Entering the Enchanted Forest

North Country Trail Angels on the Ice Age Trail

We can sleep in a tiny bit because we’re meeting Bethany and Joe at the Tug Lake parking lot at 10 and we only have 5.5 road miles to go. We say goodbye to our kayak neighbor and go on our way.

The road walk is fast and easy. It starts sprinkling so we put our pack covers on. As soon as we stand still mosquitos swarm us. It actually helps when it rains a bit more.

Just as it really starts coming down Bethany and Joe drive up and we get whisked away to breakfast in Merrill. Google suggests Kozy Corner but when we get there it  turns out to be a dive with a waitress who is ignoring us. After a few minutes we make our exit and head over to the Pine Ridge restaurant which is much better. More coffee refills than I should be drinking and excellent skillets and French toast. Bethany treats us, she’s the best! We enjoy catching up since last winter when I stayed at her house during my North Country Trail hike. We’ve stayed in touch and here she is 2 1/2 hours south of her town helping me out again. I’m so lucky!

Initially this would have been a section without easy resupply for about 150 miles. The longest food carry on the Ice Age trail. We only had to carry a few days since Rib Lake and now only two more until Little Bird’s friend comes to pick her up and we’ll go to town again!

After resupply we head back to the trail with stuffed bellies, more food than we need and home made muffins from Bethany.

We say goodbye and after a hug are on our way. The rain starts up again after a brief respite and when it stops we use our umbrellas in a windshield wiping motion trying to wipe out the mosquitos. They get more intense and soon drive us crazy. Deet, non deet, more clothes, head nets, citronella clips, we try it all. The long sleeve shirt and my brand new leggings from Walmart save my sanity. I bought the leggings to protect me from the ticks since I had mailed my long pants, that I had bought specifically for that purpose, up ahead. Not too bright! At least the leggings were only a dollar so if they get destroyed in the mud I won’t feel so bad.

After the road walk we enter the enchanted forest. I’m not kidding, there is a sign in the woods saying ‘Enchanted Forest’. My jester-like leggings fit right in. I mean, black and white checkers and blue butterflies, I could very well be a part of Alice in Wonderland and the Queen of Hearts.

We don’t dare take any breaks for fear of the mosquitos swarming us again. The mossy woods and abundance of green leaves are indeed enchanting but we need the fortress of our tent to keep us safe.

Since we are the only ones at the shelter site (yes! A shelter!) we set up the inner net tent in the shelter, dash in and finally relax.

We enjoy the muffins and the view of Dog Lake as I muster up the courage to get water to filter for dinner and tea. That chore done we watch videos on my phone from past hikes and reminisce about the Superior hiking trail last fall.

At dark, the peepers and a lone owl replace the buzzing of the mosquitos. We hope tomorrow is breezy and the blood suckers will stay away.

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