Nearly there! Well, halfway and a bit…
Day 29 – Trail Mile 549.9
Another day without my angel support I ventured out on my own to hike the connecting route to Bohn Lake and the Bohn Lake Segment.
To avoid walking the same route twice I parked at the end of Bohn Lake and walked the long way around along a quiet country road to get back to where I left at the Deerfield Segment. The Bohn Lake Segment was short but pretty, with some more nice wildflowers dotted around. Although this was a rather short day on the trail, it was worth ticking this segment off.
Day 30 – Trail Mile 564.2
Given that this was a holiday weekend I thought I try to find some hiking buddies for the day to avoid having to walk back the way I came to get back to my car. Luckily I found a couple to hike and shuttle with.
We started the day at the end of Bohn Lake for a quick connecting route to the Greenwood Segment.
The Greenwood Segment was nice, mainly flat and dry, although the weather quickly decided to turn from sunny to outbreaks of showers, so we had to stop every so often to cover our packs and ourselves.
After finishing the Greenwood Segment we had another quick connecting route along the road, however, this one took longer than anticipated as we first got stopped by a local man to have a little chat and to tell us he wouldn’t set a foot into the Greenwood Segment due to bear activity – we saw no bears!
We then passed by a house with a big patch of lupine in the backyard and luckily were invited to come around the back to look at them up close, rather than from the roadside.
The Mecan Segment greeted us with an unexpected sign. According to this, I am apparently at the halfway point on my 1200 mile journey! Although I’m not entirely agreeing based on distance hiked and distance remaining, I’ll take it!
The Mecan Segment was a nice mix of paths through woods, open fields and along the river. We were disappointed by the little spur trail inviting us to enjoy the vistas. Unfortunately there wasn’t much to see of the river, as foliage on the tress is already blocking the view. At leat there was a nice bench at the end, to have a little rest. The last portion of the segment was fairly new and consisted of a nice little bridge over a wet area, providing scenic views over the Mecan River, certainly more inviting than the “vista trail”.
Day 31 – Trail Mile 583.7
This day started out with another brief road walk during a lovely sunny spring morning. On my way through a little village I was passed by two Amish buggies, they seemed really happy to see someone walking rather than driving a car.
The Wedde Creek Segment was another short an pretty one, I’m surely starting to get used to coming out the other end with dry feet. Although I do wonder whether another hiker wasn’t that lucky as there was quite a big whole in the bridge where someone or something broke through!
The Chaffee Creek Segment was very similar, although it took me through a little tunnel along the stream, to pass the Interstate above me. The segment also lead to a rest area of the Interstate, which was an interesting change of scenery, not something you come across on your average day of hiking the Ice Age Trail.
The finished the beginning of another long connecting route to to the John Muir Park Segment.
Day 32 – Trail Mile 611.6
I continued my journey along the road, rather than the newly suggested route of going through the town of Montello I chose to stick with the 2014 route through Packwauckee. While there wasn’t an awful lot to see in the village, I probably spent about 30 minutes on the causeway crossing Buffalo Lake as I was watching the birds sailing in the crosswinds above the road.
The John Muir Segment is a nice little short circular walk around Ennis Lake, crossing a couple of little bridges and boardwalks to avoid wet feet, although one of them sounded as if it was touching the water as I was walking across, slightly worrying I wasn’t going to have dry feet at the end of this one, but I guess I got lucky.
Day 33 – Trail Mile – Trail Mile 630.1
Another day, another road to connect to the next segment.
This one was a bit more interesting as I walked from John Muir Park to the Portage Canal Segment I passed by a little patch of grass by the side of the road where a family of Sandhill Cranes were busy gathering their food. I was going to investigate the two little colts as they looked all cute and fluffy but unfortunately the parents weren’t too keen on the thought of me getting closer to their offspring. So they quickly hid the little ones in the taller grass and shrubs away from the road and started a defensive behaviour, falling me along the road and with a grown sandhill crane on either side, I sure was walking quicker to try and get a way!
While this probably wasn’t what I was expecting from a connecting route, it sure made a nice change from the usual endless straight lines and fields.
Unfortunately the next segment started in a dead end, so had to walk along a part of the segment to get to the actual starting point. The Portage Canal is quite pretty as it starts off leading through a little park, passing under road and railway bridges and along paths lined with wild flowers. That is until I reached an industrial area, walking along building sites and a lot of noise. Although it was interesting to see the remains of old railway lines and factories, which probably would have made use of canal in the past. From passing building sites, I suddenly found myself walking across one as the town seems to currently be restructuring a few things, even building a new little bridge to cross the canal. After walking along a pretty little residential area I left Portage after crossing the Wisconsin River and was embarking on yet another long road walk.
Day 34 – Trail Mile 647.7
This day was the first time I ran out of water. I spent the whole day on the road connecting to the Sauk Point segment and with a few miles left the heat along the road has left me without water. I was never this happy to see my little car parked, so I could re-fill my water supply!
Day 35 – Trail Mile 647.7
A 0 trail mile day, the first one in about 2 weeks. I used the day to move my Wausau base-camp further south as with every day my drive to the starting point increased by 15 minutes I had a 4 hour round trip the past few days.
This was also the day I finally collected my final import Trail Angel – my dad!
Day 36 – Trail Mile 667.5
This was the hottest and probably most strenuous day yet, but luckily I wasn’t doing it on my own. Thanks to the company of a fellow hiker the day filled with over 20 miles and 3000 feet elevation went by quickly.
Our day started at Sauk Point which was surprisingly buggy, even though we started at about 7am, but luckily the views over open meadows and what was going to be ahead made up for it.
From here we crossed into the Devil’s Lake Segment, the first that was marked as a 5/5 for elevation in my guide book. This segment was the busiest I have seen on the trail, it sure is a popular destination, particularly on a hot Sunday on which access to State Parks is free!
This also was the hottest day of my hike so far, so I did worry a bit as to whether this was a good idea. Luckily there wasn’t much to worry about. The segment started off with only a few ups and downs on our way to the lake and then took a quick ascent up the first bluff. We were rewarded with lovely views over the lake and the descent was quick and refreshing. The same game repeated itself on the other side of the lake, although we did take a brief detour due to some navigational issues leading us down the wrong trail, which meant we had an additional ascent coming our way. At least the views were enjoyable!
The Merrimac Segment took us back onto a flatter trail along some open fields and small woods, unfortunately it also saw me encounter my first patch of southern mud, as we approached a boardwalk spanning the worst, it was rather wet in the approach.
Further along the segment, on another boardwalk above a swampy area I managed to spot a little turtle. Luckily I was hiking with someone who didn’t mind picking up random bits of wildlife, so I got a chance to have a little play with the cute baby!
The day was completed by a brief road walk to the Merrimac ferry – yes, I will be going on a boat!