Ice Age Trail 2015
- Valderi Returns (8/21/2015) - When I finished my thru-run/hike of the Ice Age Trail in October 2013, I knew it wasn't the end. The minute I touched the eastern terminus marker in Potawatomi State Park, I was seized with the desire to thru-hike the trail all over again, this time heading east to west. And I didn't want to wait a long time to do it, either.
- Day 1: Sturgeon Bay to Kewaunee (8/29/2015) - Almost two years to the day when I started my first thru-hike from St. Croix Falls, I find myself in Sturgeon Bay at the eastern terminus, where I ended, ready to start another thru-hike. I'm excited, yet worried. My previous hike was the experience of a lifetime, yet it was hard. I'm suddenly remembering all of the aches and pains at night. The blisters and sore muscles. The overwhelming fatigue. But I'm here now, and there's nothing to do but start walking.
- Day 2: Kewaunee to Tisch Mills (8/30/2015) - Today's goal was hiking/running from Kewaunee to Tisch Mills. Luckily, it was a decent day for hiking. It was cloudy/foggy when I headed out from Kewaunee in the morning, so I didn't get the best look at the Ahnapee State Trail (a rail-trail). Rats, because the section I was on is said to be some of the most scenic rail-trail in the state.
- Day 3: Tisch Mills to Manitowoc (8/31/2015) - Today's goal was hiking from Tisch Mills to Manitowoc. I started off the day getting shuttled by Bob Fay, a section-hiker I met on the trail in 2013. He's from Two Rivers and will be finishing the IAT later this year. Dolly McNulty also helped today, first getting my bags from Bob, and then taking me to a friend's place at the end of the day. You can't beat Trail Angels!
- Day 4: Manitowoc to Elkhart Lake (9/1/2015) - My trek from Manitowoc to Elkhart Lake might have been the most challenging day I've ever spent on the trail. I had 28-ish miles (45 km) on the road, heading from Manitowoc to La Budde Creek east of Elkhart Lake. The forecast, I thought, was for a high in the low 80s F. (27 C.). That's hot. At least for me, someone who melts when the temps rise above 78 F. (26 C.). And there's no shade the entire time.
- Day 5: Elkhart Lake to Kewaskum (9/2/2015) - The Northern Kettle in one day -- phew! Today my college friend and roommate, Mary Jo, took a day off to crew me. I started a mile or two shy of the Greenbush segment near Elkhart Lake. Then I rolled right through the Northern Kettle.
- Day 6: Kewaskum to Loew Lake (9/3/2015) - Every day on the trail brings some kind of adventure. Today my older daughter, Molly, was crewing me. We started out having a great time in Kewaskum (both segments), and then the start of West Bend. I had a craving for ice cream, and told Molly that the trail crossed a major road in the beginning, and that maybe there would be a McDonald's where we could get 49-cent cones.
- Day 7: Loew Lake to Waterville (9/4/2015) - My husband, Ed, took over today. It was supposed to be in the 90s again (boo), but cloudy all day. It was cloudy for the first hour or so, and then the sun came out when I hit the Merton segment and stayed out. Sigh. Two years ago I walked on the Bugline rail-trail when it was still being built; it was lumpy dirt. The real trail alongside was too overgrown to navigate. This time the rail-trail was beautiful, smooth blacktop, but the real trail was definitely navigable, so I chose the latter. During the hike, I ran into an IAT volunteer mowing the trail! I didn't get his name; he wasn't too talkative, likely due to the heat. But his photo is below. And yes, I thanked him for maintaining the trail for us! 🙂
- Day 8: Waterville to Blackhawk (9/5/2015) - Those of you who know me know I HATE hot weather. My favorite season is fall, then winter, and spring and summer are tied for last. Some say I should do my thru-hikes in spring, with its cool weather, but I guess I fear/hate ticks more than heat. Summer is out because of the heat and mosquitoes. Winter is out for obvious reasons. That leaves fall. Ideally, I'd hike in October. But I always have a work conference then, so I start in September and hope for cool weather.
- Day 9: Blackhawk to Janesville (9/6/2015) - Yes, another scorcher. But I decided to embrace the heat. I was actually lucky -- there was a fairly strong breeze all day that made the heat more bearable. Whitewater Lake was a beautiful segment, especially when traversed early in the day, when the heat wasn't so bad.
- Day 10: Janesville to Albany (9/7/2015) - Today was supposed to be a bit cooler – highs in the low 80s. Yay! I started midway through the Janesville segment and took a photo of myself at what I think is the southernmost part of the IAT. (It would be fun if the easternmost, northernmost and southernmost part of the trail were marked.) Then I began the climb back north!
- Day 11: Albany to Madison (9/8/2015) - Happy Birthday to me! I'm celebrating my second b-day on the IAT. Who would've thought?! In 2013, I started my b-day hiking the Mondeaux Esker. Today Ed dropped me off near the end of the Albany section on a rail-trail, then left for work. My parents were going to crew me the rest of the day. The first two hours were fine, and then it poured for about 20 minutes. Not too bad.
- Day 12: Madison to Springfield Corners (9/9/2015) - Started the day off in the middle of the Madison segment. When I got to the connecting route to Cross Plains, I tried a new path. In 2013, I hated the stretch along a road with a quarry; trucks were constantly coming and going, and it was loud, noisy and dusty. So I took a side road and then hiked on the railroad tracks into Cross Plains. Think I shaved about a mile off, too. Much nicer, although it's hard to hike on railroad tracks.
- Day 13: Springfield Corners to Groves-Pertzborn (9/10/2015) - I showed up at Unity's front door shortly after 7 a.m. The earliest I could be seen was 10:20. The doctor said I could have cellulitis once again, although this reddish, hot area on the bottom of my foot could just be damaged tissue from so much hiking. She wasn't sure, so she prescribed antibiotics just in case.
- Day 14: Groves-Pertzborn to Baraboo (9/11/2015) - Ed came on board to crew me through the weekend. The day was sunny and cool in the morning -- YES! We had a fantastic hike through the new Gibraltar segment. It's really quite stunning. I ran into a Thousand-Miler Wannabe there -- Annie Banani (sp?).
- Day 15: Western Bifurcation and Chaffee Creek to Bohn Lake (9/12/2015) - I'm generally a purist. If I'm going to thru-hike a trail, I like to hike it from one end to the other. No interruptions, no switching back and forth. But not this time.
- Day 16: Bohn Lake to Waupaca River (9/13/2015) - Started off the morning taking some photos with Randy Lennartz, an IATA member who likes to publicize the trail in Waushara County. Hope they turn out well!
- Day 17: Waupaca River to Rosholt (9/14/2015) - Started the day in the lovely Waupaca River segment. When I passed through in 2013 the cabin was locked. It was open today, so I peeked inside and signed the register.
- Day 18: Rosholt to Thornapple Creek (9/15/2015) - Today was hard. Very hard. It was hot out again -- 80s -- and I faced 20 miles on the road to start. A friend was helping me out, but I didn't ask for sufficient water drops. I didn't realize how hot I'd get, and how little shade there would be along the way. There is pretty much NO shade on County Highway Y going from Bevent to Hatley.
- Day 19: Thornapple Creek to Polar (9/16/2015) - I must have been quite dehydrated yesterday. Today was just as hot, but I had a great day, thanks in large part to my friend Peggy, who came up from Sun Prairie to crew me.
- Day 20: Kettlebowl to Old Railroad (9/17/2015) - Well, this day is one for the record books! My older sister, Sue, came up to help me today. I started just outside the Kettlebowl, then quickly entered. Two years ago every thru-hiker I met had gotten lost in the Kettlebowl. The Langlade County Chapter has done an amazing job re-marking its trails. There's no way you can get lost on any of them. Kettlebowl was pretty, although it began raining (pouring, actually) near the end, which wasn't fun.
- Day 21: Highland Lakes East through Parrish Hills (9/18/2015) - Today dawned sunny and beautiful. Trail angel and consummate IATA volunteer Joe Jopek drove me to the start of Highland Lakes East and dropped some water for me.
- Day 22: Parrish Hills to Tug Lake (9/19/2015) - I actually had a tiny bit of Parrish Hills to finish today, so I did that. Ran into a big group of ATVers roaring around the area. I really enjoyed Harrison Hills. The vast majority of it is so beautiful, and it's all well-marked. I was going to climb the tower until I realized you couldn’t climb it – and I was a bit glad. It's really tall, and I'm not a fan of heights.
- Day 23: Tug Lake to Averill-Kelly (9/20/2015) - Today was a historic day for me re: long-distance hiking. I like to just hike every day and not return home until I'm finished. But I decided to go home today because my husband and I purchased season tickets to a musical series playing at Madison's Overture Center. Tonight was "Newsies," the musical I most wanted to see. So I hiked an abbreviated day.
- Day 24: Western Bifurcation (9/21/2015) - When I originally hit the Western Bifurcation, I hiked the Baraboo segment to end one day. The next day, I hiked the last 12.5 miles of the bifurcation and continued on on the trails because I was having problems with a hot spot on the bottom of one foot (and possibly cellulitis) and wanted to be on trails. Now, back home, I drove back up to Baraboo and started in on the road segment.
- Day 25: Western Bifurcation (9/22/2015) - Drove back up to the bifurcation again, and hiked all day. Another pleasant day, although nothing too scenic or interesting. Once again amazing Tess drove all the way up there to shuttle me (and she'd been cutting weeds on the IAT south of Madison all day!). This time her treats included gourmet chocolates. Tess, you're the best!
- Day 26: Averill-Kelly to Wood Lake (9/23/2015) - My good friend, Doug – he's telling me to write "selfless hero" -- had planned to drive up for the next five days and join me. So I rode back up with him, starting at 5:30 a.m. We arrived at Averill-Kelly by 9 a.m. and I was back on the "real" trail again.
- Day 27: Wood Lake to Mondeaux Esker (9/24/2015) - It had rained overnight and so the trails in Wood Lake were pretty wet. That necessitated a shoe/sock change before Rib Lake. I know the IATA is working on a new trail in Rib Lake, but apparently you're not supposed to hike a small portion of the existing trail, which is still signed.
- Day 28: Mondeaux Esker to Lake Eleven (9/25/2015) - I love the western end of Mondeaux Esker. Had a great hike there this morning, then headed into Jerry Lake. The first part of Jerry Lake got off to a poor start. I was following the blazes, and then they stopped in this area where everything and nothing looked like it could be the trail. After bumbling around for a while in different directions and coming up with nothing, I hiked back out and skirted that initial section. After that, everything was perfectly marked.
- Day 29: Lake Eleven to Firth Lake (9/26/2015) - Today dawned sunny and warm. I started on a +20-mile connecting route to Cornell. It wasn't too bad. At one point an Amish buggy passed, with the young driver singing a lovely song. Since it was hot again, and I haven't had ice cream in a while, Doug got me a cone in Cornell. It was good, but not as good at that place in Slinger!
- Day 30: Firth Lake to Weyerhauser (9/27/2015) - Another gorgeous day on the trail. I had planned to finish my thru-hike today, but I'm several days behind schedule. So I have no one to crew me starting Monday. My hubby, Ed, drove my car up today so I'll have wheels the next few days, then rode back home with Doug. Then my son, Tim, crewed me for the day.
- Day 31: Weyerhauser to Hemlock Creek (9/28/2015) - I'd heard the Blue Hills were a bit overgrown and soggy, yet beautiful. One man also said there was a phenomenal beaver dam crossing. It had rained overnight, then again in the morning. So the trails were quite wet and flooded in many places. I've noticed in this northern tier that there seems to be much more beaver activity than in 2013. Many lakes and creeks have been dammed, and water levels are much, much higher than I recall from 2013.
- Day 32: Hemlock Creek to Grassy Lake (9/29/2015) - Today was the first beautiful hiking day, meaning sunny and cool (highs in the 50s). I started the day with the cute-but-short Blueberry segment, which I'd missed in 2013 (there wasn't good signage going west-east back then). It's just a sliver of trees in between Highway 8 and a gravel road, but it's fun to walk.
- Day 33: Grassy Lake to McKenzie Creek (9/30/2015) - Today's first segment was Timberland Hills, a ski area. There was some standing water here, but nothing too bad. I saw the famous mermaid carving, but I missed the skull nailed to the tree (maybe it's only visible hiking west-east). Saw a lot of deer here, and they were running away faster than any deer I've ever seen. Most stare at you a bit, then scamper away. These acted like I was shooting at them.
- Day 34: McKenzie Creek to Centuria (10/1/2015) - Today was another beautiful sunny, cool day. I love the fall! Began the day hiking the last part of McKenzie Creek, which was just as lovely as the prior sections. From there I moved into Pine Lake and then Straight River; I think it was in the latter where I had one misstep when I picked my way across a swampy area only to find no blazes or trail.
- Day 35: Centuria to the Western Terminus! (10/2/2015) - This morning I met the Gray Ghost at the small parking lot near the Pothole Trail, on which the western terminus marker lies. We dropped my car, and then he took me to Centuria and I was off.