We left the house today a little before 7 to head up north, north of Eau Claire near Rice Lake. The weather forecast said we would get rained on at some point, but how much and how heavy was unknown. Jared and I met up with Todd and we started at the Timberland Hills ski area. This was a cross country ski trail area, and it was really nice. I have found many nice areas to go cross country skiing as I’ve hiked the Ice Age Trail! The map had a bathroom marked, but the bathroom was inside the warming shelter, which was locked.
Todd started off first as we finished getting our packs out. As we got started, we found Todd’s trail map lying on the ground about 20 feet from the car. 😆😆 We caught up to him about a mile or so later and he was looking for his map.
At about mile 3 it started to rain. We stopped to put our pack covers on and it really started to rain hard. Luckily it took us long enough that the rain slowed by the time we were ready. Jared and I were ahead of Todd and still in the ski area when we realized we couldn’t find a blaze. Jared checked the app, and we were off the trail, so we turned around. We were quite a ways off, and looking at the map now, we walked an extra 3/4 of a mile out and back, so we were about .37 off the trail.
It was raining pretty hard by this time and soon I was soaked all the way through my clothes. The Timberand Hills segment ended at a road walk and it was still raining, but it was letting up a bit. It was also windy, so now that we were out of the woods, we could really feel the wind. A truck pulled over by us and asked if we were hiking the Ice Age Trail and wanted a ride back to the car. We declined and the guy said he did a lot of hunting and used the Ice Age Trail a lot. He drove off and then came back to say that he saw Todd ahead of us. As we progressed, we came upon a cemetery that had a sign that said “no burials without authorization”. I wonder if they’ve had a problem with this! Jared shared some of his lunch with me, including half of a king sized Snickers bar. We caught up to Todd again and walked together to the start of the Grassy Lake Segment.
By now the rain had stopped for a bit, so I changed clothes. I took off my wet purple coat and shirt and put on long arm sleeves and my pink rain coat. The purple coat was waterproof, but after a down pour, it was like being in a washing machine, so it was no longer dry. My hands were really cold and I had a hard time bending my fingers and pulling on my arm sleeves. It helped to wear some dry clothes even though my pants were still wet. I also got out my lunch and had some of that.
Soon after this it started to rain again! It down poured another time and I was once again soaking wet. The Grassy Lake was overall pretty wet and we walked through a lot of puddles and ankle deep water. There was even a few areas where the trail was rerouted to go around flooding, a few small and one large reroute. At some point we caught up to Todd again and continued ahead of him. At another point Jared checked the map and said we had 10 minutes to go. I thought that we had 2.5 miles to go, so I said I didn’t want to think we only had 10 minutes because if we didn’t and it took longer it would make it feel even longer. Well, my brain still thought that we were almost done, so around every corner I hoped to see the car. I picked up speed hoping to get done quicker and didn’t find the end. Two miles later (about 40 minutes of hiking), I finally saw the car and was so happy. I was exhausted and just wanted to be done! I walked out to the road to make sure I connected to where we had started last time and then headed to the car. I was so glad to be done! Jared caught up to me a few minutes later and then we went back to the start to get Todd’s car.
Jared went back to get Todd and I headed to the hotel. I’m really glad we decided to stay in a hotel! We had considered camping, but since there was rain forecasted we decided on the hotel. It would have been horrible sleeping outside.
Today’s mileage total was 17.12 in 6 hours and 8 minutes. We had pie and supper at the Norske Nook, washed our clothes at the hotel and sat around. Tomorrow is another 17 mile day and then Monday we’re doing another chunk to the east, but I’m not sure how much.