My original plan was to hike the Superior Trail this fall, but for a variety of reasons I could not make it work. Hopefully next spring I can fit it in.
As you may or may not know, I had the inside half of my right knee replaced in 2006 and really have not tested it to see if it could stand up to long-distance hiking of 25 - 30 mile days. I have plans for another thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail Hike in 2012 (I originally hiked it in 2002). The Superior Trail would have been the perfect place to test my knee. I would be close to home in case I had trouble and had to leave the trail.
So, unable to make the Superior Trail work, I settled for 3 and half days of hiking the Ice Age Trail. I hiked two different parts of the trail. First, the 30-plus mile section in the Kettle Moraine area in the southwestern part of Wisconsin. This is a beautifully groomed part of the trail as you can see by my pictures. From what I can tell, this is probably the best section of the trail and I recommend it to anyone. It could be done in a day, or stretched out comfortably over 3 days. I got there late on a Friday, hiked until dark and finished the following day.
After finishing this section I decided to go north and hike the last 30-plus miles of the trail from outside Cumberland, Wisconsin to its end along the Mississippi River north of St. Croix Falls, WI.
This section of the trail was really a snowmobile / ATV trail that was not well marked as I found out in a hurry. About two miles into my hike this snowmobile trail forked in two different directions. Here the correct way to go was marked with a yellow blaze mark and Ice Age Trail marker. No problem, until in a mile I came upon a three-way intersection with no yellow blaze markings or Ice Age markers. Of course I did not have an Ice Age Trail map, so I had two choices. I could turn around and go back or I could make a good guess as to which way to go. Really the only choice was the guess, for I hate retracing my steps!
So I made a choice and spent the rest of this overcast / rainy afternoon walking in circles on a maze of snowmobile trails! But as Hoff luck would have it, just before dark I happened upon a yellow Ice Age Marker! All is well once again.
It rained most of that night and was pouring the next morning when I started out. I really must be getting old for usually I enjoy such a miserable test, but this morning I was thinking, maybe I've tested my knee enough! I had cell service and was thinking of calling my cousin Gary Hoff who lived in the area to come and get me, but there was one problem, I was not sure where I was! So I continued on. Again, as Hoff luck would have it, I ran into a soaked bowhunter who also had enough. After few laughs about each other's "common sense" he was nice enough to get me back to my car and this drowned rat headed home.
Good news is my knee held up better than I thought. So, I look forward to giving it an even better test next spring with the hope of hiking the Superior Trail. If all goes well, sights will be on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2012! Although, sitting in my Lazy Boy Chair next to the fireplace feels real good right now!