Day 43, Indian Lake county park, 19 miles
I resist the temptation to sleep in and get back outside to continue the walk. There are limited camping opportunities and the only one that works for me is about 19 miles away. I don’t know how hot it’ll get today and if I need lots of shade breaks so better get that early start.
I only need a day and a half of food to get me to Cross Plains and stop at the Quick Trip for resupply. To my surprise, I hear someone saying my name. It’s Luke from the Ice Age Trail Alliance! He heard from Melissa, whom I’d been talking with last night, that I was in town. If only he’d known sooner I could have stayed at his place last night. Just the thought warms my heart.
We chat for a bit, and then I buy my food. I continue my walk through town and read about the duck who became famous by nesting in a masonry flower basket downtown. There are ducks in a town mural and giant rubber ducks in a store window. Fun historic tidbit!
As I walk on I see Luke and another man and they offer me a fresh cinnamon roll and giant cookies! I just stuffed my face with a turnover, a breakfast sandwich, and a coffee drink, but how can I say no to such generosity?
I stuff the cookies in the back pocket of my backpack and walk out of town with the cinnamon roll in my hand. After five minutes I start eating it but decide I’m really overdoing it. I figure out a way to stuff it in my back pocket as well. The cookies are starting to crumble a bit and then I remember I took the shower cap from the motel room. I can wrap the goodies in there! Brilliant!
After a short walk, I enter the next trail section and it’s quite lovely. Shaded in the woods, perfect for another hot and sunny day. I still have to pace myself on the short uphills but I’m doing okay.
There are two day hikers out and two walking their dog. I pass the tent site I would have tented last night and it looks nice.
The last downhill is out in the open again and offers good views of the surrounding hills. It’s pretty out here.
As I’m walking down toward the road, I look back to see what’s on the sign I just passed and promptly put my left foot in a hole. My ankle twists and I fall to the ground. Ouch! I take my pack off and sit there for a while. It’s not terribly painful, so I hope I’m OK. It makes me realize once again how one move could be the end of a hike. When I eventually get up, my ankle feels OK, and I walk it off. Phew!
I now walk a semi loop through more grass and some trees and about a mile and a half later come back to the road only about 1/4 mile south of where I crossed it earlier. Taking the scenic route for sure!
Now I have a long road walk. It’s sunny with a strong breeze. So strong that I can’t use my umbrella for shade. But it cools me off enough that it’s bearable. Two bicycle riders pass me by and they tell me that they bike the road sections of the trail and hike the rest. That’s the way to do it in my opinion! Their car support drives by a bit later and offers me more water. Yay!
After meeting them, I start a long, slow uphill, and I’m dragging. My pack is heavy with water since I’m still carrying about 3 1/2 liters. The wind is wearing me out a bit and I’m listening to podcasts to distract myself.
I’m walking through farmlands and the tall grasses are swaying with the wind. There are big barns with cows in them. And sheds with hay. It really is quite picturesque.
When I’m about 2 miles from the next trailhead, I need a sit-down break, and just as I’m about to sit down in the grass the three ladies drive by. They tell me they have a chair for me to sit in. Before I know it I’m sitting in a camping chair surrounded by the three ladies asking me about my hike. I feel like a queen! I drink my water, they offer me some grapes, and I relax. So fun!
After chatting some more they tell me to look them up when I get near their town closer to Milwaukee. That sounds great!
Reenergized by my new friends, I walk the two miles to the trailhead where I promptly take another break. It’s my reward for walking a mile and half loop trail that starts and ends here. It hosts a campsite, but I don’t need one and I don’t feel like hiking this loop. Hence the reward.
I lay down my pad in the patch of shade provided by the trailhead kiosk. It’s wonderful. I only have about 3 more miles to go for the day, and it doesn’t get dark until 8:30, so I just lounge. I make some phone calls, message some friends, and generally just relax. Aaaah!!!
The last three miles have more road walking and one busy highway crossing. Luckily there were some good gaps in the traffic so I make it across safely. I pass by the turn off to the next trail section since it’s a bit obscure but I realize it quickly and backtrack. A mowed section of grass leads to the historic Matz farmhouse. In the grass, I notice someone has made a 700-mile marker out of yellow grass. Neat!! Happy 700 miles to me!
A short while later I reach the picnic pavilion which has picnic tables and restrooms and a water bottle filling station. Wonderful!
I install myself on the concrete so I can stretch my legs and cook my dinner. A group shows up and uses the grill on the other end to have a cookout. No quiet break here for me but I do get offered a slice of watermelon. I’ll take it! After dinner and filling up my bottles I move on to the warming hut about 1/4 mile further and set up my tent. There is no breeze here but it eventually cools off enough to be comfortable.
Lighting bugs!!! I love lighting bugs!!!
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