Monday, September 30, 2013

Day 31: Monches, Lowe Lake, Holy Hill, Pike Lake, Slinger, Cedar Lakes, West Bend

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.

Lowe Lake was another beautiful segment, containing everything from pine forests to lake views to prairies. I wanted to love Holy Hill, but I have to admit it was just O.K. The first portion was quite brutal, with very steep up and downhills. You only caught glimpses of the basilica's towers twice, and the trail seemed to go on forever, crossing streets and turning into farm fields and all sorts of unusual paths. Pike Lake got a bit confusing, because all of the markings were a yellow wrap around a post (along with wraps of other colors for other paths); no consistent blazing or traditional IAT markings. It was quite hilly, too.

The walk through Slinger was fine, and the Cedar Lakes segment was pretty. I ended doing about 2-3 miles at the start of West Bend -- I enjoyed it quite a bit so far.

Tonight I'm staying with high school and college friends Bunny and Tim Collins. They've been so welcoming, and I feel like I'm at a posh B&B. Speaking of posh B&Bs, last night I stayed at Cold Spring Inn, a beautiful B&B in Hubertus, quite near the IAT. Hosts David and Kari are warm and welcoming, and you can't beat the wine and cheese spread they lay out for you when you arrive (nor the great breakfast parfait in the morning).

Tomorrow, when I'm not so comatose, I want to talk about the importance of FOOD while doing an epic adventure like this.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Day 30: Scuppernong, Waterville, Lapham Peak, Delafield, Hartland, Merton

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.

Waterville was a short jog through farm fields, prairie and woods -- again, very pleasant. I could do a lot of running here. There were lots of those spider web things, though. Ugh. I especially hate when they wrap across my face.

I was quite surprised at the Lapham Peak segment. I've skied there many times, plus run some trail races and adventure races there. I thought I knew all of the trails. WRONG. Virtually all of the IAT in Lapham were trails I'd never been on. Most were quite rocky, although the final segment across County Highway C was in a gorgeous prairie, with undulating hills and generally great footing. More prime running here.

The route through Delafield was mostly on a bike path, although it was quite hilly. Hartland was a fun hike/run. First, the trail took you alongside a golf course, then tucked you back into some woods near the course. Then you walked through a subdivision filled with gynormous homes, then onto a tiny trail in between some of the mansions. You popped out onto some recreational paths that led you into a marsh, then through some pretty parks. It was just so nice. Well, except for the section near the marsh. There was a long boardwalk there. I've been very careful with boardwalks, walking across all of them unless they were brand new. That's because the boardwalks on the IAT are generally older, and often have warped/uneven boards, boards that shift when you walk on them, etc. I've been very careful so I didn't have any mishaps. So there I was, walking along a boardwalk, when I suddenly slipped on a wet spot (or maybe moss) and slammed my shin into the edge. I figured I'd have a bruise from that, since I bruise easily, but tonight I discovered a HUGE goose egg on my shin (plus a big bruise). Figures! This trail wants to maim me.

The Merton segment was interesting. There's a trail there, and right next to it they're starting to create a rail-trail, which I believe is called the Bugline Trail. So you can walk the original trail or hike on the cleared path for the rail-trail. I did the latter.

So that was my day. But a few random thoughts.
  • I'm seeing a lot of pumpkins on people's lots, which reminds me Halloween is approaching. It's amazing how you get out of the loop of this kind of stuff when you're walking in the woods for a month.
  • The last few days walnuts have been dropping everywhere. Yesterday it was very windy, and I can't believe I didn't have walnuts smacking me on the head. I'd be on the trail, the wind would pick up, and walnuts would start slamming in to the ground all around me. I kept waiting to get hit in the head, but luckily that's one physical misfortune I avoided.
  • People, namely drivers, are much nicer up north and in small towns. Up north, they give walkers very wide berths. And I mean literally every driver. Once I hit Janesville, everything changed. No matter how far over on the shoulder I walk, it seems like cars are trying to hit me.
  • Not too long ago, a trivia question asked what the most popular vehicle in the U.S. was. I guessed Toyota Camry. It was a pick-up truck, and maybe specifically a Ford. I'm here to tell you I now believe it. I can't believe how many pick-up trucks I've seen in Wisconsin during this hike/run. I'm beginning to think we're the only family that doesn't own a pick-up truck.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Day 29: Connecting Route, Whitewater Lake, Blackhawk, Blue Spring Lake, Stony Ridge, Eagle

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.

Today started with a short connecting route, which passed this cool, old well. A sign noted it was hand-dug in 1895 and has been flowing steadily ever since. I filled my water bottle there; it was great tasting (not mineral-y) and nice and cold.

Then I hit KETTLE MORAINE, BABY! I've had various goals since I started: get across northern Wisconsin, get to the Dells, reach Madison, get to Janesville and go through Kettle Moraine. I was so excited to start the Southern Kettle. First up was Whitewater Lake. The path was quite rocky, which my blistered, infected feet didn't like one bit. Blackhawk was better, but Blue Spring Lake was alternately rocky and sandy, which wasn't great. Stony Ridge and Eagle were my favorites by far. They took me through gorgeous prairie and some wooded areas, with great footing overall. I was able to run quite a bit in these sections, and couldn't get enough of the scenery.

I've been wearing my blaze orange cap ever since Doug bought one for each of us back in Antigo. I was wondering if it was silly today, in Kettle Moraine, where surely there was no hunting. Then in Blue Spring Lake two hunters with huge rifles walked past. They said they were hunting squirrels. Glad I had my cap on! In both Stony Ridge and Eagle, gunshot could be steadily heard for hours. I thought maybe there was some shooting range in the area; Ed, my crew member for today and tomorrow, thought it was a trap shooting facility.

Lots of hikers, runners, mountain bikers and horseback riders in the Kettle today. It was nice to see the trails getting lots of use. There were at least a dozen people on the Eagle segment alone when I passed through at the end of the day.

Tonight we're staying at Eagle Centre House in Eagle, an early-American B&B. Ed and I are on the third floor in a room with some kind of rope bed/trundle bed. It's pretty interesting.

Got a little rain tonight, but it looks like sunny skies for the next few days. If all goes well, I'll be in Sturgeon Bay in just 8 days. Seems like I just started yesterday ...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Day 28: Devil's Staircase, Janesville, Milton, Storr's Lake, Connecting Route, Clover Valley

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.

From there the Janesville segment wound you through town along the Rock River on recreational trails, then led you out the east end, again on recreational trails. I have to say, I was quite impressed. Even though Janesville is close to Madison, I haven't been there that often and never dreamed the city would have such a great trail system. Everything was very well blazed as well, other than a few spots where there were new connecting trails being constructed. It was a lovely way to start the day. Best of all, Terie and I found a sign proclaiming the Eastern Terminus a mere 324 miles away (and the Western Terminus 776 miles).

The trail between Janesville and Milton was a cool little dirt path tucked into some woods between homes and the road. I wonder how long that's been there?

The Milton segment was nearly 5 miles long, and led you all over the town, showcasing the famous Underground Railroad home, the former Milton College and a few other sights. We had to cross the railroad tracks at least three times, and I kept hearing train whistles. At one point I saw a train chugging up the tracks and decided I wasn't going to wait for a train. So I sprinted on my sore feet and beat it. Vying with the train whistle blasts were what sounded like faint strains of a marching band. I thought I was imagining it, but later I passed the high school and I could hear their band playing. It made me realize I haven't heard music in a month. Wow.

I hiked nearly the entire Storr's Lake segment only to be turned back by a huge flooded section in a prairie area. I tried to hike around it, but it was wet everywhere, and with my ailing feet, I decided it was better to hike back out and walk around it. Note to the IAT folks: a boardwalk here would be great.

Had a long-ish connecting route, with one fun occurrence. Must be the day for music. At one point during my walk I spied someone in a white top with black pants standing in the middle of the road, singing. It was beautiful. I assumed it was Terie, a fantastic singer, singing me some song of encouragement (she was wearing a white top and black pants). When I got near the person, it was a young girl singing with headphones on. How great that she was standing outside, sweetly singing in the sunshine. It sort of made my day.

Finished up with the Clover Valley segment, a delightful hike through woods and prairie along a creek.

The only downer for the day is that my infection/cellulitis isn't getting better, so I had to fill yet another antibiotic prescription -- the same medicine as the first one I had. It got rid of the infection quickly, but had some nasty side effects. Let's hope this does the trick. 

Tonight I'm staying at Hamilton House in Whitewater, another lovely B&B that's very close to the IAT. The inn caters to hikers and cyclists, as those are their typical guests. So they have lighter, healthier breakfasts, for example.

Can't forget to mention that Tom Harding stopped over tonight. Tom is my deep-tissue massage therapist and acupuncturist -- very talented -- and came over from his home in Edgerton to give me a massage. Boy, did my body appreciate that!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day 27: Monticello, Albany, Connecting Route, Arbor Ridge

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!

My friend Terie Cebe was my crew member today, and she picked me up in Albany in a dense fog. We got to the rail-trail a bit north of Monticello and had a little photo shoot for one of the articles I'll be writing. Then I was off. I was going to be on the Badger State and Sugar River Trails for about 16 miles, so I figured this was the time to run -- on a flat, crushed limestone path, when it was still cool out and relatively shady. So I ran much of the segment.

Only had one snafu. Apparently at one point the two paths run parallel to one another (but you can't see it, as there's foliage in between), and you're supposed to hop from the Badger State to the Sugar River Trail. Either there was no IAT signage or it wasn't prominent, because I didn't see any arrows and so stayed on the Badger State Trail -- while Terie waited with my water on the Sugar River Trail. The two trails split a short bit later, and at that point there's plenty of signage directing you, so all was well. But to ensure she never missed me again, Terie began parking her car across the trail at designated intersections. Ha! There weren't many people on the trail, but one biker said to her, "Well, that's sure an interesting place to park your car."

Oh, saw lots of cranes in one section of the trail. It also passed through a tunnel. Now, when we biked the Elroy-Sparta Trail with our kids years ago, it was a blast to walk through those tunnels, one of which is 3/4 of a mile long. This tunnel was only about 1/4 of a mile, but I got all creeped out. First, all of these pigeons were fluttering around the entrance, swooping around me (I hate when birds do that). Then it was dark, despite my phone's flashlight app, and kinda creepy, especially with all of the graffiti on the walls and the sounds of water dripping from the ceiling. Since I was alone, my imagination was running wild. So glad it was a short tunnel.

Had a 20-mile connecting route after the nice, shady rail-trails. The temps climbed to about 80, and despite applying sunscreen several times, I got fried. UGH.

Janesville's arboretum was pretty cool. Hate to say it, Madisonians, but I think it's better than ours. Ended the day with a trail record 36 miles under my belt. That felt great, although I think I might need different meds -- these antibiotics don't seem to be working. Rats.

Tonight I'm at a gorgeous B&B in Elkhorn, Ye Olde Manor House. Rooms are stylish and comfy, there's an indoor pool and the food is fantastic. Definitely one to keep in mind.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Day 26: Valley View, Madison, Verona, Montrose, Brooklyn Wildlife

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.

Valley View started in between two enormous homes; it was quite easy to miss the trail if you weren't looking closely. It ran up into some prairie, then wound down among more homes. Parts were overgrown, and being early morning and dewy, I got pretty wet from the waist down.

The Madison segment took us around University Ridge Golf Course; signage was a tad confusing at some points. Luckily John was with me, as it's easier to find blazes with two people looking.

I'd been on portions of the Verona segment before, and that was well-maintained and scenic. I even got to use a bathroom, a rarity while on the trail.

The Montrose segment began on the Badger State Trail, and I have to say it was awfully nice to be able to run on a rail-trail for a while -- a flat, even surface. We made up a bunch of time on that one. We emerged at a spot I'd been looking forward to for a long time: Dot's Basement Bar in Basco. At the 2013 Ice Age Trail Annual Conference, lots of thru-hikers and section hikers talked fondly of stopping in for a cold beer at Dot's. Alas, when we arrived it was about 1:30, and Dot's doesn't open until 3:30 daily. I fished a lukewarm Leinie's out of the cooler and had two big gulps in front of Dot's just so I could say I had a beer there.

The Brooklyn Wildlife segment had some overgrown spots, but was mostly a beautiful combination of woods and prairie. John kept reminding me to stop and enjoy the views, which were pretty spectacular all day. We really do live in a gorgeous state.

Tonight I'm staying at Albany House in Albany. What a lovely B&B in a historic home. I'm in the Birdseye room, which has a great clawfoot rub for soaking tired feet, plus a comfy bed.

Oh, can't forget to mention that one segment had a sign saying the Eastern Terminus was 376 miles away. I hiked/ran miles past that, so I'm guessing I have only about 360 miles to go. WOO HOO.

One more thing. While on a connecting road segment, we passed old IAT signs for the Exeter segment. I don't have that one on my maps, and have never heard of it. I'm guessing it was a segment that ran on private land in the past, and the current landowner doesn't want hikers on his/her property.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Day 25: Connecting Routes, Indian Lake, Table Bluff, City of Cross Plains

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!

So I started the day with a long connecting route to Indian Lake. There was one weird stretch of road where there must have been hundreds of birds in the trees lining both sides of the road. All I could hear were the birds' calls, what sounded like lots of birds pooping, and then these loud "thunks," like big chestnuts or something were dropping from the trees. It was weird. I've also had lots of ear popping between Lodi and Cross Plains -- it's so hilly.

Indian Lake is a favorite spot of mine to run and hike, so it was fun to be there as part of this adventure. The trails were perfectly groomed, as always. Table Bluff was a new trail for me, and I have to say it wasn't a favorite. It was kind of scruffy and not very pretty, although when you finished and looked back up at it, it looked pretty impressive.

The City of Cross Plains' trail started off with a nasty steep uphill on a gravel road. Then you wound through prairie -- dying now, but it must be beautiful in its peak -- then through forest, back to prairie, back to forest and so on. You end up at the Ice Age Trail Alliance headquarters, so I stopped in to say hi to the friendly staffers and take some photos (and use the bathroom and get some cold water).

The final stretch was another road route, part of which was used by the Ironman competition. There were lots of signs and notes painted on the pavement, some of which were funny and applicable to me (see photos).

Staying tonight with some friends in Verona, the Sensemans. Great food, great conversation, great lodging. Oh, and can't forget to mention that my great chiropractor, Dr. Andrew Schupp, who's also a trail runner, made a house call to give me a treatment and keep me in tip-top shape. If you live in this area and are looking for a great chiropractor who also does body work (ART, Graston, etc.), call Dr. Schupp.

Day 24: Devil’s Lake, Merrimac, Gibraltar, Groves-Pertzborn, City of Lodi, Eastern Lodi Marsh, Lodi Marsh

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.

I was able to hike a tiny bit of the Merrimac segment, but the bulk of it was closed due to temporary logging. Gibraltar was another hilly segment (up a huge hill, down a huge hill), while Groves-Pertzborn gave a bit of a respite. The City of Lodi was interesting. You walk up a gargantuan hill in the city that’s several blocks long, then hang a right and slip onto a trail that runs behind the middle and high schools. It ends in the high school parking lot. Then you walk through the city of Lodi; I enjoyed gawking at all of the homes.

The last two trails for the day were Eastern Lodi Marsh and Lodi Marsh. Marshes are generally low-lying, so I figured these would be flat, relatively easy trails. WRONG. Eastern Lodi Marsh was insanely hilly. The trail wound through forest and farmland; never saw a marsh anywhere. Lodi Marsh was a “lollipop” loop (go up the stick, around the lollipop, and back down the stick). The trail was marked great until about halfway through, when the blazes suddenly disappeared. Then I hit an intersection that was unmarked as well. After trying to figure it out on my own with no success, I backtracked. Weird.

Lots of bug clouds today – ick. You kind of hold your breath walking through them so you don’t swallow thousands of tiny insects. For those who know birds, what kind of bird is it that sounds like a monkey? I’ve heard these before a few weeks ago, and today there were lots of them on the trails. I never see the birds, but their sound makes me feel like I’m in the jungle. Final stray thought: what’s up with squirrels? Why are they everywhere in cities, but nowhere in the forests? I don’t think I’ve seen one squirrel yet. Every once in a while there’s a segment where I’ll see/hear lots of chipmunks, but never  squirrels. Interesting.

Oh, I've been meaning to say that I've been trying a new product as I run. It's called Oral I.V. and is a hydration aid -- basically electrolytes in purified water. The product comes in little vials and has no taste. It was first used by the U.S. military (like the SEALS) and law enforcement before being made available to the public, which seemed like a pretty good endorsement to me. Anyway, on these really hot and humid days, I've been taking a vial or two during the day along with my regular water and energy foods. While I can't say definitively that taking the Oral I.V. has prevented me from getting dehydrated, I can say that I haven't had any issues with dehydration -- and I'm a person who dehydrates easily when exercising. I'm definitely going to try it again in the future (when I'm off the IAT), and if you're prone to dehydrating, you might want to give it a try.

Last night I stayed at the posh Inn at Wawanissee Point, right near Devil’s Lake. If you want to reward yourself after a long day of hiking, this is definitely the spot. The inn is newer and gorgeous, and has phenomenal panoramic views of the countryside out back. Rooms come with loads of amenities, and there’s a nice happy hour spread, not to mention delicious breakfast.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Day 23: Connecting Route, Sauk Point

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.  

My baby sister. Alison, and sister-in-law, Michele, were my crew, along with their trusty dog, Dunkin. Almost the entire day was a road route from Portage to the Devil's Lake area, and Alison and Michele (plus Dunkin) rotated walking with me. Gosh, did that make the miles go by faster! At he end of the day we reached the Sauk Point segment, a lovely stretch that takes you on top of a bluff and then down again.

It's amazing how the trails -- how nature -- impacts you. I had a great time walking with Alison and Michele, but the minute I got on the trails it was so peaceful. Your body just relaxes, your heart rate slows and it's just such a different experience. It's hard to explain. Get out on a trail today and see what I mean. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Day 22: Connecting Route, John Muir, Marquette Trail, Portage Canal

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.

The day was mostly cloudy and cool, although the sun broke through near the end of the day. The John Muir segment was short, but very pretty, running around Lake Ennis. Lots of pretty prairie and remnants of a rare oak savanna.

The Marquette Trail ran along a hilly bank above the Fox River. The views were gorgeous (see photos), although the footing was a bit tricky (the “bank” was marshy vegetation). The trail crossed 21 bridges/boardwalks, which was fun.

A gravel path ran along much of Portage Canal, although it switched to a bike path in town.

I ran into two section hikers today, and Ed and I saw innumerable cranes along the lengthy connecting route. A local told Ed she thinks they’re gathering for their flight south. They’re such cool birds, sort of prehistoric looking (and sounding). Can’t forget to mention a decent sized buck clattered across the road this morning, right as I was starting.

Last night we stayed at Bowman’s Oak Hill B&B in the Dells. The innkeepers are warm and friendly, our bed was quite comfy and the food was great.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Day 21: Bohn Lake, Greenwood, Mecan River, Wedde Creek, Chaffee Creek,Connecting Route

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. 

Chaffee Creek was interesting, because it takes you under I-39 twice. At one point you walk through an enormous metal culvert with the creek rushing through; there’s a handy concrete sidewalk on one side. The day ended with the start of another long connecting route. Doug handed off to Ed, who will be with me for much of the weekend.

Last night I stayed at the Mecan River House B&B. An IAT connecting route passes right in front of the inn! Handy. Innkeeper Agnes is very sweet. She let me do my laundry and made sure I had just what I wanted to eat and drink in the morning. Another great selection for a place to stay when you’re hiking. (Oh, and the river runs right behind her inn – it’s beautiful.)

500 miles away from home
People keep asking me how many miles I’ve walked. Truth is, I don’t know. That’s surprising for me, because I’m normally the kind of person who tracks everything. You’d expect me to be tallying my daily mileage down to the tenth of a mile, and know exactly how far I’ve walked and how far I have yet to go. But I haven’t done anything of the sort.

I think I got thrown off in the beginning by my knee tweak and blister infection, plus the rough paths. I didn’t want to think about having 900 or 1,000 miles to go, even if it sounded impressive to think I’d already covered 100 or 200 or 300. It was simply too daunting. I preferred to take things one day at a time, one hour at a time, one step at a time. Still do.

That being said, I’m pretty sure that today I’m roughly halfway through my epic adventure.  And that’s pretty darn exciting.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Day 20: Hartman Creek, Emmons Creek, Connecting Route, Deerfield

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.

I was worried about the weather today. We had a thunder and lightning storm about 5 a.m., and it looked pretty gloomy when Jason and I took off. The sun actually came out when I started, though, although it was incredibly humid.

Hartman and Emmons Creeks were a great way to start the day. The properties are beautiful, and very runnable. I enjoyed some of my best trail running to date here. Jason left me a sweet bit of trail magic at one of my first stops: a mini Snickers bar on a large rock. At the end of the two segments, I had to change clothes. Although I'd only gone about 10 miles, I'd soaked through everything due to the insane humidity and rising temps.

Today's connecting route was about 15 miles. I'm really getting tired of these, but Jason made it easy. Being so experienced, he had everything I might need laid out by his car every two miles. He brought along some chicken noodle soup for me, heating it on his car engine; boy, was that good! (It also gives you lots of sodium.) He made sure I took my Succeed capsules and Ibuprofen, and that I changed my socks and shoes halfway through the day. He got ice and kept my water chilled. He gave me blister advice and met me on the roads and trails several times. He took pix of me and commiserated about the heat, lack of shade, annoying gnats and headwind I was facing almost the entire way.

When we finally reached Deerfield, my feet were so sore from the pavement I was miserable. But after 3.7 miles in that pretty segment with mostly soft, great footing, my feet were happy once again. During my last mile, I could hear thunder rumbling. A few sprinkles fell as I was exiting the segment. I wanted to get in one last connecting route (just 1.7 miles), so I walked it in a light rain. About 60 seconds after I got into Jason's car, the heavens opened and it poured buckets. Great timing!

Tonight I'm at another lovely B&B, the Mecan River House. I think I might even walk by here tomorrow (there's a Mecan River segment), which would be pretty funny.

Day 19: Connecting Route, New Hope/Iola Ski Hill, Connecting Route, Skunk and Foster Lakes, Waupaca River

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.

The day started off with a bang: I took a wrong turn on the connecting route. I was a mile or so off before I realized what I'd done. That is so annoying! Luckily, things got better. I had a nice walk through New Hope/Iola Ski Hill; most of the trail was lovely, although there were two spots where enormous downed trees with lots of branches were difficult to get around and impossible to walk over.

A long connecting route was next. Not too fun, but the route was pretty, and I did see lots of glacial boulders in farm fields.

Skunk and Foster Lakes were pretty walks after getting through some early bramble -- and one big snafu. This segment pops you out on the road for a short road walk before picking the trail back up. When this situation occurs, the short jog on roads is marked. Not this time. I popped out of the woods with no indication of which way to go. I had a map, but discovered the map was cut off right in the middle of this segment. Phil was supposed to be on this road waiting for me -- he had my other maps -- but was at a parking lot we thought would be here, but was elsewhere. Neither of our cell phones had service.

I tried asking two locals which way to go, but neither one knew. Luckily Phil was on the ball and, after studying the maps some more, realized I would be emerging at this road, not the parking lot. So after freaking out a bit, I was relieved when Phil suddenly magically appeared on the road.

My last hike for the day was through the bulk of the Waupaca River segment. This is another lovely segment: great footing, great views, well maintained. Phil says he plans to return and go trout fishing there.

Have to mention Dreams of Yesteryear and A Victorian Swan on Water. I stayed at both Stevens Point B&Bs the last two nights. They're a block apart, and both are lovely properties with the nicest innkeepers, not to mention great food. I highly recommend them when hiking the IAT.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Day 18: Ringle, Connecting Route

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.

After that nice start, I was faced with a roughly 30-mile connecting route. I planned to do about 25 miles of it. Connecting routes are so hard on your feet. I was lucky in that I was able to walk on relatively soft, gravel shoulders for much of the way, which is not always possible. Highway I was newly paved, so both the shoulder and the road felt cushy. Got a lot of running in in both Ringle and the connecting route. Unfortunately, the last 6 or so miles on County A were awful. It was one of those roads where they spread blacktop or tar and dump stones on top. Those last few miles beat up my feet terribly. :( Oh well, that's part of doing a thru-hike.

Since I was on relatively main roads all day, no dog issues; people keep their dogs constrained so they don't get hit by cars, I imagine. At the end of the day, though, the one dog that didn't like me passing his property was, of all breeds, a Bassett hound. He waddled as quickly as he could on his stubby little legs right into the busy road and kept baying at me. I wasn't worried, though. Even after a 30-mile day, I figured I could outrun him.

The story of my lost sunglasses
So I have a favorite pair of running sunglasses that I brought along. I was wearing them this morning, then couldn't find them after a few hours. I frantically searched my Camelbak, pockets, etc., to no avail. I figured they must have slipped off the top of my head, where I prop them sometimes, when I was checking out this sign in Hatley and futzing around with my pack, my vest, etc. That makes the third thing I've lost so far: a pack of my energy jellies, a map and now my sunglasses.

A few hours later, I was trying to read an interesting sign across the road, but it was a bit blurry. So I ... took my sunglasses off my face to see it better. And that, folks, is how I amuse myself on the trail. (That is not old age, by the way, it's trail fatigue.)

If that wasn't funny enough, near the end of the day I tried to call Patricia to arrange my pick-up. No cell service. Horrors! Would I have to walk all night? I took off my sunglasses (it was cloudy now anyway) and hooked them on my Camelbak strap, even though I know that's not wise. I wanted to try and find someone and ask to use their cell phone, and I wanted people to see the sweet face of a middle-aged lady. Lucky me, another older woman was out walking (on that horrible road), and had a cell phone on her. She let me call Patricia and we arranged the pick-up.

So Patricia opens the car door. I'm pooped, so I quickly whip off my Camelbak and climb in. We've driven a few miles when I remember my sunglasses were on my Camelbak strap. If I just take off my pack without grabbing the glasses, they slide off. I start pawing through everything in the van to see if I'd thought to place them inside, but no luck. So we turn around and go back to where I ended. But there are no sunglasses on the ground. I check the car once again, and they'd slid under my car seat. Oops. Those naughty sunglasses!