Monday, September 9, 2013

Day 9: Mondeaux Esker, East Lake, Rib Lake, Wood Lake

Happy Birthday to Me!

I began my birthday with a pumpkin spice cappuccino from a Holiday gas station. Nothing like my fave Jack Frost Lattes from Sun Prairie’s Beans ‘n Cream, but it would have to do.

So, it’s my 52nd birthday, and I have to hike the bulk of the infamous Mondeaux Esker. This segment winds up the west side of the Mondeaux Flowage, then down the east side before heading straight east for a few miles. All of the hiker notes talk ominously of the terrible conditions on the eastern section: flooded areas, poor markings, hikers getting lost. Yesterday, two hikers chatted with Ed while I was on the trail. They also said the eastern part of that segment was awful, rating it an “F.” I was not looking forward to this.

The western segment was great – on top of an esker, which seems to always equal great footing. I ran along merrily here. Unfortunately, I did drop our spare car key in the process – and didn’t realize it until I ran into Ed, so Ed had to retrace my steps and find it while I motored on. But I digress. The eastern side along the flowage had some soggy parts, and some gnarly areas, but it wasn’t that bad. It was certainly well marked. Then the final eastern stretch loomed. Gulp! It turned out to be fine as well. Yes, it was a bit overgrown, but nothing like some of the previous segments I’ve hiked. The only dangerous section was a beaver dam you had to cross. It was covered in 4-foot high vegetation that hid both the dam (your footing) and the blazes. Afterwards, I informed the local IAT chair, Buzz, and he said it will be taken care of pronto.

Next up: the East Lake and Rib Lake sections, which appear to be one when you’re hiking them. I knew this was the area around Rib Mountain and Timms Hill, the highest points in the state, so I figured it could be hilly here. Yep. You pretty much walked up a huge hill, then down a huge hill, over and over and over again. Most of the trail was free of undergrowth, though, which was nice. Plus the group that maintains this section posts helpful, informative signs along the way, like one pointing out the stump of a tree that had been cut down +100 years ago. I’m not sure how they know this, but it was fun to see.

The last section I tackled was the start of Wood Lake. Wood Lake also carries warnings about “frequent bear activity,” missing blazes due to logging and beaver dams that flood the area. I just walked a short part of the segment before it enters the logging/beaver dam area, and it was fine. A great end to my birthday. J

Speaking of my birthday, if any of you are so inclined, please consider making a donation to the Ice Age Trail Alliance in honor of my birthday or thru-hike. Like so many other worthy entities, the IAT is short on funds. Volunteers maintain and build all of the trails, and of course the IAT is only half completed. We’ve got one of only 11 National Scenic Trails in our backyard, folks, and that’s something very special. Something to treasure. So whether you’ve got a spare $5 or $25 or $50 or more, please consider helping us finish all 1,200 miles of the Ice Age Trail.



  1. Glad you are back on track Valderi, Looking forward to joining you next week near Portage. I would love to be seeing and running the trails up North too since they offer a different challenge and sense of accomplishment from those wide trails to the south. The Alliance is always appreciative of donations and any amount will allow us to continue our ability to extend and maintain the trail. I'll promote the option for people to join and/or volunteer for the Alliance too. 100's of volunteer opportunities each year with three big Mobile Skill Crew events still coming up at Harwood Lakes, St Croix Falls and Gibralter Rock. Jason.

  2. Hi Melanie,

    Good to hear things are still going well. The bod is holding up, and you look great in the pics! Keep up the good work, and have a great time.