Ski Jumps, Heat and Wisconsin’s Roads
Day 24 – Trail Mile 473.3
Starting on another cool and overcast day on the Ringle Segment. While there were some wet spots, this was nowhere near as bad as it has been over the past few weeks. The Ringle Segment is currently getting a bit of an update and a group of the Mobile Skills Crew had been busy over the weekend. As I wasn’t sure whether their work was complete and whether I would get back to the current trail I decided not to explore their newly created trail. I might come back later in the week to see what they have created.
Day 24 finally marks my first proper on-trail human contact. I met a volunteer of the local Ice Age Trail Chapter. It’s nice to meet the people who look after the trail, without them, hiking here would be impossible.
While the day started in the woods and along a not particularly pleasant smelling landfill site it ended with another stroll along a multi-use disused railway line and lead to the next connecting route – another 28 miles on the road, 10 completed today.
Day 25 – Trail Mile 492.6
This day continued where I had left it the previous day, along the road. Unfortunately the weather had turned to rain for most of the morning, but it was just as well, as there wasn’t an awful lot to see along this particular section of road.
Day 26 – Trail Mile 513.2
Today my current Trail Angel joined me for a short while as I started the New Hope & Iola Ski Hill Segment. It was nice to have a local hiker with me, I certainly learn a lot more than when I’m out in the woods on my own and after a week or so of complete solitude on the trail it was nice to have some company on the way.
The New Hope Segment started off fairly hilly and the theme continued thought out, in and out of the woods, along farm fields and a Ski Jump! Another one of those experiences where it just seems out of place when walking along in bright hot weather.
This segment was followed by another 13 mile road connecting route. As it was a nice and sunny day it was a bit more enjoyable than the previous connecting route and the scenery had improved as well, taking me over some rivers and wide open landscapes with duck ponds and farm land. This connecting route also saw me pass the 500 mile mark, nearly halfway there!
I also went into the beginning of the Skunk & Foster Lakes Segment, where I nearly managed to step on a snake – luckily managed to avoid it.
Day 27 – Trail Mile 520.6
A short day on the trail, but a long day on Wisconsin’s roads – in the car this time. Unfortunately I managed to get my dates mixed up as I was planning to help out with an Ice Age Trail fundraising event in the Madison area. Turned out I should have been there the day before, so I drove a 5 hour round-trip for nothing!
After returning from my little detour I re-walked the beginning of the Skunk & Foster Lake Segment with my Trail Angel, as it’s a nice circular route around the car park it seemed a suitable part of the trail to walk together.
The short connecting route to the next segment was hopefully the most difficult connecting route I will need to do. I had to cross a busy 4 lane highway on a Friday afternoon and as it was a holiday-weekend it seemed particularly busy. There I stood, for a good five minutes, before I was able to make a move into the central reservation and eventually across the whole road.
It was worth making it across though, the Waupaca Creek segment rewarded me with a path lined with wild strawberry (I hope these are ripe before I leave!) and a pleasant view over the creek.
Day 28 – Trail Mile 546.9
Another long day ahead, although it started earlier than expected. I woke at 4:45 to messages of a fellow hiker having drunk some dodgy water from the Grenlie Lake on the Skunk & Foster Lakes Segment. In the hope of saving his weekend out in the woods I drove to drop off some fresh water for him before meeting my Trail Angel and her husband at the end of the Deerfield Segment. As we all arrived at the meeting point early we decided there was enough time to stop off at the Hartman Creek State Park for a quick look at a “Marker Tree” – a tree shaped by Native Americans to, in this case, indicate the direction of the nearest water source. This isn’t something I haven’t heard of before and I’m grateful that I have my Angels point things like this out to me as I wouldn’t have seen this without their help.
After my little off-trail learning adventure I was dropped off at the Hartman Creek Segment’s Trailhead to start today’s 26 mile hike.
Lucky all of these miles were almost completely dry and in good shape. The Emmons Creek Segment was lined with an array of wild flowers so it was pretty to look at. By noon it was boiling hot and I was back on the road, for another 13 mile connecting route to the Deerfield Segment.
I can’t say I found much joy on the Deerfield Segment. After well over 20 miles without a break and in humid 25ºC heat I was ready to finish the day as soon as I got to the beginning of this hilly segment, but I made it to the end, just!