Ice Age Trail - May 2021

Sun 06 March 2022

Kristin and I had planned to hike from the east end of the Kettlebowl Segment to the west end of the Underdown Segment, a total of about 83 miles that we figured would take 7 days, 6 nights. We arranged to stay in Merrill the night before the hike. We got my mom a room at the hotel as well, and the next morning she gave us a ride to our starting point.

All went well the first couple days, but with some rain, my feet got wet and more or less stayed wet after that. At camp the 2nd night, I discovered a blister on the bottom of my right foot. It didn't seem too bad, and the next morning I taped it up. We continued to Camp Susan - a really lovely 4H camp! - and camped there near the lake. By then, I had developed a blister on my left foot as well, and was not doing so great. On the 4th day, with retaped feet, we tromped on until we got to Town Line Lake. The weather was threatening to bring more rain. With my feet in bad shape, and with the prospect of more wet, we decided to bail out there, and called a cab to bring us back to Merrill. We made about 48 miles, so we were pretty much on pace, and would have completed our plan if not for my feet.

Why did my feet get all blistered? I had decided to try a using my trail-style shoes instead of hiking boots for this hike, and at first I thought, and Kristin agreed, that the shoes were causing the blistering. But when the blisters got worse, we decided instead that it had to be due to my recently diagnosed case of hand, foot and mouth virus, which I was still dealing with in the form of a very rashy and itchy back. I had asked the diagnosing doctor two weeks prior to the hike whether I should take the hike or not, and he said sure, as long as I could stand it. So, we went for it, and I think I did pretty well under the circumstances. (And as for how I got hand, foot and mouth... well, that's another story!)

My mom dropped us off here in the morning.
After lunch it began raining lightly, and we decided rain ponchos were in order.
Leaving Kettlebowl. With our rain ponchos, we looked like big yellow hunchback creatures!
Leaving our campsite at Baker Lake on day 2.
Making good progress, on to Lumbercamp.
You'd think we were having fun, and you'd be right!
Peters Marsh was pretty cool. Some mushy ground, but we made it through without much additional wet.
Another segment finished, a new one to come.
Campsite #2 at Upper Ventnor Lake, cooking supper.
Upper Ventnor Lake as seen from the campsite.
Beatiful day, beautiful trail!
Made it to the park at Jack Lake. Had a long lunch break, washed up a bit, refilled on good clear well water.
Lovely terrain!
Third camp at the 4H Camp Susan. With Covid, it was completely vacant. There was running water though, and we were able to wash up and refill.
West Branch Eau Claire River. It's more of a creek! We rested and snacked here next to the water.
Townline Lake, the end of the trail for us. My feet were too blistered to continue, and more rain was in the forecast. We bailed out here.
Waiting at Townline Lake Wayside for a cab to take us back to Merrill.