Ice Age Trail

My Ice Age Trail Hike

  I hiked the Ice Age Trail from August 3 to September 28, 2013.
I took 2,248,576 steps to travel about 1095 miles.
Journal   Map   Photos   Gear   Food   Expenses   Supporters   Stats
My GearMy pack weighed under 23 pounds with food and water. Since the trail passed by many small towns, parks, and farms, there was never a need to carry many days of food and water was never an issue. This helped keep pack weight down.
G4 backpack16$40G4 Backpack made myself from pattern.
Comfortable, light, and plenty of room for all my gear. I used my new green version most of the trip.
shelter30Bear Paw shelter silnylon tarp with internal bug nest from Bear Paw Wilderness Designs, including stakes, lines, and groundsheet.
This is a very nice shelter, but I switched back to my home-made shelter after a few weeks. I was a bit too long for the bug nest, being almost 6-2. Bear Paw has larger versions, but I didn't have time to get one ordered.
shelter28$75MYOG shelter silnylon shelter I made, including stakes, lines, and groundsheet. I treated it with silicone spray, added a bug screen edge and floor, and it worked just fine.
sleeping quilt32$80sleeping quilt I used this quilt I made myself from pattern. Same as my silver quilt for the AZT, but only 1 layer of insulation. It's 8 oz. lighter, but not as warm.
Exped Synmat 7 UL Pad16.2$155ExPed SynMat UL 7comfortable, warm, light mattress for restful nights.
Exped Schnozzel Pumpbag2.0$25exped schnozzel pumpbag Fills pad quickly with dry cold air instead of hot moist breath. Serves as inflatable pillow and storage in pack for night clothes.
Snow Peak LiteMax stove2.0$45This stove did great, but we didn't actually cook very often. Many more restaurant/bar/home meals than I expected along the way.
Giga Power fuel7.0$354oz. fuel and 3oz. canister.
cook kit5.8$25includes spoon, pot, foil lid, stand, windscreen, and lighter.
food cozy.8myog food cozy insulates food package while the hot water is heating it up. Saves fuel and works super.
food0-7lb.Never carried more than 5 days of food.
water filter4.2$51.70Bought a new Sawyer Squeeze, so now I have an extra. Wound up filtering water ZERO times on this trip! Lots of faucets, drinking fountains, wells, bathrooms, restaurants along the way.
water bottles1.2two .6L throw-out bottles - cheap, easy, light.
water bag.9$81L Platypus roll-up, just for backup.
water1-4lb.water is plentiful, so no need to carry much. 2.2lb/L
BSA wicking t-shirt11.2$20light, synthetic - 2 shirts
arm warmers3.8$9 arm warmer made from kneelength socks for chilly evenings and mornings, instead of long-sleeve shirt
bug suit6.0$28 bug suit Super protection from blood suckers. Very light, did not need bug spray, easy on and off, no slime on my skin.
This has been the best investment for this trip - lots of mosquitos but very few bites.
BSA zip-off pants17.2light and sturdy
BSA socks5.73pr. hiking socks. Wore them out and had to buy more.
shoes32.5$45New Balance 606 - from ebay.
underwear4.22pr. Bought 4 more along the way.
BSA hat3.5baseball style
cellphone4.3cellphone for daily blogs and pics.
camera7.7$125new Nikon with 18x zoom. I'm hoping for more wildlife pics. bought on ebay.
tracker4.2pings to satellite with my location.
pedometer.6$25pedometertrack my steps, just for fun. Bummer, I lost this in a swamp partway through the trek and had to estimate steps after that.
rain poncho3.4$4cheap disposable to cover me and pack from rain - taking 2.
maps2$35IATA Atlas map set.
1st aid kit2.3basic personal items - bandaids, pain relief, tape, ...
pad repair kit.4
knife1.1tiny, single blade.
toothbrush1.3includes paste
ear plugs0
50ft. core1.5hanging food to protect from animals
toilet kit2.8TP, Purell
headlamp.5$11Photon microlight Awesome photon light, with spare batteries. One set of batteries lasts about 10 days.
Stick Pic.4self-pictures and videos
misc.122 garbage bags, whistle, clippers, thermometer, extra batteries, and other small items
4lbs worn, not in pack
12lb pack weight
2 to 11lb food & water
14 to 23lb - total weight
My FoodMy planned menu was supplemented with quite a few restaurant and home meals, so I got lots of variety:
  • Breakfast: 2 poptarts or granola bars. I'm rarely hungry before starting.
  • Lunch: peanut butter and honey mixed, on ritz crackers. I didn't get tired of it, but came close.
  • Snacks: Snickers, trail mix, sunflower kernels, peanut M&Ms, raisins. I could probably live on just Snickers for a month, but peanut M&Ms are awesome, too.
  • Dinner: Knorr noodles or rice, salmon or tuna or chicken pouch, olive oil. Lots of flavors and combinations are possible. I actually ate very few of these and did more non-cooking food.
  • Drink: mostly water, but diluted Gatorade occasionally. I also had chocolate protein powder mix and I really liked that.
  • Daily vitamin
My Expenses
  • travel to trailhead from home - $150 - drove home to take a week off during heat wave, so that cost a bit.
  • shuttling car during hike - $400 - much more than expected since we shuttled two cars for a few days and did shorter shuttles than I planned.
  • travel from trailend to home - $15
  • gear - $240 (camera, filter, shoes) - most of my gear from last year is fine.
  • maps - $35
  • food - $600 - restaurant food was more expensive, but made the hike more fun and interesting since I met more people.
  • lodging - $14 - stayed with friends, family, Scouting families, and open camping. Paid for 1 night in Kettle Moraine forest.
  • Total - $1500 - about $1.33/mile
You Askedquestions you asked about my hike. Got one? - Ask It


Ice Age Trail Statistics

DistanceAlmost 1100 miles - much of the trail is not yet complete so there is quite a bit of roadwalking and alternate routes until land is acquired and set aside for the entire route.
I took about 2,250,000 steps from end to end.
Total ElevationThe total cumulative elevation climbed is undocumented at this time. The closest estimate based on DNR data from 1998 is 25,000 feet. It is most likely under 40,000 feet due to the flat terrain.
TerminusEast: Potawotami State Park, Sturgeon Bay
West: Interstate Park
Highest PointLookout Mountain, 1920ft
Lowest PointLake Michigan, 580ft

Click for Large Map
TerrainAll of Wisconsin is fairly rolling landscape with no high elevations or long, steep climbs. Since much of the trail is incomplete at this time, flat roadwalking accounts for many miles of the trail.
The trail is marked with yellow blazes. Since it gets relatively light traffic in some sections, volunteer efforts are key in maintaining the trail corridor.
HistoryFounded in 1958 by Ray Zillmer. Established as a National Scenic Trail in 1980.
First thru-hiked by James Staudacher in 1979.
Challenges Much of the trail has no camping allowed, being on private property. Connecting with local residents for permission to camp overnight is a key skill to learn.
Traffic while walking on roads over connecting routes can be dangerous.
The western sections cross public forests where bears, wolves, and other animals may be encountered.
Hunting season needs to be considered in the fall. There were a couple sections closed to hunting starting Sept. 1
Time WindowApril through October. Spring has wet weather, summer has high humidity and mosquitos, late August through September are the best bet with late October bringing cold and hunting season.
Time to HikeTypically takes 7 to 10 weeks. Speed record is 22 days set by Jason Dorgan in 2007.
Permits There are no fees or permits required to hike the Ice Age Trail.
Thru-hiker TallyThe Ice Age Trail Alliance gives the name 1000 Miler to anyone who completes the entire trail, all at once or in sections. I am #81 on that list and unofficially the 22nd thru-hiker.


Trail Links

Google EarthView Trail with google earth
Full MapsIATA Interactive Map
AgenciesIce Age Trail Alliance

Land Managers and Partners of the Ice Age Trail

Wisconsin DNR
National Park Service

Hike On: My Hikes

 Aug 06, 2014 - Justaguy
Do you really consider yourself a thru-hiker? Your GPS shows you skipped sections, included the yellow blazed Baraboo segment which is required to be considered a "1000 Miler"
Aug 07, 2014 - Hiking Dude
@Justaguy - I shared my hike info with the IATA and they consider me a "1000 Miler".  I hiked from one end of the IAT to the other, so I do consider myself a thru-hiker.

I'd love to hear where you got your information about the Baraboo segment.  I've never heard that before.  Care to share?
Aug 18, 2014 - Matt
@Justaguy - You don't have to do the western AND eastern bifurcations to be considered a "thru-hiker."  @Hiking Dude did the eastern bifurcation, and IATA considers him to be a thru-hiker.  Good enough.
Aug 18, 2014 - Matt
Nevermind, @Justaguy is right according to the IATA website:

"Hiking the entire Ice Age Trail route is necessary to qualify this includes all yellow-blazed Ice Age Trail segments and the unmarked connecting routes that link the segments."

I guess @Hiking Dude is a thru-hiker, but according to IATA's website he is not a "thousand-miler."
Aug 18, 2014 - K
If you were to hike the entire route of the Ice Age Trail, you would cover around 1,200 miles.

Of that total, more than 600 miles would be official Ice Age Trail segments marked with yellow Ice Age Trail blazes. The majority of these miles conform to hikers' ideas of a traditional, off-road hiking experience. Some segments, however, lead hikers right down the main streets of charming Wisconsin communities.

The remaining miles would be "connecting routes," typically quiet country roads lacking Ice Age Trail signage. While these miles are part of the current Ice Age Trail route, they are not technically recognized as official Ice Age Trail segments. One of the main goals of the Ice Age Trail Alliance is to convert connecting routes into permanent (generally off-road) segments of the Ice Age Trail

Aug 21, 2014 - Hiking Dude
@Matt and @Justaguy - A direct response from the Ice Age Trail Association about both sides of the bifurcation being required for the 1000-Miler status:

"For the purposes of Thousand-Miler recognition, you may choose to do either; both are NOT required."

Only 4 of the current 1000-Milers have done both sides of the route.

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