, wondering in the back of my mind where in Janesville I might sleep. There aren’t a whole lot of options and I really want to make some miles after my rest day yesterday. I heard voices coming down the trail and was surprised – and even more surprised to meet Lacey and Carly scoping this section out for a Girl Scout outing. Carly invited me to her house for the night which allows me to relax today and not worry about where I will sleep. Such a wonderful chance encounter and I am so grateful! My footsteps feel lighter as I walk towards town! Now I will fly towards Janesville. Thank you ladies for brightening the day!
Wild encounters on the IAT.
September 9, 2014
This is for my favorite niece Sarah. She really loves circuses and aspires to be accepted into one soon.
Southbound no more:
I love this sign because it actually isn’t on the Ice Age Trail.
I reached this spot yesterday. It is the southernmost area on the Ice Age Trail. From here on, I am getting closer to home as I hike north and then west. For the next really long time I will be going north. Even when the trail goes west or east or even south, I will be going north. Cool.
Yesterday I also hiked my first 25 mile day. Ever. The trail was really easy yesterday but that is still a long way to go. Whew. I think I still like 15-17 mile days best.
I met thruhiker Dick today! congratulations! you are almost there!
I am sitting in the ditch hanging out. I have been moving slow today. I could blame the heat, the long tedious roadwalk, or one lone blister, but it’s totally because I went too far yesterday. Luckily I have Tess’ chocolate that she brought me yesterday. Good stuff! thank you!
September 10, 2014
The weather is good.
The mosquitoes are awful.
I gotta keep moving. 🙂
Trail volunteers rule. Yesterday I met Larry on the Devils Staircase Segment. He was hard at work until I showed up to distract him! It was fun to chat and hear stories of his travels. He is a Thousand Miler and has volunteered 12 million hours to the Ice Age Trail. (okay, maybe not 12 million but I forget how many… A LOT!!!) Thank you for all you do!
September 11, 2014
The creepy tunnel:
Not totally excited about a 1200 foot tunnel with a curve in the middle. Total blackness.
Yeah… I never need to go through this tunnel again.
This segment does not exist anymore, I guess. It is not in my guide or on my maps but here are old signs. I wonder what its story is…
With the cooler weather I was not surprised to see this guy today.
The sun has been hiding all day and now it burst into my tent to say goodnight. 🙂
“I am not so old now as I was then. Every morning a bird brings me a fire-berry from the valleys in the Sun, and each fire-berry takes away a little of my age. And when I have become as young as the child that was born yesterday, then I shall take my rising again (for we are at earth’s eastern rim) and once more tread the great dance.”
“In our world,” said Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.
“Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of.”
-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CSLewis
September 12, 2014
Can’t wait to outrun the rain!
A cold wet day:
Before the rain really began, I put in about 7 miles. Some of that was without most of my stuff, as Tess magically showed up at the trailhead and offered to take it. She then drove north and hiked down to meet me on the Montrose segment. So fun to have company!
Then the 3 mile roadwalk was hellish despite pleasant enough roads. The rain, forecast for 11:00, came 2 hours early along with wind that was relentless. After half an hour I could not feel my fingers. This is hypothermia weather – 40s, wet, windy. Usually hiking keeps me warm enough but today I could not warm up.
And then poof! Tess showed up in the parking lot at the same time I did. We roadtripped to Cross Plains where I got my package of maps (thanks ma) and got to meet some of the awesome IATA folks. So grateful for all they do!
We went back to Tess’ where I took a hot shower, regained feeling in my toes, and fell asleep on the couch. Being inside right now is the biggest blessing. Thank you Tess!
September 13, 2014
Thanks Tess for everything! I really have loved this section so far!
Wolf Ridge Reunion:
I had an awesome visit with Ben today in the Madison segment. So did the mini Katies. Thank you for the mini-Wolf Ridge ELC reunion! It was really fun to share the trail. It turned the golf course into an adventure!
This is my view tonight as I go to sleep
… Not many more nights warm enough to go without my rainfly, perhaps. Enjoying it now.
September 14, 2014
Sometimes after I resupply I look at what I bought and wonder what I was thinking. Not pictured: apple ale.
Big fan of the Cross Plains Segment
September 16, 2014
It is too bright to read, but woohoo! Columbia County! 625 miles to go!
A bench with a view and a footrest? too good to be true!
Hanging out with “Infamous Angel” Joanna and Adonis (pictured in the water). I have been at her house for a night and will stay through tomorrow. Thank you so much! Enjoying this area has been a highlight of the trip!
September 17, 2014
Here it goes!
It’s a very Bovee birthday on the trail today. HBD KBB!
Maybe Pennsylvania’s Mid State Trail ought to consider a name change. Quick, before the IAT copyrights this!
I don’t know who has it better: me or the microscopic kayakers down there.
September 18, 2014
I had the most phenomenal few days of hiking. What is better than hiking the most dramatic segments of the trail on perfect days? doing it without a full backpack, then hanging out with good company, then taking a shower and sleeping in a bed, that’s what. I was so grateful to not have my full pack in the Devils Lake Segment – it was both beautiful and brutal. Can’t wait to come back. Huge, radiant thanks to Joanna and Adonis who made this whole section of trail so much more memorable and enjoyable!
September 19, 2014
I spent an hour here soaking my feet. Roadwalks force us to try to see the idyllic locations in the “real world” which is something I sure struggled with today. I’m pooped due to a too-friendly mouse who kept me up much of the night, so I am soon done for the day. An easy 16.5 feels so good after yesterday’s easy but long 22.5.
Sometimes I log on late at night to check the weather forecast (“late” = 9PM). Usually I regret it. Tonight, a big cheer and bigger hopes that it is right: storms should be over by 8AM. I think I will sleep in and avoid them. Here’s hoping! So far it is just crazy windy.
Hoping to get into Packwaukee tomorrow and onward several miles. No public land so… An adventure will be had.
September 20, 2014
I survived a pretty wicked storm last night. So did the skeeters. Hooray for my bug suit…
Johnny T’s is the place to be. Thanks Amanda!
September 21, 2014
What is better than trail after a mind-numbingly long roadwalk?
Getting to see my mama tomorrow! Woohoooo!
Shout out to Matt who made this morning’s walk much nicer. I appreciate it!
I was so preoccupied I forgot to get their names, but huge thanks to the couple on the road who directed me in the right direction. Thank you!
And onto Waushara County…
For my friend and trail advocate, King of the Kek, Martin. I actually did get to practice language arts today!
What are the chances that 2 IAT thruhikers traveling in opposite directions would meet at the halfway point?
Super excited to have spent the evening at Johann’s with Kathy. We reminisced about the Appalachian Trail and talked about all the people and places we’ve encountered. She has a fabulous adventure ahead of her. And so do I. The evening was SO. MUCH. FUN.
Is Johann’s the halfway point? Ehhh. It’s fuzzy math all around, but I am totally calling this halfway. BIG thanks to Johann for letting me camp in the woods.
An Amish (?) carriage just rolled by. Sweet.
September 22, 2014
Awesome mushroomy section!
After 550 miles total and 330 since my last day (ahem, week) off, I am taking a MUCH NEEDED zero day. Peace out, Ice Age Trail.
September 24, 2014
Today, alas, I said goodbye to Mom and the aunt brigade who came to party it up in Plover. We visited cranberry marshes, ate Chinese food, and spent a lot of time in the hot tub. My feet aren’t even gross anymore. I really needed that zero day!
Tonight I am camping amid yowlings of coyotes and owls’ songs.
September 25, 2014
The forest is all aglow on my way to Skunk & Foster Lakes Segment. This segment features Grenlie Lake too. Poor Grenlie, always left out of things.
Called an early day due to lack of camping options. Now I am sitting in my tent watching 12 billion mosquitoes try to find a way in. I got many bites today even in my bug suit. My consolation prize is that I saved my mom’s homemade cookies for today. Life is good! Thanks Ma!
Okay I was joking about the number of mosquitoes but I just counted 100 on my tent. 100 creatures who want to eat me. 100!
September 26, 2014
High quality spots to flop down and chill out on the Iola-New Hope Segment. This is one of the more hummocky sections so far. Good training for up north!
September 27, 2014
This place was a wonderful surprise for me. So glad they exist! Fully resupplied and rested, good conversation with Megan, and a bathroom. Life is good. 5 miles down today, 15 to go!
This is my patch of shade I finally found. I can’t believe it is this hot and buggy today. I am moving sloooooow.
September 29, 2014
Saturday night thoughts:
Every 20 miler should end at an ice-cold lake. I really enjoyed the extended evening at Mission Lake. I desperately needed it after frying all day on pavement. I cannot keep sunblock on when I am dripping wet with sweat. Ugh. Gross. So yeah, I really needed this lake.
Sunday night thoughts: I have been blessed with no cell service for a couple of days. I say “blessed” because without service, I cannot call a taxi to get me out of here.
Saturday was merely unpleasant – 20 miles on HOT roads dodging giant trucks. The truckers almost became my friends – one of them slowed down and offered me a raw potato. I declined, but the offer was..kind? I think he was serious.
Sunday, however, was rough. I had 10 miles left on roads and by 9AM I was dripping with sweat and blood from dead mosquitoes. I hung out in Hatley, expecting to put in another 10 miles but I hit the railtrail and it was a WALL of mosquitoes. I made it into the woods but not without significant loss of blood and sanity. When I set up my tent, no fewer than 85 mosquitoes got in. I counted! I can’t leave the tent or I will be attacked.
I am writing this Sunday night in the hopes that I survive the night and find service tomorrow. I will look back and laugh.
Monday thoughts: Oh, and while I am lamenting the return of the bloodsuckers I almost forgot to mention my attached deer tick. Insult to injury. That little sucker got the duct tape treatment. Also, the wound on my stomach is slowly oozing blood and my left ankle is throbbing from all the ditch-jumping and I ripped a giant hole in my shoe and a couple little holes in my tent. GREAT. So not having cell reception in Marathon County quite possibly has saved this trip.
Now that I have all my complaining out of the way, here is the positive (Um, kinda): the fall colors are lovely. I can’t enjoy them while being outside but today when I was in a convenience store paying too much for Little Debbies, I could look outside and see how nice the colors are. They are quite nice.
September 30, 2014
What an eventful county. No other county has thrown more at me than Marathon. From heat and bugs to icy cold rain, the weather has been completely bipolar. Marathon also has two of my favorite segments of trail: Dells of the Eau Claire and Plover River. Both are so beautiful and I hit them during peak leaf season. I am lucky.
Yesterday evening I was frigid after too much icy rain (and too much time spent trying to wait out the rain at a pavilion, bad move Jo) and I managed to make it near the Plover River trailhead. I curled up in my sleeping bag and shivered uncontrollably for hours. With no reception I was stuck, until I managed to get a message through to my friend Charles. He and I and Fritz hiked a section of IAT in 2011 and without that trip I would not be here today. And then he swooped in at 10PM like a knight in shining armor and I got a hot shower and a futon and company on my hike today. Wow! What a difference 24 hours can make. Thank you Charles for being my trail angel!!
October 1, 2014
It boggles my mind that I am on map 39 (started on 105) and that I have reached Langlade County. Wasn’t I in Hartland about a week ago? It has gone so fast.
Today is a rest day – a short jaunt into town. It is raining and I am seeing if it stops in the next hour. Last night was in the 40s but I was cozy in my sleeping bag.
Tomorrow might be a rest day too – I am killing time hoping to meet some friends at Grandfather Falls to hike Turtle Rock and Averill-Kelly with me, but in order for that to work I gotta slow down. This is a good time of the trip to slow down. Once I get closer to home I will start moving faster no matter what. My average per day that I need to hike is down to 13.8, so if I take a few short days I can easily make that up.
Looking forward to Langlade County!
One thing I love about the IAT is that hikers can choose their own adventures on connecting routes. Today I am detouring into Antigo and am so enjoying the backcountry roads I am taking to get there. It stopped raining and is a perfect overcast fall day. I love October!
Throwback Thursday? I forgot to post this aaages ago. This is the pond John Muir spent some years living near. The IAT does a loop around it. It was a little too cold to soak my feet but I tried! I think it’s really cool how the IAT is able to tie in cultural history in addition to its geologic focus.
October 2, 2014
This is what my room looks like after I packed up half my stuff. You should have seen before. Packsplosion 2014.
I woke up and spent several minutes packing before I realized that my intestinal distress that has been plaguing me for a few days has yet to go away. I feel great – except food is not my friend right now. I won’t go into details (you’re welcome) but I decided that I need a zero day to let this run its course. I could maybe deal with my, err, symptoms in the woods but on a roadwalk that is, uhh, awkward. I can at least keep food down. Yay.
The plus side: this sets me up to hike Kettlebowl Segment with a group hike on Saturday which would be so much fun. I hope it works out. (And Nimblewill Nomad might be around!!!)
More plus side: I needed to kill time anyway between here and Grandfather Falls. This is the best possible spot and time to have intestinal distress. I mean, I would gladly have a normal system right now, but if I had to deal with this… Now’s good.
October 3, 2014
As of today, I have 400 miles left of the Ice Age Trail.
I also have 4 weeks left until my imaginary deadline of Halloween.
Bets are now being taken as to when I will first see snow AND how many different snow events I will encounter in the next 4 weeks.
Huge, warm thanks to the Pruntys for their hospitality and friendship! It was a joy to have a dry, warm night and start to the day and such delicious meals. Thank you so much!
After pancakes with ultra-local maple syrup courtesy of the Prunty homesteaders, I headed out into the snow to meet up with an organized hike. 20 of us hiked the first 2 miles of Kettlebowl together and then I went off on my own and they turned around. It was fun to have company!
Two lovely trail angels today were Rita and Isabelle who hiked Kettlebowl southbound to run into me and then bring me back to town! Because of their help I was able to get to the 40th Anniversary Celebration for the Langlade County IAT Chapter. And I lucked out and got another night out of the cold. Thank you!
The celebration tonight was so much fun. I met some new folks, put faces to some names I knew (like Gray Ghost!), ate way too much good food, and was inspired by Nimblewill Nomad, who was everything I hoped he’d be.
It is going to be hard for any other county to compete with Langlade. It has been the most amazing experience.
You could say I jumped right into this the Lumbercamp Segment. It was a lot of fun and I only ended up sprawled out in the mud once, which is really amazing given the muddiness, slipperiness, and my general lack of coordination. What a great day so far!
A smile for Sourdough who helped talk me through my recent bowel malady. You will all (all 3 people who read the blog) be happy to know that my system is fully functional again. Not giardia. Woooooo.
The day couldn’t be nicer. I might even be able to hike in just 1 layer this afternoon.
Last night it rained or… Precipitated. It sounded a lot clumpier than rain. I felt pretty snug and smug under the roof of the shelter and tucked in my tent. Today there is not a cloud in the sky.
You know that rule about not taking candy from strangers? that rule does not apply on trails.
Thanks to Larry for the chat this afternoon – and then he left candy for me too! Wow. Such a nice surprise.
I am doing a 20. Why am I doing a 20? I can’t get ahead; I am meeting people on Friday. Oh well. Hi ho hi ho 1 more mile to go.
It really has been a perfect day.
Super awesome to have the location noted on the sign. I was 99% sure of my location, but it feels great to know 100%.
A pretty sweet campsite… I even kinda did laundry.
I was sad to leave Langlade County today but Lincoln is sure nice too. Langlade was the first county that felt WILD – like I could slip off the trail and disappear, in a good way. Lincoln has that same wildness about it. Can’t wait to hit Lookout Mountain tomorrow.
Also forecasted: no bugs!
I’ll take it.
In Two Rivers I bought a box of granola bars. This one has managed to be the least-appealing thing in my pack ever since. Two Rivers was forever ago. August.
Anyway, I have vowed that it is breakfast today.
Yesterday I met Greg the maintainer on the Harrison Hills segment. Volunteers are what keep this and every trail going. Without volunteers, your favorite trail would not exist. Huge thanks to everyone who has volunteered to make a trail happen.
The view from my tent is not particularly inspiring today. I only have a 10-mile day today so I am going to wait until the frost melts off my tent. It warmed up quickly yesterday and today looks like a carbon copy. Part of my Camelback froze solid! Woohoo.
Look at my wonderful friends! We are hiking eastbound for a couple days and having a wonderful time. 🙂
Fiskars and Alaina did a MARVELOUS job of resupplying for me in this food desert. They are basically brilliant. Thank you!!!! I think they will also deeply enjoy the pepperoni packaging that I just now noticed. 😀
I thought my phone ate some of my pictures but I just found them hidden in a different folder. Hurrah! Here is Dave mid-ford.
Well! It has been awhile. First I wasn’t updating due to no reception and then my phone died and then once I did get it charged I didn’t want to go through that again, so… It has been awhile. I am alive, Mom and Dad…
Taylor County: Memorable. Something new around every corner. But my toughest county, likely due to being already tired after Lincoln and Langlade.
The Chequamegon was beautiful and very, very wet. I want to return someday when it is less wet. Is it ever less wet? My shoes disintegrated from all the wetness but I will NOT buy new shoes this late in the journey…
Oh, I lost my first toenail of the trip in Taylor County! Left foot, 4th toe. No pain, it just kinda fell off.
And major props and badass points to any hikers who do the Taylor-Chippewa roadwalk in summer. I did not take the scenic route, perhaps that would make it more bearable.
Sent home my tshirt and bug suit, got gloves. Instantly it got hot again. Haha!
Chippewa County: I just left it. Never did a county fly past me so quickly. I blame dry feet. Seriously – I had almost entirely dry feet in Chippewa County. I had not gone a day without soaked feet since Marathon County. I could get used to this. Big miles are not nearly as painful with dry feet.
The Chippewa Moraine Segment may be in my top 5 segments. Or top 2. I liked the other segments but Chippewa Moraine feels like what the IAT is all about. The Visitor Center was super welcoming and very cool. I would hike this again. And despite the frigid cold I endured in Lincoln County, leaves are peaking here and it is GLORIOUS. One night I even had my rainfly off – haven’t done that since… Cross Plains? It has been a long time.
A couple days ago I had Pride and Prejudice stuck in my head and I couldn’t figure out why. Oohhh, I was on the Firth Lake Segment!
There was a terrifying stile in this county. Character-building.
I took so many pictures. None with my phone. I’ll do better in Rusk.
This is my supper – gummi bears and a good healthy dose of denial that I am on map 13.
(I had a huge lunch at a bar so gummi bears is supper enough… Also: breakfast/lunch in Weyerhaeuser!)
Trail after a long roadwalk… Priceless.
Being smart enough to not eat Zebra Cakes might also be priceless but I wouldn’t know. Ugh.
My campsite comes with a sketchy-looking boat. And a PICNIC TABLE. I am excited about one of these things.
Bears visited my campsite last night. I finally have a bear story! I said hello to them and they ran away. Happens when I talk to people too.
Steripen with sunset over lake in background… The Steripen is how I clean my water (UV light). It usually works. When it doesn’t, it becomes a Scaripen.
I went from peak leaf season to leaf-off in a couple of days. Boom. Can’t complain – I love leaf-off and I had brilliant colors from Antigo to Rusk County.
Rusk County rocks. Water, bathrooms, shelter, and outlets!!! I took a looong lunch break – until I started shivering. It’s a lovely day but not the kind where you want to be outside sitting still! I so appreciated this stop.
I came to this beautiful meadow (cough, full of milkweed) and I so wanted to spend the night here but I wasn’t sure where I was on the map so I pushed on. Just 5 minutes later I popped out at the edge of the segment (my end point for the day). I have never been so happy to backtrack 5 minutes. It’s an early day but it sets me up perfect for lunch in Brill tomorrow. Hikers…we plan ahead for important things like lunch! 🙂
…or I could hang out in Birchwood with a giant fish and avoid the forecasted all-night rain. Yeah. That sounds good.
A little foggy . . . the trail and my brain! something about civilization made me think it was okay to be on the phone til 2AM with my former hiking buddy Hillbilly Bart. At least I didn’t have to get up at 5 like he did. Heh.
Today is super exciting because I am meeting up with my first long distance hiking buddy Phil/Hungry Creepster. So nice to have company coming!
Awesome breakfast at the Red Brick Cafe with 2 of my most favorite people! Thanks Bovee and Phil for joining me on my hike!
Ugh, this picture didn’t turn out at all. I would have gotten a lot farther today if I hadn’t stopped for a 3 hour break at Dinger Lake to read a book. It was so sunny and beautiful and those perfect moments are little remaining now that I am nearly done. Today was the nicest weather forecast for the next week – upcoming days don’t look bad but perfect indian summer days to sunbathe may be done for the year. So I can’t regret a few perfect hours.
You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again, so why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen… When one can no longer see, one can at least still know. -R. Daumal
I had such a fun day hiking with Gray Ghost! It turned an otherwise blustery and cold day into a day of good trail stories and fantastic detours. I hope I have a trail resume as good as his someday. Huge thanks for the hike and for letting me crash at your place tonight! It would be pretty cold and yucky in a tent.
Had a great lunch at Cafe Wren! Dean came over and we visited. There was some map geekery involved. Charles and Fritzie and I camped on Dean’s beach in 2011 and he gave me an IAT sticker that found its way to my car and has taunted me ever since. So it is kind of Dean’s fault that I am here right now.
We also visited with the Westigards who live on-trail. So many IAT supporters around here! thanks everyone for all your efforts to improve and promote this great trail! And for your kindness to hikers!
Okay, I can’t zoom in so you will have to trust me: this is a hearse for sale outside of Centuria. I thought my dad would want to know. He used to have a hearse.
Map 1 deserves hot chocolate.
The saddest vending machine ever… Poor thing. Luckily I raided Gray Ghost’s collection of ClifBars this morning. 🙂
Gee thanks Phil for getting “Hold Me Closer, Gandy Dancer” stuck in my head.
The last segment of the IAT. I will finish tomorrow because why finish today?
That is Minnesota. Ha.
Morning on the river is pretty nice. The wind died down last night and I was warm and cozy… In 3 layers… But still warm and cozy. It sprinkled a little but just enough to wake me up briefly.
This morning is bittersweet… Under 8 miles to the end of this journey. As I sat at the picnic table by the lake feeling blue a swan swam by on the banks of Minnesota.
Thank you volunteers!
Nice rockwork Ben B and other volunteers!
More sweet rockwork!
Katie and Katie made it!
Mission accomplished. 🙂
My party at the terminus!
It has been a month since I finished the Ice Age Trail. A couple weeks ago, I finished this short slideshow about my trip.
A couple days ago I typed up my Hiker to Hiker notes.
Last night I finally finished putting together my Thousand Miler packet to mail off to the IATA.
And maybe today I’ll finish crossing thank-yous off my list. 🙂 I’ve been so grateful to everyone who helped me along the way. Writing thank-you postcards has been a monumental undertaking. I’ve been enjoying reliving the trip through the random acts of kindness I encountered.