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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.

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Posted: 14:02 09-28-2013 1066
Camp Phillips

I walked 66000 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 30 miles today.
We put in a long day, but it went quickly hiking and visting with the new people we met on the trail.
Nearly to Haugen, a man with a dog came down the trail towards us. He recognized us and said he's been following this blog - how cool! Greg chatted while we hiked toward his vehicle. When we got there, he had soda and snacks waiting. What a great treat on a warm afternoon - Thank You, Greg (and your dog Archie)
Once past Haugen, the trail passes through BSA Camp Phillips. I've heard of this camp but never visited. It looks like a well-run and very nice camp with waterfront, pioneering, nature trails, and lots more. It was sure great of the BSA to have the trail pass through.
Soon after the camp, there is a big logging operation underway - chopping down everything, including many blazed trees. This was our first real hardship of the trail. We lost about 45 minutes searching for blazes, backtracking, and a little guessing before we finally made it through. Pat and Kehly - watch out!
Other than that, just a glorious day on a very mellow trail most of the day.

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Posted: 22:02 09-25-2013 1061
Friends from Home

I walked 58800 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 28 miles today.
What a wonderful day!
Last year on my Superior Hiking Trail trek, a scout from home and his family surprised me on the trail and hiked with me. Guess what?
Towards the end of our 17 mile roadwalk to Cornell, I saw a vehicle in a parking area along the road with what looked like a couple kids selling lemonade. Papa Bear and I decided we should support the young local entrepreneurs so we walked over. Only then did I recognize it was Benjamin and his family waiting for us to walk by!
They were on a weekend camping trip and followed our progress (Check out my current location on the map.) so they knew we'd be coming by soon. After a short visit and rest, they took our packs while we hiked the rest of the way to the city park. There, we were treated to a marvelous picnic of sandwiches, pop, chips, salad, candy bars, and even pickles - wow!
After lunch, we finished our roadwalk to the trailhead where Benjamin and his dad joined us for a 7.5mile trail walk. Benjamin did a great job finding blazes and leading us at a brisk pace. At the far end of the hike, his mom and sister met us for another snack break.
As it was getting late (and we had eaten most of their food, I expect), we finally hoisted our packs now filled with water for tomorrow and left our good friends to their drive home.
It was a most enjoyable afternoon and a real highlight of the trek for me! I am very grateful for such friends!
To top off the day, we found a new distributed camping area only a haf mile down the trail with flat, clean space and set up camp before dark. Bonus!
Thanks, Benjamin!!!

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Posted: 18:58 09-22-2013 1056
900 Miles

Just crossee the county border to Chippewa county. According to the Ice Age Trail guidebook, that is 900 miles behind us and less than 200 to go!
The day is gorgeous - clear and cool. We're chasing the setting moon towards Cornell and then on into the forest. Feet are doing great! It was good to have a day to heal.

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Posted: 9:02 09-22-2013 1055
Troop 536

Troop 536 in Medford, WI rocks!
Here is their scout hut right in the city park. It is a very cool meeting place and their scoutmaster is letting me rest here overnight. He is a great example of being helpful, friendly, and kind all at once.
He is leading the scouts on a canoe trip this weekend to a spot along the Ice Age Trail but they will be there after I've already hiked by - oh well.
Keep your eyes open to exemplify the Scout Law - there are opportunities everywhere, often when you don't expect them.

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Posted: 20:02 09-18-2013 1051
Buzz

I walked 24548 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 12 miles today.
Just after we finished dinner last night, the rain started. It diminished to drizzle around 7am so we broke camp. The drizzle, fog, and general gloom hung in all morning as we soggily trod to our destination. Fortunately, we had a short way today since our shuttle had been arranged.
The actual trail was fine and we spooked a bunch of grouse and a couple deer. Lots of effort has gone into the Taylor county segments with adequate blazing and navigable trail.
We were fortunate to meet the chapter coordintor, Buzz Meyer. Buzz gave us a ride and visited with us over a very filling pizza bar at Happy Joe's in Medford. He has lots of trail stories and is a dedicated volunteer - Thanks Buzz! (Here's Buzz and his nice truck)
Buzz dropped us off to tent in the Medford city park. While looking for a spot, I noticed a Boy Scout hut. I had my son back home look up the troop's contact info, I called the scoutmaster, and he let us rest inside away from the lingering mosquitos this evening.
Yet two more helpful, friendly, kind people to add to our long list on this trip.

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Posted: 19:55 09-18-2013 1050
Die, Mosquitos, Die

I walked 43162 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 21 miles today.
We called it a short day at Rusch Preserve where there are some free campsites and a pump well. The well water is brown. :-(
This is also the start of the 10mile side trail to Timm's Hill - Wisconsin's high point. (I won't be doing that)
Even though we've had two sub-freezing nights, mosquitos continue to hound us - but not as aggressively and only in the afternoon and evening. You can see I'm still making use of my bug suit this evening.
In this established campsite, there is at least one pesky rodent searching for free food. We've no such visitors when camping wild out on the trail. But, last night, we did have a gang of turkeys wander by our tents making lots of noise. That was a treat!

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Posted: 18:16 09-17-2013 1049
Top of the World

I'm on top of the lookout tower on the high point of the Ice Age Trail! It's all downhill to Minnesota from here.
Sweeping views all around, including Rib Mountain way down by Wausau. It's all gresn now, but in a few weeks it will be a kaleidoscope of color.
Hike On

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Posted: 10:03 09-14-2013 1044
Trail Angels

I walked 53389 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 26 miles today.
A funny thing happened on the way to Polar today...
Papa Bear read in the Ice Age Trail guidebook that a bar-n-grill in Polar, WI is hiker-friendly and may let you camp behind their place. With that in mind, we set our goal for today to be that grill. It would be a casual 23 miles with a long break in Antigo during the hottest part of the day, and we'd reach Polar around dark.
The roadwalk from Antigo took awhile to get going - checking for stove fuel (never did find any), grocery stop, WalMart stop, bathroom stop after too much pop at McD's. Finally, we were walking.
Heading due east, the sun setting behind us, it was a nice walk to Polar. When we got there, we thought the grill was farther ahead so we walked past the recommended route turn in the dark. After going farther than we figured was appropriate, we called the place. We could continue on and turn north or backtrack and turn north to reach them - same distance. So, we went forward.
A few minutes later, a car pulled up by us and asked if we were hiking the IAT. They invited us to their place along the route just up the way. They had seen us on the road earlier when they drove to Antigo and hoped they would find us again. TRAIL MAGIC!!!
So, after a shower, food, and conversation, I'm sending this just before bed in the home of yet more amazing trail angels.
You have opportunities to be a trail angel all the time - no trail is really needed to offer hospitality to others. It's up to you to notice and take those opportunities.

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Posted: 22:04 09-11-2013 1037
Changing Forests

I walked 37688 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 17.5 miles today.
A few separate trail segments were completed today with a wide range of terrain and plantlife. We ended the day with a roadwalk. Check out my current location on the map.
The forest over the past couple days is migrating from prairie and oak to more pine. Many acres of land have been planted in pine to be harvested just like any other crop. Pine forests make great camping spots as we've experiened the past two nights. They also hold many deer at night that get startled and snort when they discover our tents. It makes for fitful sleep but still fun.
Many turkey and deer crossed our path today as well as a few snakes. I don't mind the first two but could do without the last.
Total miles is short today because trail angels Jon and Nancy shuttle our vehicle and hosted us tonight. They are wonderful, outgoing folks and I hope to post more about them tomorrow. Right now, I've got to get some rest on this REAL bed. I feel great after 5 days of camp grime was removed in the lake and then a quick shower.

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Posted: 22:37 09-06-2013 1027
Snake

We met this little guy on the trail this morning. Anyone have a guess as to what kind of snake he is?
The temperature is steadily risng today and our forested trail walks are done - only road walking for the next hour or so until our friends find us and we call it a day.
We met a great local guy named Randy on the trail yesterday and again today. He likes to hike the trail for exercise, nature, and solitude. Taking a few minutes to visit with him was a fun break.

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Posted: 12:29 09-06-2013 1026
Half Way

I walked 54800 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 26 miles today.
HALF WAY!!!
Our campsite is almost exactly at the halfway point of the trail. Check out my current location on the map.
I know the actual trail miles change as new sections are created and reroutes occur, but with the best data we have this is the spot. I expect the second half to go quite a bit faster since our legs are stronger, the weather has cooled, and there will be fewer restaurants and such to visit. :-)
So, here's a picture of what my home away from home looks like now.

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Posted: 19:29 09-05-2013 1025
John Muir

John Muir had a huge impact on the wild places of our country. He founded the Sierra Club. This memorial park to him has a spring-fed kettle lake and a trail around which is part of the Ice Age Trail. Yes, we walked the loop :-). This was after our morning grass walk to get our shoes nice and moist :-(
With the good sun, our shoes are drying quickly.

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Posted: 12:53 09-04-2013 1019
Aldo Leopold Center

We're up before daylight and on the trail through fog and sunrise. It's cold this morning - about 44 degrees - so we walk to warm up.
All roadwalks today heading to Portage and we've reached the Aldo Leopold center. Very nice building (with bathroom) so we're taking a break to check out the displays. He had a big impact on outdoor ethics and promotion of wild places. Hopefully, we'll find some water here also.

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Posted: 9:32 09-03-2013 1016
Gibraltar Rock

I walked 24378 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 11 miles today.
Picking up right where we left off at the Lodi Marsh, we started hiking at 5pm today. The hike into Lodi was great! The trail was well maintained, the temperature was comfortable and the humidity was much lower. It felt wonderful to be back on the trail again, strolling over the miles.
In Lodi, we met a family having ice cream and talked about the IAT with them a bit. Then, we met the owners of a beautiful house that we were admiring right on the trail through town. They've made it into a B&B and they were very friendly folks asking us if we needed anything. We also met a past mayor of town who offered directions though we were fine with our maps.
You probably figured out all this chatting took up some time. :-). Leaving Lodi, the breeze, setting sun, and fresh air were perfect for walking more miles. We completed a nondescript section and then roadwalked around Gibraltar Rock which is shown in this photo. We hiked on until about 9pm - well after dark - to our camping spot under some nice pine and walnut trees.
The crickets and fireflys are out and it's time to rest for another day. Tomorrow, we ride the ferry!

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Posted: 21:02 09-01-2013 1012
Back On Trail
hiking food
Leaving for the trailhead in an hour. Anxious to get moving again and looking forward to the 20 degree drop in temperature and new terrain to cover.

We picked up more supplies for the next month and that's one of the best parts of long hikes - I get to eat pretty much anything I want and as much of it as I can hold. :-)
You might notice that some of this is not healthy food you'd want your family eating every day, but on the trail we're trying to get lots of calories in a light load. I do have fish, cheese, crackers, raisins, and noodles besides all these snacks.

Camera and cellphone are charged. Maps are ready. Clothes are washed. Ready to go.

I sure hope we run into some scouts or hikers out on the trail during the next week or so. That would be a fun surprise!

Scout On
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Posted: 10:15 09-01-2013 1011
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