This weekend’s adventure started Friday night. Usually we drive to our hike Sat morning, but we decided to drive up north on Friday. We arrived at the west end of the Jerry Lake Segment around 9:45 pm and hiked in less than a quarter of a mile to a primitive camp site. Setting up the tent was pretty easy by head lamp, but once in the tent we were roasting. We brought along my camping fan than hangs from the ceiling, but it was a bit broken, so it didn’t always work. Jared figured out a way to hang it so that it would blow air. I fell asleep after awhile and woke up off and on. I actually got a bit cold in the middle of the night. My arms were clammy from being sweaty, so that made me feel cold.
We got up around 7, packed up, then Jared dropped me off at the beginning of the Mondeaux Esker Segment, which was 20 miles by car east of where we camped. On our way there we stopped at an artesian well and I filled up my hydro flask (which I leave in the car, I don’t hike with that heavy thing!) While waiting, I hoped to see some deer with their fawns again, but I only saw some adult deer in the distance.
We started at the Chequamegon Forest and headed west. (If you don’t know how to say that (most people don’t) go to MissPronouncer.com) As we started hiking, it didn’t take long to get sweaty! I didn’t take many pictures because the ground was so uneven that I was constantly looking down or needing to keep my hands on my poles to steady myself. We saw a porcupine ahead of us, but I couldn’t get a picture because there was too much foliage. We also saw a hawk or falcon, I’m not sure which. I head a strange bird sound and when I looked up, it took off from a tree. We met a couple hikers along the way. One was Kathy, who was on the Thousand Miler Facebook page and had a goal to finish the trail in 30ish days (I can’t remember exactly what she said). The other was a guy who wasn’t interested in talking, but I noticed he had an Old Fashioned t-shirt and I started thinking about all my favorite things at the Old Fashioned. I always get an old fashioned, cheese curds, and the burger with an egg on it. I thought about food for awhile, which is always a sign that I’m hungry!
Lunch was at the Mondeaux Dam Recreation Area, about 7 miles into the hike. In the past Jared said there was a restaurant, but it was closed. Luckily there was a little snack shop open. We got ice cream, pop, iced coffee, and water to go with our lunch. The recreation area had a beach and there was quite a few campgrounds in the area. After lunch we continued on our way and traveled along the Mondeaux Esker! This part of the hike ended at the end of the segment for a total of 11.88 miles. It was around 3:30 and my weather app said it was 88 but felt like 97. This was the first time I ever drank all my water in my 3 liter bladder!
We went to get the moped, filled up our bladders at the well and went back to where we ended. Jared left me there and shuttled the car to our ending point, the west end of Jerry Lake where we camped. We would be hiking the Jerry Lake Segment for a couple miles to a campsite and then finishing it the next day. While I waited for Jared, it was thundering so I was getting my pack ready for the rain. It was forecasted to rain a few hours that night and then again for most of the next day. A family came out of the woods from the part of trail we had yet to do. I said hi and the lady asked if I knew how far it was to Picnic Point. My initial thought was that Picnic Point is in Madison not up here. I was unaware of any of the names of places in the area. She showed me her Ice Age Trail map and then I looked it up on my app. Yup, this place also had a Picnic Point, which was 2 miles away. This family didn’t think they would make it there because they were tired. They had been hiking all day and had gotten lost. They were thinking about camping just off the parking lot for the night and hiking the rest of the way the next day.
I was glad to see Jared and get going since it as thundering more. We had 2.6 miles to hike to the first primitive campsite with our overnight packs. We had talked about maybe going to the second site 4 miles farther down the trail, but we didn’t know how long the rain would hold out, so we stayed at the first site. We got the tent set up and our stuff in the tent just as the wind picked up and it started raining. The rain was heavy for awhile, but it wasn’t a down pour and it didn’t lightening, at least not that I noticed. We had supper in the tent, boiling water outside the tent, and went to bed by 9pm. The day’s total was 14.48 with probably the hottest temperatures I’ve ever hiked in.
I went to bed without my sleeping bag because it was so hot, but woke up around midnight and felt cold, so I got it out and covered up with it. Each time I woke up I didn’t hear the rain and when we got up in the morning it still wasn’t raining. We were out of the tent by 6 or 6:15. We had breakfast, packed up and were on the trail by 7:30.
We got really lucky today because it didn’t rain at all while we were hiking. I felt pretty good starting out. The trail was uneven and zig zagged around for awhile. There were also many times we had to go around muddy spots or down trees. With the heavier packs and all the debris, we were hiking at a 25 minute pace. Along the way we passed some more primitive sites. I mentioned that it was a good idea that we stopped at the first site last night as we got to the second site. We would have been soaked had we continued to the second site. Part of the trail followed the Hemlock Esker, which was neat. In spots you could really see it slope down on both sides. We did not encounter any other hikers, but we did come upon the nature therapy people. We stopped for a small lunch and then finished the last three milestone a total of 12 miles. I was pretty tired by the end, but not as tired as I have been on longer weekends.
With the completion of the weekend’s hike I only have 1 hike left for a total of 15 miles at the Western Terminus at Interstate State Park in St Croix Falls!