South Kettle Moraine Backpacking

Over Father’s Day weekend this year (June 2020) Gail and I hiked 35 miles in the  Southern Kettle Moraine. It was a hike I’ve wanted to do for nearly three years after I found out you can do overnight hikes on the Ice Age Trail.  It was the first overnight backpacking trip I’ve ever done and the first of its kind in my quest to become and Ice Age trail Thousand Miler.  We stayed in adriondack style shelters along the way (southern Unit has three such shelters and you need a reservation to stay at them).  The bugs ate us alive because we were grossly under prepared for how bad they would be.  Looking back we learned that a double wide bug tent would have protected us and provided us the rest we desperately needed each night. Other tips:

  1. leave a fresh pair of clothes along with a non perishable bag lunch in the car for when you are done with the hike.
  2. have location of start/end point saved on GPS (google maps) to share with friends/family/trail angel.
  3. give out blog info to passerbys and interested parties.  Have slips of paper with blog name or website listed
  4. Shelter #2 has a great view for sunsets. Plan accordingly.

It was forecast to rain on Saturday the entire week but we seemed to miss any serious storms.  We were well prepared, with full rain gear in tow, but were glad when the storms never came to us.   The hike was not without its setbacks due to covid.  We did not have a working backpacking stove with us to start and the REI in Appleton is not opening yet due to COVID.  We stopped at Cabelas in Richfield and I purchased a nice one on Friday.  We didn’t hit the trail til noon and by then the temp was about 90 ( the hottest day of the three).  The next two mornings we started around 6am, after restless nights of sleep because of being attacked by mosquitoes.

On Saturday, a guy named Jp and his hiking friend approached us while we were resting near the horse camp.  He mentioned we would be our trail angel (we had been looking for one because the IAT chapter coordinator wasn’t running shuttles due to COVID).  That was a huge relief, because we spared our mom from driving all that way just to drive us 25 min back to our car.  JP also brought us some cold beer on Sunday after it was all over.  By then, Gail and I had found a water spigot and gave ourselves a birdbath and hung out at a empty campsite in Whitewater Lake Campground.  I swear to god it felt so good to do that, and so refreshing, that afterwards I could see straighter.

We liked the simplicity and balance that hiking overnight afforded us.  In some ways, hiking in a new place for that many days, you don’t know what to expect to see (or what terrain to encounter).  The unknown of each hiking day is balanced by knowing that you will have a square and refreshing meal at camp at night.  The simplest things are the only things you really worry about: having enough water to drink and food to eat.

The highlight for me on Saturday was going to Ole Oleson’s log cabin ( a Norweigian immigrant).  While sitting on a nearby bench, barefoot and enjoying the cool breeze, Gail and I witnessed a farm lady call her horses in for the night. There was also some goats there.   There was something so fundamental and comforting seeing someone do that, and being out hiking it made you appreciate the little things, as I eluded earlier that hiking does that.

There was a spectacular sunset on Saturday night that we wished dearly we could have witnessed at Shelter #2 where there is a spectacular view of the Western skyline (great to relax and watch a sunset at the end of a hiking day).  Overall, I was so happy Gail agreed to do this with me.  To take in the ups and downs of hiking mid-summer was so rewarding at the end.  We celebrated Father’s Day with our family after we got home, and for two days after I basked in the warm glow of knowing that I accomplished something great with my little sister.

P>S Thank Gail for all the wonderful pictures.  And note to self: take more pictures of your hiking partner next time!



Point Beach Segment part deux

I hiked with Jackie and her partner Pawel on May 31st 2020. It was Jackie’s birthday hike before she moved to Detroit for school this summer.  The water was very high from lots of rain and snowmelt over the last year.  There was just a small ribbon of beach to walk on.  We had to dodge the tide to keep from getting our shoes wet!

Along the way we encountered a large puddle on the  bike path we ended up on.  The ice age trail seemed to have  deep puddles in the areas leading up to the lighthouse, so we had to abandon the course and take the bike path.  We made it as far as the lighthouse, which was the perfect distance.

Afterwards, in Two Rivers, we stopped at the pink building wonder called Conuts and a sundae in the official Home of the Sundae.



Hartman Creek part deux

When: 4/25/20

Who: Clif & Zoe

What: Did this segment last year on Labor Day weekend with Zoe.  Came back and did it with Clif added to the group.

Indian words: “Waupaca” is a Menominee word translated as either “pale water” or “tomorrow”.  Waupaca is the name of the county and its river.

I mistakenly did this segment again with these guys.  I learned that I have to check my blog or my Thousand Miler map before I go and plan segments.  Either way, it was good to see this segment in the Spring. I only remembered three things from the first time: the beginning, the giant erratic with King Arthur’s sword, and the end.  This time I really got to realize that this segment has a lot of rolling hills.  There were many trail runners this time- I can only imagine the great workout it is to run a trail like this.

I would be lying if I didn’t say the highlight was getting my haircut.  Clif gave me a couple of “buzzes” in college and so I trust him as my amateur barber.  I brought along a set of clippers and after the hike, we plugged them in and he started clipping away.  My hair was quite long and I was overdue for a haircut.  However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all hair salons are closed, and I didn’t have a avenue for getting it cut otherwise!

Interesting note: Hartman Creek State Park splits Portage & Waupaca county line.


West Bend Segment

Date: Weds 4/15/20

Who: Mom, Anne, Cleo

Distance:6.5 mi (just shy of segment end on N end of Glacial Blue Hills park)

Mom had her spring break this week.  This is the first hike of 2020 and also the first during the COVID-19 breakout.  We saw a few other souls, and more than 1/2 of them were also with dogs.  It’s cool they let them on the trail.  Cleo was a great dog and stayed no more than 40 yds in front of us while we walked.  Anne demonstrated that Cleo could turn around and come to here with just a quick command.  It quelled any reservations we had about her maybe getting in trouble with other dogs.  She is a  noticeably better trained dog since the summer of 2019 training in Thorpe.

The weather this time of year is perfect for sustained outdoor activities.  Yard work, running, and hiking are just a few of the activities that you can do without breaking a sweat, and staying comfortably cool all the while you do them.  In addition, there are no bugs to bother you, and to some extent, less plants and things to trudge over.  Nature has left a clean slate from winter and you can see as far as the leaveless trees will let you.

West Bend was characterized by ridge that you walked on in the woods.  On the 1st half there is water low on the hill to your right side.  In the second half, the water is on your left hand side.  It felt like a perfect balance of scenery that way.  It was nice to get into Southern Wisconsin during a time where most of the State Parks are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Summer of Hiking

Hello all,

I went on a great hike with Zoe over labor Day Weekend in Hartman Creek.  The weather was partly cloudy, with a high near 75.  Not too hot with a cooling breeze.  Perfect weather. It was our first time hiking together and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  One highlight was finding mushrooms galore.  They were littered throught the 5.3 mi.  I saw a couple varieties that I have never seen before that I was excited to identify.

Zoe and I posted a picture with the tag #iceagetrail on Instagram and our photo got featured on the Ice Age Trail (IAT) website.  This is a good way to get famous- anyone can do it and be featured there.  We have since posted a photo from each one of our hikes and it pops up everytime, along with other IAT hiker’s photos.

In addition to Hartman Creek Segment, we completed the Merrimac Segment, Gibraltar Rock Segment, and rode the Merrimac Ferry (WI only free Ferry). We experienced extremely wet conditions on the Merrimac segment.  We both had the “soaked shoes” feeling for the full 3.2 mi.  Luckily a couple with a lab puppy helped us get out of the wet lowlands and onto the right hiking path.

Another thing of note is we used trail angels for both the Eastern Lodi Marsh Segment  (done later, on 10/12/20) and the Gibraltar Rock segment.  It made us appreciate the IAT and the generosity that every hiker talks about.  By our trail angels we were recommended what segment to hike, where to stop in town for ice cream, and of course driven directly to the point we should start at without driving past the trail head (a common occurrence on the IAT!)


“Thousand Miler” Map and Checklist

For anyone hoping to complete all 1000 miles of the Ice Age trail, having a Thousand miler Map and checklist is key.  As you can see, I have put my map to use, logging the 50 miles I have completed.  I have my mom to thank for giving me this as a gift for Christmas.

Having done this sort of activity makes me want to go out and hike.  I know, however, the time will present itself for better hiking conditions.  Right now it is 4*F outside.  For now, all I can do is look forward to the day when I can get back on the Ice Age Trail.


My goals for the trail in 2019 include

a) hiking in early spring again with Clif somewhere in Portage or Waupaca County (near Stevens Point)

b) hiking “City of Two Rivers” segment with my mom

c) doing my 1st weekend overnight trip on the trail in Southern Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest with Clif and Josh.IMG_0891.JPG

Point Beach Segment

10 Miles.  It started down a stroll on Lake Michigan beach.  The waves crashing madly, and me walking on the wet sand- avoiding the sand-bound waves.  After a short time I ran into a older man who, come to find out, has been walking the beach since the 70s.  The biggest lesson I took away from it is that alot can change in that much time.  He described a time where the water was much much higher, and also cited a time when the water was much more receded.

We continued walking, and eventually moved inland- away from the heavy noise that crashing waves have.   I broke my golden rule of hiking the ice age trail and went against what the guidebook says to do.  We turned at a junction and I followed him, he was so familiar that he said not to worry about it.  Everything turned out alright, and by that time the sun had poked its head out, if only for a little while.   Otherwise, it was a cloudy day.

Below I have some pictures of the trip.  Ironically I didn’t take any of the beach.  It was pretty uniform and nothing stood out enough for me to take picture.  Plus Paul (the guys name) was doing a lot of talking and we wanted to keep walking to get out of the chilly wind.  There was an inland sand dune (kind of cool) that I captured.  Also were some pictures of mushrooms.  I really enjoy mushroom photography.  They cast nice shadows, as you can see from the picture of the “mushroom tree ladder” picture.  Plus, they grow in unexpected places so are fun to capture when happened-upon.

I finished the day with a bike ride back to my van.  I just would say that the bicycle I used does not fit me well, so the going was slow, with my knees coming up way too high.  (Hopefully that will change- I plan to get a new bike).  It was good getting out and finishing the hike solo.  It was my first solo finish after hiking with company on all other hikes up to this point.  I decided on this segment because I knew 10mi was a long distance for novices and knowing that my mom will probably hike the “Dunes Segment and City of Two Rivers Segment”.

2018 Dane County Hike a Thon

It was called the hike a thon but really it was hike a “ton”.  It was 20 miles but time actually passed pretty quickly with Connor Mcgee by my side.  The entire hike a thon encompassed about 100 people, some hiking 6 miles and others hiking 20 miles.  Weather cooperated big time. It was 75 and cloudy most of the day, with a breeze.  We kept cool and never really heated up!

Throughout the 20 miles we knocked off two and 3/4 segments: Brooklyn, Montrose, and Verona.  At the end of it all there was a drawing for prizes.  Connor won the Ice Age Trail package, which included a guidebook, trail atlas, and IAT visor.  Jackie Weycker won a wine tasting pass.  I got a Fontana sports water bottle and chapstick.

The hike itself was super organized and fun to be a part of.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Manitowoc Segment

image2My mom and I had a nice day (38 degrees and sunny) on the Manitowoc Segment.  It started out in Henry Schuette park along the Manitowoc river.  It seems we traversed through many neighborhoods and saw many nice houses before coming to the mouth of the river downtown. The segment was a “urban segment” so we hiked through only a mile (out of 7.3mi) in woods.

The final stretch was along the Mariners trail, which “boasts the longest continuous scenic view of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin.”  The trail passed through Lakeview Park and we saw a few people walking through.  From there, we were on our own and didn’t see another person until the end of the trail.  That makes it the second segment in a row I didn’t see another person, and confirms for me that while visiting the next segment I will be sure to have a short conversation with any persons I encounter!

Here are some pictures from our hike:

New Hope- Iola Ski Hill Segment

completion of New Hope-Iola SKi hill SegmentTo start the new year of hiking I went to Stevens Point and hiked with Clif & Dana.  They live Stevens Point and took the 5.7 mile trek with me.  The highlight of the trip went undocumented by camera, and was left to our memories.  It was a courtship dance featuring two sandhill cranes.  We were about 1/2 way in on the hike and heard strange sounds down on a bit of wetlands.  Two birds, fresh back from their winter spent in FL or Mexico/ S. Texas.  The dance itself was incredible: One would flap its wings once and spurt into the air, and the other would follow.  It was similar to a type of bird I saw on Planet Earth II (called the Widow bird) which builds an intricate nest and then gets the attention of the female by hopping up into the air.

Another highlight, on an otherwise windy, overcast day of 37 degrees, was wooden sculptures & decorations along the last section of trail.  Someone (probably the man splitting wood at a house before this section) had built about four wooden “pieces”.  They were crudely fitted except with basic fasteners when needed.  One had wooden arms and a fist to look exactly like a human fist (complete with the thumb appendage).  Overall, it was a great surprise finding these creatures.

It would have made an interesting stop to talk with the man splitting wood, but since it was my first hike of the year I decided to push on and leave him to his work (and us to ours).  Also of note was the number of deer stands we saw (around 10).  We found out this section of trail is closed during deer gun season.  With so many hills and with trees in the way, pegging a deer must be difficult in some of the spots we saw.  Also, the steepness of the hills in the old growth forest area would make for hauling meat out a real chore.

It was cool being out in the woods  with two others.  It was also cool seeing the ski jump structure.  We didn’t see another soul on the trail and we got to experience the sound of wind in the trees the whole day. Here are some pictures from our adventure.