Ice Age Trail 2013

  • Re-entry (10/11/2013) - So here I am, five days post-trek. What's it been like? Well, the first afternoon back I had to go grocery shopping, as my husband doesn't eat much more than frozen pizzas or sandwiches when I'm gone. Not to be melodramatic, but it was kind of overwhelming and stressful.
  • My IAT adventure by the numbers (10/8/2013) - I previously talked about how I wasn't counting anything during my trek -- miles down, miles to go, segments completed, counties passed through, etc. It seemed too overwhelming. Now that I'm finished, it seems fun. So here are some figures to consider:
  • Last Day! Forestville, Sturgeon Bay (10/6/2013) - This was a great last day. The forecast called for rain until about 9 a.m., then sunshine. I wanted to leave at 8 a.m., but it was raining pretty steadily then and I figured it wasn't smart to get soaked right off the bat, so I waited until about 8:45, when the rain had subsided to a light drizzle. Headed out of Algoma and onto the Ahnapee State Trail.
  • Day 36: Connecting Route, Kewaunee River, Connecting Route (10/5/2013) - I'm like a horse smelling the hay in the barn, or whatever that saying is. Today they were predicting a 50% chance of rain all morning, then a 70-80% chance of thunderstorms all afternoon. Not good. I was pretty lucky, though.
  • Day 35: Point Beach, Mishicot, Tisch Mills, Connecting Route (10/4/2013) - Into every life, a little rain must fall ... Last night, we had rain. Today's forecast was for a 50% chance of rain all day. This time I didn't avoid it. I finished the Point Beach section without rain.
  • Day 34: Connecting Route, Manitowoc, Dunes, Two Rivers, Point Beach (10/3/2013) - Today they were predicting a 50% chance of rain all day, so I figured I'd get sprinkled on at least half the day. My luck held out. It sprinkled as Mom and Dad drove me to the spot where I'd stopped last night, then stopped completely.
  • Day 33: Greenbush, La Budde Creek, Connecting Route (10/2/2013) - Enough with the heat already! Phew. Had to get that out of my system. Another uncomfortable day in the 70s with full sun. Lots of water dumps on my head and muttered curses. I'm actually looking forward to the rain predicted for the next few days. Or so I say now.
  • Day 32: West Bend, Southern Kewaskum, Kewaskum, Milwaukee River, Parnell (10/1/2013) - Before I get into today’s hike/run, I promised to discuss food. Food is critical to long-distance efforts. Everyone develops her own system as to what works. I like to start off my day with peanut butter and jelly on toast, plus coffee. During the day I eat mainly energy bars and similar products, with a pre-packaged peanut butter and jelly “Uncrustable” for lunch (great source of protein, carbs and fat). But that alone won’t cut it. I need treats, too. My favorite? Seroogy’s meltaways.
  • Day 31: Monches, Lowe Lake, Holy Hill, Pike Lake, Slinger, Cedar Lakes, West Bend (9/30/2013) - My sister-in-law, Paula Moore, was my crew today. It was great because we'd been at Paula's lake house this past 4th of July, and hiked part of the Monches segment. Today I started at Monches. All I remember of it during the 4th weekend was that it was really hot out (90s), and the trail was full of mosquitoes. Today I saw it in a different light. It's a gorgeous trail with great woodsy sections, water features and bridges.
  • Day 30: Scuppernong, Waterville, Lapham Peak, Delafield, Hartland, Merton (9/29/2013) - Do you get hangnails when you do long-distance hikes? I rarely get them, but I've got a gazillion now. Must be the Ice Age Trail. That's what I say. Today I started on the Scuppernong segment (love that name). I don't believe horses are allowed on it, but there were horse apples everywhere. The bulk of the trail was a bit tough for running -- lots of steep hills and rocks -- but the last part was quite nice. 
  • Day 29: Connecting Route, Whitewater Lake, Blackhawk, Blue Spring Lake, Stony Ridge, Eagle (9/28/2013) - Another hot, windy day, with temps around 80. That's too hot for running/hiking. Optimal temps are more like 55-65. But I'm not complaining (too much). Better that than rain.
  • Day 28: Devil’s Staircase, Janesville, Milton, Storr’s Lake, Connecting Route, Clover Valley (9/27/2013) - JANESVILLE, BABY! Today was so exciting because I'm officially headed north now. I started the day on the intriguingly-named "Devil's Staircase," a very technical trail clinging to the side of a steep bluff along the Rock River. You need to watch your footing, but the views are gorgeous.
  • Day 27: Monticello, Albany, Connecting Route, Arbor Ridge (9/26/2013) - Today was epic for many reasons. First, I ended the day by doing the Arbor Ridge segment, which runs through the Robert O. Cook Memorial Arboretum in Janesville. Did you hear what I said? JANESVILLE! I am now at the end of the second main "segment" of the IAT, and about to embark on my final push north to Sturgeon Bay. WOO HOO!
  • Day 26: Valley View, Madison, Verona, Montrose, Brooklyn Wildlife (9/25/2013) - Today runner friends John Selbo and Ann Heaslett were my crew members. We had a great day! Most of the day was spent on the trails, which is always a good thing. I had John or Ann with me on almost every segment.
  • Day 25: Connecting Routes, Indian Lake, Table Bluff, City of Cross Plains (9/24/2013) - Today was Alison's last day crewing me. She came with my mom, who was doing a ride-along -- scoping out how to be a crew person before she and my dad help me next week. (It was ironic, since Alison is a Madison police officer and offers more traditional ride-alongs.) Alison brought me all sorts of treats/trail magic, some which she offered me, others which she slipped into my bags -- everything from cold pizza (I love that while I'm on the trail) to candy to cappuccinos. You name it. Thanks, little sis!
  • Day 24: Devil’s Lake, Merrimac, Gibraltar, Groves-Pertzborn, City of Lodi, Eastern Lodi Marsh, Lodi Marsh (9/23/2013) - This was quite a day, characterized mainly by hills. It was fun to start in Devil’s Lake, since I’ve run and hiked almost all of the trails before, and Devil’s Lake is such a great state park (Wisconsin’s most popular, by the way). But Devil’s Lake is incredibly hilly, and my quads weren’t too happy, especially going up the West Bluff Trail and the Balanced Rock Trail.
  • Day 23: Connecting Route, Sauk Point (9/22/2013) - After a lovely night in a Spring Brook condo in the Dells, I had to make another visit to Urgent Care this morning. Yep, another skin infection, this time on my other foot. I'm getting quite the collection of hospital bracelets, which Urgent Care centers make you wear. So more antibiotics, but I still walked today.
  • Day 22: Connecting Route, John Muir, Marquette Trail, Portage Canal (9/21/2013) - Ah, these blisters are so annoying! Today a very minor blister on my heel, which hasn’t bothered me at all before, decided it didn’t want to be encased in a running shoe. What to do? Luckily I had my Keen sandals with me. I wore them all day, even when running, and they performed admirably. My blister thanked them.
  • Day 21: Bohn Lake, Greenwood, Mecan River, Wedde Creek, Chaffee Creek,Connecting Route (9/20/2013) - Doug rejoined me as crew member today, and we had a wonderful day. Bohn Lake, Greenwood and Mecan River in particular were great trails: beautiful and highly runnable. There was one stretch in Mecan River, I believe, where the trail pops you out onto a gorgeous meadow. There were rolled hay bales dotting the field and the path for hikers was lined with waving grasses. Very cool.
  • Day 20: Hartman Creek, Emmons Creek, Connecting Route, Deerfield (9/19/2013) - Jason Dorgan took over as my crew member today. Jason is an IAT legend, and one of the reasons I'm hiking/running the Ice Age Trail. Jason ran it back in 2007 in an astounding 22 days. If I was Jason, I'd be almost finished now. I can't even begin to imagine how he did that.
  • Day 19: Connecting Route, New Hope/Iola Ski Hill, Connecting Route, Skunk and Foster Lakes, Waupaca River (9/18/2013) - We got some rain overnight, but nothing too bad. Phil Brinkman, a friend and fellow book club member, was my crew member today. He so kindly offered to bring me a treat, so I requested a scone. He brought a delicious raspberry one that I'm still dreaming about.
  • Day 18: Ringle, Connecting Route (9/17/2013) - I started off my day on the last bit of the Ringle segment. A lush, green carpet of soft moss unrolled before me in the forest. It was pretty cool to see, and definitely nice on the feet. The woods dump you out onto the Mountain Bay State Trail, a nice, flat, crushed limestone path. Again, really nice! I loved my experience in Marathon County. The trails were pretty and well-maintained, and chapter chair David Mix was very helpful and accommodating.
  • Day 17: Connecting Route, Plover River, Eau Claire Dells, Ringle (9/16/2013) - People often ask me if I'm afraid. Afraid to be alone for five weeks, afraid to be alone in the woods, afraid to be on the Ice Age Trail, I guess. No, I've never been afraid. Until today.
  • Day 16: Lumbercamp, Kettlebowl, Connecting Route (9/15/2013) - Today was a momentous day for a few reasons. Mainly, it marked the day I finally stopped marching east and began my dip down south to Janesville. If you look at a map of the Ice Age Trail, there are three main segments: the march east from St. Croix Falls to Antigo, the march south to Janesville and the march north to Sturgeon Bay. One main segment down, two to go! I'm also supposed to be heading into tamer trails, which will be much appreciated.
  • Day 15: Highland Lakes East, Old Railroad, Lumbercamp (9/14/2013) - Today started out with a connecting route of 4.5 miles. It was a beautiful run, and the weather was perfect. Highland Lakes East was strange. I entered on a wide service-type road, then was almost immediately turned into the woods, had to crash through bramble, and was dumped out on a road. Not at all what the map indicated, but there were markers galore pointing me there, and a big Ice Age Trail sign when I exited. However, there were no directional markers from there. What the heck?!
  • Day 14: Harrison Hills, Parrish Hills, Highland Lakes West (9/13/2013) - Today I bid adieu to Maura, which was sad. She was a great crew member. She got me to my first segment (the end of Harrison Hills), dropped some water for me at Parrish Hills, then headed home. My friend Doug was scheduled to arrive about 6 p.m. tonight.
  • Day 13: Underdown, Alta Junction, Harrison Hills (9/12/2013) - It was great having Maura with me on my “zero” day. I was bummed at having to take one, to say the least, but she made it fun. We rented “Admission” from Red Box, ate subs and just had a lot of laughs. We also stopped over at the home of Langlade County chapter heads Joe and Peg Jopek. What a nice couple! Joe showed me loads of photos of the upcoming segments in Langlade County, known to be confusing. He pointed out how this county signs the trail, the difference in ATV signs vs. Ice Age (they’re very similar), etc.
  • Day 12: Urgent Care (9/11/2013) - I hadn't planned on taking any rest days during this adventure, mainly because I have limited time available to hike. But last night I had a fever, and I think some of my blisters are infected. Ick! So today Maura and I are staying in our room at the Holiday Inn Express in Antigo (very nice, conveniently located and reasonably priced), waiting for the Urgent Care to open.
  • Day 11: Averill-Kelly, Turtle Creek, Grandfather Falls, Underdown (9/10/2013) - So far most of our lodging has been about an hour away. There just aren’t a wealth of places to stay near the trail up here. Today it only took us 25 minutes to get to the trailhead, so that was a luxury. Averill-Kelly features two creek crossings within the first mile-plus.
  • Day 10: Wood Lake, Timberland Wilderness, Camp 27, Newwood (9/9/2013) - Today was a bittersweet day. Ed, my hubby and star crewer, had to go back home. He’s been invaluable in helping me figure out the daily routine that works best for me, driving me around, lifting all the heavy suitcases, etc.
  • Day 9: Mondeaux Esker, East Lake, Rib Lake, Wood Lake (9/8/2013) - Happy Birthday to Me! I began my birthday with a pumpkin spice cappuccino from a Holiday gas station. Nothing like my fave Jack Frost Lattes from Sun Prairie’s Beans ‘n Cream, but it would have to do.
  • Day 8: Lake Eleven, Jerry Lake, Mondeaux Esker (9/7/2013) - Today dawned hot once again. Ugh. I can’t wait for the cooler weather to drift in. The bulk of the hike through Lake Eleven was just beautiful, and along an almost-perfect path, often soft pine needles.
  • Day 7: Connecting Route, Lake Eleven (9/6/2013) - The Ice Age Trail is only about half complete now, so to do a thru-hike you have to hike one segment, then walk or run to the next one along a “connecting route” if the next segment doesn’t directly follow.
  • Day 6: Chippewa Moraine, Harwood Lakes, Firth Lake, Chippewa River (9/5/2013) - Yesterday’s cold laser treatment definitely helped my tendonitis and knee. Dr. Lisa said it would be best to walk all day, and I give myself a ton of credit for doing just that. If you know runners, they like to run. And today I had one really prime trail, Chippewa Moraine (7.8 miles). All morning I felt like I had an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.
  • Day 5: Southern Blue Hills, Connecting Route (9/4/2013) - Today was easy, yet hard. Started with a short connecting road route to Southern Blue Hills. SBH was just lovely, despite some annoying mosquitoes and a few overgrown sections. But nothing like the previous days. We were closely watched by some cows in one area that passed through private land, but luckily they largely ignored us. Two snakes slithered across my path at one point; I was amazed at how fast they went.
  • Day 4: Tuscobia, Blueberry, Hemlock Creek, Northern Blue Hills (9/3/2013) - Again using phone, so just a short note. Tuscobia State Trail was like walking through a green tunnel -- trees arched overhead and the trail was mostly flat grass. Temps were 36 at the start, so the grass was wet and my feet got soaked immediately. About 8 miles in I changed shoes when I met Ed.
  • Day 3: Timberland Hills, Grassy Lake, Bear Lake (9/2/2013) - Have to use my phone again, so I'll be brief. Had my first ATV ride in Timberland Hills, when I was confused by blazes and an employee helped me out. Ed spotted a black bear in Grassy Lake and was so close he saw it blink. Hikers: Beware of Grassy and Bear Lake segments.
  • Day 2: Straight Lake, Straight River, Pine Lake, McKenzie Creek, Sand Creek (9/1/2013) - First, let me recap yesterday. Day 1 was hot, with temps reaching the 90s. I set out at 6:19 a.m. to beat the heat, or at least try. I only succeeded in beating it for a few hours.
  • Day 1 in brief (8/31/2013) - Working off my phone, so this will be short. Got an early start to beat the heat and got three segments done. Total mileage: 32. More tomorrow when I can use my laptop. Life is good.
  • Valderi (8/30/2013) - Call me Valderi. As in that catchy refrain from "The Happy Wanderer" -- Valderi, Valdera, Valderi, Valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, Valderi, Valdera, my knapsack on my back."
  • What’s in a name – Part II (8/29/2013) - When I first began reading about long-distance hiking, I filled my head with tales of the Appalachian Trail (AT). One of the aspects of thru-hiking the AT that really caught my fancy was the tradition of trail names. A trail name is a nickname hikers use instead of their real one. You can choose one yourself, but if you don't choose one quickly enough, one can be bestowed upon you. For better or for worse.
  • What’s in a Name? (8/28/2013) - Plenty. Every segment of the Ice Age Trail that's been created has a name. Part of the reason I'm so anxious to get started is to explore the segments with the most intriguing names. Like the Kettlebowl, Lumbercamp, Timberland Wilderness, Stony Ridge and Southern Blue Hills. All of those sound pretty rugged.
  • Traveling with my Buddy (8/27/2013) - These days, whenever I travel I've always got company: Buddy, the SATW traveling teddy. Much like that paper dude, Flat Stanley, Buddy goes with me whenever I leave home. He gets to explore interesting places all over the globe, takes lots of photos and writes about his experiences to kids in two classrooms.
  • Ticks, black bears and more ticks — oh my! (8/25/2013) - I never contemplated wildlife or insects when I decided to run the Ice Age Trail. Pretty stupid, I know. I mean, I'll be moving through lots of woods and wetlands, so obviously I'll be encountering ... things. On the Camino in Spain, I actually rarely saw wildlife.
  • Training for 1,200 miles (8/21/2013) - One common question I get is how I'm training for this trek. Well, I'm not. Sounds a bit reckless, so let me explain. I love to run, and go 10+ miles several times a week, so my body is used to distance. The days I don't run, I'm on the elliptical or pool running. I also take a core ball class every week, which helps with strength and balance, crucial on tricky creek crossings and the like.I've also run along the Vía de la Plata Camino in Spain many times, so I'm used to covering long distances day after day after day. Still, over time I've found these strategies to make my long-distance running much easier: 
  • Why am I doing this? (8/15/2013) - When people take on challenges, it’s often the result of many seemingly random events. One after another these events occur, silently weaving themselves together in your subconscious, until they take on a form you recognize. And can’t resist. A running buddy, Jason Dorgan, ran the Ice Age Trail back in 2007.
  • T minus 17 days (8/14/2013) - And so it begins. Final preparations for my latest adventure, "thru-running" Wisconsin's Ice Age National Scenic Trail.  Everyone is asking why I’m doing this. And a lot of people – Wisconsinites included – don’t even really know what the Ice Age Trail (IAT) is. I sure didn’t realize the extent of this great treasure of ours until I was deep into my preparations. So let me enlighten you.

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