Ice Age Trail 2013

  • 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.
  • Why am I doing this? (8/15/2013) - When people take on challenges like a thru-hike, 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.
  • Training for 1200 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.
  • Ticks, black bears and more ticks – oh my! (8/25/2013) - I never contemplated wildlife or insects such as ticks 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.
  • 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.
  • What’s in a Name? (8/28/2013) - There's that famous line in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" – "What's in a name?" Well, plenty. First, every segment of the Ice Age Trail that's been created has a name. And part of the reason I'm so anxious to get started is to explore the segments with the most intriguing names.
  • What’s in a Name – Part II (8/29/2013) - Yes, there's a Part II to the topic of names! 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.
  • 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." After I made my last post about being bad at names, this one instantly came to me. And it's perfect.
  • Day 1: St. Croix Falls to Straight Lake (8/31/2013) - Day 1 starting from St. Croix Falls was hot, with temps reaching the 90s. It was also super humid. I set out at 6:19 a.m. to beat the heat, or at least try to. As I was trotting off from the western terminus marker, which is a plaque affixed to a boulder, I passed three men in running attire heading toward the start.
  • Day 2: Straight Lake, Straight River, Pine Lake, McKenzie Creek, Sand Creek (9/1/2013) - Little did I know what was going to happen on today's trek, especially on the McKenzie Creek segment. So, today was a bit harder. This wasn't surprising, since it was Day 2 and I was sore from Day 1. But mostly it was difficult because the trails I tackled today were quite overgrown, save for the first one, Straight Lake, which was quite enjoyable.
  • Day 3: Timberland Hills, Grassy Lake, Bear Lake (9/2/2013) - Little did I know at the start of the day that my final segment, Bear Lake, would be a doozy. I'll have to be somewhat brief, though, because I'm using my phone again to make this entry. So, I started my day with first ATV ride. I started hiking in Timberland Hills, when I was confused by the blazes and couldn't figure out which way to go.
  • Day 4: Tuscobia, Blueberry, Hemlock Creek, Northern Blue Hills (9/3/2013) - Today's hike began on the Tuscobia State Trail segment. The hike here was like walking through a green tunnel – trees arched overhead and the trail was mostly flat grass. Temps were 36 at the start, so it was chilly and the grass was really heavy with dew. Thus, my feet got soaked immediately. About eight miles in I changed shoes when I met Ed.
  • Day 5: Southern Blue Hills, Connecting Route (9/4/2013) - Today, en route to the Southern Blue Hills, was easy, yet hard. I started the day on a short, connecting road route to Southern Blue Hills. This segment turned out to be just lovely, despite some annoying mosquitoes and a few overgrown sections. But nothing as challenging as I faced during the previous days.
  • Day 6: Chippewa Moraine, Harwood Lakes, Firth Lake, Chippewa River (9/5/2013) - Today's schedule called for hiking from the Chippewa Moraine segment and through the Chippewa River segment. So, yesterday’s cold laser treatment definitely helped my tendonitis and knee. Dr. Lisa Tenold said it would be best to walk all day, and I give myself a ton of credit for doing just that.
  • Day 7: Connecting Route, Lake Eleven (9/6/2013) - Today's goal was to reach the Lake Eleven segment. So, the Ice Age Trail is only about half complete now. This means that to do a thru-hike, you have to hike one segment, then walk or run to the next one along a “connecting road route” if the next segment doesn’t directly follow.
  • Day 8: Lake Eleven, Jerry Lake, Mondeaux Esker (9/7/2013) - Today's goal: reaching the Mondeaux Esker segment. So, the day dawned hot once again. Ugh. I can’t wait for the cooler weather to drift in. It's not supposed to be this hot in September! At least, it never used to be so warm in September when I was a kid. But global warming has ruined my favorite (and birthday) month.
  • Day 9: Mondeaux Esker, East Lake, Rib Lake, Wood Lake (9/8/2013) - Today's goal is Wood Lake. But first – Happy Birthday to Me! I began my birthday with a pumpkin spice cappuccino from a Holiday gas station in Merrill. Nothing like my fave Jack Frost Lattes from Sun Prairie’s Beans ‘n Cream, but it would have to do.
  • Day 10: Wood Lake, Timberland Wilderness, Camp 27, Newwood (9/9/2013) - Today, heading to the Newwood segment, 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. But he was replaced by our younger daughter, Maura, so that was exciting.
  • Day 11: Averill-Kelly, Turtle Creek, Grandfather Falls, Underdown (9/10/2013) - I knew ahead of time that the highlight of today's hike was going to be Grandfather Falls, the highest waterfall on the Wisconsin River. I was excited to discover this gem. The day began with a nice, short drive to the trailhead – just 25 minutes. For the last few days, our lodging has been about an hour away.
  • Day 12: Urgent Care (9/11/2013) - I hadn't planned on taking any rest days during this adventure, and certainly never contemplated having to go to Urgent Care! But last night I woke up with a fever, and I fear 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 Antigo's one Urgent Care place to open.
  • Day 13: Underdown, Alta Junction, Harrison Hills (9/12/2013) - Thanks to my foot infection, today's goal was a modest 14 miles (22.5 km), going from Underdown to Harrison Hills. It was pretty nice, I have to admit. Maura and I got to sleep in a bit and enjoy the hotel breakfast. Starting later also meant the dew would burn off the grass so my feet wouldn’t get soaked immediately.
  • Day 14: Harrison Hills, Parrish Hills, Highland Lakes West (9/13/2013) - Today's destination is Highland Lakes West. The day started off a little sadly because I had to bid adieu to Maura. She was a great crew member. She got me to my first segment (the end of Harrison Hills), dropped some water for me in Parrish Hills, then headed home. Soon she'll be in NYC for her United Nations job.
  • Day 15: Highland Lakes East, Old Railroad, Lumbercamp (9/14/2013) - Today's journey toward the Lumbercamp segment started out with a connecting route of 4.5 miles (7.2 km). It made for 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.
  • Day 16: Lumbercamp, Kettlebowl, Connecting Route (9/15/2013) - Today was a momentous day because I'd be going through the Kettlebowl segment that all of the hiker's I'd met had warned me about. But today was a momentous day for a few other reasons. Mainly, it marked the day I finally stopped marching east and began my dip down south to Janesville.
  • Day 17: Connecting Route, Plover River, Eau Claire Dells, Ringle (9/16/2013) - Today's destination: Ringle. So, 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. Now, I'm largely out of bear country. I was a tad nervous about running into a bear before I began this adventure. But today I was reminded of what I truly fear: aggressive dogs.
  • Day 18: Ringle, Connecting Route (9/17/2013) - I started off my day on the last bit of the Ringle segment heading toward New Hope. 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 flat, crushed limestone path. Again, really nice! I loved my experience in Marathon County.
  • Day 19: Connecting Route, New Hope/Iola Ski Hill, Connecting Route, Skunk and Foster Lakes, Waupaca River (9/18/2013) - Today's goal was to make it through the Waupaca River segment. We'd gotten 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 20: Hartman Creek, Emmons Creek, Connecting Route, Deerfield (9/19/2013) - The Deerfield segment was my goal for today. Well, Jason Dorgan took over as my crew member this morning. And 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 and five hours, setting the Ice Age Trail's first fast-packing record.
  • 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 22: Connecting Route, John Muir, Marquette Trail, Portage Canal (9/21/2013) - Today's goal was to make it through Portage Canal along the Eastern Bifurcation. But 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 – sandals with a hole right where that blister was.
  • Day 23: Connecting Route, Sauk Point (9/22/2013) - Today's destination was making it through the Sauk Point segment. But that wasn't the original plan. You see, 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.
  • Day 24: Devil’s Lake, Merrimac, Gibraltar, Groves-Pertzborn, City of Lodi, Eastern Lodi Marsh, Lodi Marsh (9/23/2013) - Today my goal was to get through Lodi and its three trail segments. And it turned out to be quite the 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 here before. And Devil’s Lake is such a great state park – it's Wisconsin’s most popular.
  • Day 25: Connecting Routes, Indian Lake, Table Bluff, City of Cross Plains (9/24/2013) - Today was Alison's last day crewing me, and my goal was reaching Cross Plains. Alison brought along my mom, who was doing a ride-along of sorts. That is, she was scoping out how to be a crew person before she and my dad help me next week. (It was rather ironic, since Alison is a Madison police officer and offers more traditional ride-alongs!)
  • Day 26: Valley View, Madison, Verona, Montrose, Brooklyn Wildlife (9/25/2013) - Today runner friends John Selbo and Ann Heaslett were my crew members as I made my way to the Brooklyn Wildlife segment. 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. Valley View started in between two enormous homes. It was quite easy to miss the trail if you weren't looking closely.
  • Day 27: Monticello, Albany, Connecting Route, Arbor Ridge (9/26/2013) - Today's run/hike to and through the Arbor Ridge segment was epic for many reasons. First, I ended the day finishing Arbor Ridge, 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 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 29: Connecting Route, Whitewater Lake, Blackhawk, Blue Spring Lake, Stony Ridge, Eagle (9/28/2013) - Today's goal: the Eagle segment. It was another hot, windy day, with temps around 80 F (27 C). That's too hot for running/hiking. Optimal temps are more like 55-65 F (13-18 C). But I'm not complaining (too much). Better that than rain. So my hike started with a short connecting route, which passed this cool, old well called the Flowing Well.
  • Day 30: Scuppernong, Waterville, Lapham Peak, Delafield, Hartland, Merton (9/29/2013) - Today my goal was to complete the Merton segment south of Holy Hill. I began 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 31: Monches, Loew Lake, Holy Hill, Pike Lake, Slinger, Cedar Lakes, West Bend (9/30/2013) - Today's destination was West Bend. My sister-in-law, Paula Moore, was my crew today. It was fun because we'd been at Paula's lake house this past 4th of July for a family reunion, and we'd hiked part of the Monches segment. Well, today I was starting at Monches!
  • 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 33: Greenbush, La Budde Creek, Connecting Route (10/2/2013) - Today's goal was to make it through, and beyond, La Budde Creek in Elkhart Lake. But let me first say this.  Enough with the heat already! Phew. Had to get that out of my system. It was another uncomfortable day in the 70s F (low 20s C) with full sun. Lots of water dumps on my head and muttered curses.
  • Day 34: Connecting Route, Manitowoc, Dunes, Two Rivers, Point Beach (10/3/2013) - Today, en route to Point Beach, they were predicting a 50 percent chance of rain all day. So I figured I'd get sprinkled on at some point. But my luck held out. It sprinkled as Mom and Dad drove me to the spot where I'd stopped last night. This was in front of a farm in the middle of a connecting route. But once we arrived, it stopped completely.
  • Day 35: Point Beach, Mishicot, Tisch Mills, Connecting Route (10/4/2013) - Today's goal was getting in a lot of miles on the connecting route after the Tisch Mills segment. The motto for the day became, "Into every life, a little rain must fall." So last night, we had rain. Today's forecast was once again a 50 percent chance of rain all day. But today, my luck ran out. I finished the Point Beach section without rain.
  • Day 36: Connecting Route, Kewaunee River, Connecting Route (10/5/2013) - Today's goal was to get through Kewaunee and a little past Algoma. When I started out, I had such energy. That's because I'm like a horse smelling the hay in the barn, or whatever that saying is! But I digress. The day's forecast was a 50 percent chance of rain all morning, then a 70 to 80 percent chance of thunderstorms all afternoon. Not good. I was pretty lucky, though.
  • Last Day! Forestville, Sturgeon Bay (10/6/2013) - Today's itinerary: pass through Forestville, then Sturgeon Bay, then hit the eastern terminus! Boy, was it a great last day. The forecast called for rain until about 9 a.m., then sunshine. Although I wanted to leave at 8 a.m., it was raining pretty steadily then and I figured it wasn't smart to get soaked right off the bat.
  • My IAT adventure by the numbers (10/8/2013) - I previously talked about how I wasn't counting anything during my Ice Age Trail 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.
  • 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.

 

 

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