Hiking Dude Blog
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Another Ice Age Trail hiker finished her trek today. See Kehly's Hike to read her story. Kehly started a bit before me and had some problems starting out. She persevered and completed the trail which is just super!
I got to meet Kehly on the trail in the Kettle Moraine which is a bit of a funny story.
While Papa Bear (PB) and I were on a rest day in West Bend, we checked Kehly's blog and saw she was hiking through the area a couple days behind us. PB has done some Trail Magic out on the Pacific Crest Trail and thought it would be cool to give Kehly some encouragement on her trek.
(Trail Magic happens when someone unknowningly gives aid to a hiker. Something like giving them food, a ride into town, or maybe even a night's rest in a real bed! I received just tons of trail magic on my Ice Age Trail hike from some wonderful people all over Wisconsin!)
We knew the general area where she'd be hiking and, in this area, the trail crosses various roads every 3 to 6 miles. We hopped in the car and headed out to the trailhead that we knew she could not possibly be past yet.
I got out and hiked up the trail to the next trailhead while PB drove around to that same trailhead. The hope was that I would run into Kehly on the trail.
No luck! After about 4 miles, I came to the trailhead with PB waiting in the car. I continued onto the next 3 mile stretch while he drove around to the next trailhead.
No luck! You get the picture? :-) So, I hiked on while PB drove on.
But, this time, just as I walked over a hill and around a corner, I saw someone hiking up the incline towards me, forging ahead with her head down and a determined stride.
When I called out 'Howdy!', she literally jumped a bit. :-) I guess it was startling to hear an unexpected voice when you think you're all alone. Kehly had seen my blog and thought we were far ahead of her, so she was quite surprised when I told her who I was and explained we were taking a day off. But, I hope the cold lemonade I gave her helped her believe I wasn't some weirdo on the trail.
We chatted a bit and hiked her direction to the trailhead where I left her to continue on while I hiked back to the next trailhead to find PB. Our hope was to meet her down the trail at the next crossing so PB could say 'HI' and encourage her.
Unfortunately, either Kehly hiked very fast or we were impatient. I found PB, drove to a trailhead we figured Kehly could not have passed, and waited. And waited. But, we never did see her again so PB didn't get to meet her.
At least I got to do a little trail magic, even though it may have been more mysterious than magic to the hiker.
End of the Trail
I walked 30500 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 23 miles today.
We slogged our way to the western terminus!!! A few pictures and congratulations, and then into the Ice Age center to get out of the cold rain. I guess the directions for the parade got lost - no one showed up except my good friend Duncan. What a great surprise to be greeted by him at the very end!
We ran into some volunteers doing trail work and actually got to be the first hikers on a brand new piece of trail that will be completed next weekend. It will nearly complete the trail through St. Croix Falls.
No need to find a plce to camp tonight. No planning tomorrow's hike. No wondering what excitement the trail will bring. Just profound gratitude to all the folks that make this trail possible and my opportunity to enjoy it - end to end.
Few More Blazes
In the final St. Croix Falls segment which is 7.5 miles. Just a few more yellow blazes to follow to the end.
I can see. MINNESOTA across the river through the trees and beginning raindrops!
Thanks to an early start, smooth bike trail, and cool, breezy, dry weather, we've covered 10 miles by 9am and reached Centuria. From here, it's a bit over 12 miles to the terminus!
There hasn't been much to see this morning along the Gandy Dancer bike trail, but these tractor crossing signs ard fun.
The rain is supposed to start any time, but I've got my fingers crossed it will miss us.
If you have nothing better to do today, you're welcome to join the big parade at the end around 2pm! :-)
One More Day
I walked 67500 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 31 miles today.
The adventure is almost complete. Only 23 more miles to finish tomorrow - from Luck to St. Croix Falls. We covered a lot of ground today since the weather was great and tomorrow promises rain. We'd also like to reach the terminus in time to tour the Ice Age center before closing.
As you can see, the bridge over the Clam River is closed - but easily crossed so no detour is needed. It's just a little deteriorating in spots.
This morning, we passed the northernmost point of the trail - just another little milestone.
We also met another Ice Age volunteer running on the trail today. John stopped and chatted awhile and then ran on. We saw our first bowhunters also.
I walked 58300 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 26.5 miles today.
There appear to be two camps of people when it comes to 'Ticks'. One group says they are only out in spring and summer with nothing to worry about in the fall. The other group says deer ticks can also be encountered in fall. After today's hike, guess what group I'm in?
Here's the blurry pic of the little hitchhiker Papa Bear tweezed off my back where it had been warm all afternoon under my pack. I've had dozens of wood ticks but this is my first ever deer tick! I don't think he was biting in long enough to cause trouble but I'll keep an eye out for any strange symptoms next week.
Besides this pest, the hike was great today - clear blue sky above colorful trees buffeted by strong breezes. Leaves falling around us all day in the sun made a perfect fall hiking day.
The trail was pretty good. We hit one swamped over area of trail and threw down a few logs. There were a few strangely blazed spots that we figured out. We also did a short roadwalk at the end of the day. When we came out of the woods on County E there was absolutely no indication of where to go. No entry point across the road, nor arrows, blazes, or notes pointing north or south. So, we roadwalked around the section, adding a mile or so. Looking on the IATA website, we should have gone north to find the new trail.
Checking weather, looks like our final day on Saturday will be wet and windy. :-)
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