Today's adventure was a wet one! There was rain in the forecast when I checked last night, and I decided I would go as long as the rain didn't last too long and it wasn't a thunderstorm. It rained on the entire drive from the cottage to the trail.
My hike was in Lincoln County north of Merrill. When I had been mapping out my bike route, google maps told me I could take a road through the New Wood Wildlife Area. The Ice Age Trail atlas showed a gate, so I wasn't sure if I could make it through. I decided to check the spot and if I couldn't get around, I would leave my car near the eastern end of the Camp 27 Segment and do an out and back on that segment. There was a gate, and I thought I could lift my bike over it, but I wasn't sure if the road did go through as google maps showed, so I did Camp 27 as an out and back.
As I parked my car and got a few things ready inside, I noticed a lot of deer flies swarming around my side mirrors. Luckily I had a bug net for my head. I had stopped at Walmart on my way to get a new one because I forgot my net in my other pack. I put my bike helmet on and then the bug net right away. I wore my rain coat and long pants since it was raining, so I didn't need any bug spray right away. It was still raining, and since I had to ride my bike, I wore a garbage bag skirt so that the spray from my bike wouldn't soak my pants. I looked a little ridiculous, but sometimes you have to do strange things to stay comfortable!
I got on my bike and headed to the eastern end of the New Wood Segment. I had to take gravel roads, and with the rain, it was a bit challenging at times. The back of my pants stayed dry though!
My bike ride was 5.67 miles and I was glad that it wasn't any longer. Had I done the original route, it would have been 9 miles.
I got started on my hike around 11:45 with my bug net in my pocket and my rain coat hanging on my head. I was too hot to continue wearing it, so hanging it on my head worked to keep me back dry. My pack was pretty dirty from the bike ride. I had quite a bit of spray and don't have a pack cover, that will be something I need to get!
It rained for quite awhile and I wore my rain coat until 1:30. I wasn't sure if it was still raining or dripping. Parts of the trail had tall grass, so my feet were soaked through after 3 miles and my pants were pretty wet too. I'm glad I wore my pant legs and didn't just do shorts. Having the full pants made a big difference even though they were wet. I did take too many pictures because of the rain even though there were many good places to take a picture.
The trail throughout both segments was pretty well marked. There were times though that I missed a blaze and went the wrong way or was unsure which way to go because of down trees and logging. A few days ago I bought the Mammoth Tracks app, and I'm glad I did! There were a few times that I had to bring up the app and check my location. I did go off the trail, and had I not had the app, it would have taken longer to fix my mistakes. I didn't have service all day, and the app still worked well just off of GPS.
The app also marks special landmarks like water spots and some geological formations. There was an esker marked on today's route, so I was looking forward to seeing that. I knew I was on the esker without needing the app. I tried to take a video of the landscape to show what an esker looks like, but I don't think it worked. It's just something you need to see in person.
It started to get nice once I was on the Camp 27 Segment. The sun came out and as I crossed the river with the beaver dam, I had a nice blue sky and a great opportunity for pictures. The Camp 27 Segment was only 3 miles, so it wasn't too bad doing an out and back.
My total mileage for the day was 13.25 miles, with 10 of those going toward my completion total. With the biking, I traveled about 19 miles. It was a good hike even though I was wet most of the time!