Hiking with a family support team changes the game. Brianna and I only have to carry as much weight as we want, Penny cooks breakfast and dinner, the day ends with a car ride back to base camp where our tent is setup and the beer is still cold. What’s happening right now is more like glamping than it is camping. Luckily our goal is about the hiking rather than the tent pitching.
There are downsides to a support team as well. Brianna and I are at the whim of four other people and their needs to poop, prepare, do all of the their camp chores. Managing a group of people just takes more time, a bit more love and care.
The pluses of having these friends around do outweigh the minuses. Firstly, Penny’s blueberry pancakes. Secondly, this is the group that got Brianna and I into hiking. 10 years ago this past July 4th, Penny, Curt, Brianna & I hiked Pike’s Peak together. We carried way too weight much for that trip and had no idea what the F we were doing. Frozen sloppy Joes to Barr camp? Insanity. Since then, we have done many successful hikes across many trails. Being together on this culmination of adventure knowledge and preparation is fitting. Experiences are really better when shared, hopefully more visitors make their way out in the next couple of months.
Our hike started with a 4 mile road walk today. Brianna & I are aiming to hike the entire trail, which includes the trail miles and the connecting road routes, so we can’t skip any parts. Everyone else unanimously decided to start hiking after the road walk, where the Gandy Dancer meets up with the IAT. It worked well in that we met up later down the trail and hiked the remaining 9ish miles together.
From the Ice Age Trail guidebook:
“The crushed limestone–surfaced trail was converted from the abandoned Soo Line railway. The name “Gandy Dancer” was chosen to honor the men who built and maintained railroad tracks. “Gandy dancers” used tools manufactured by the Gandy Manufacturing Company and, while working, followed songlike calls and melodies that helped synchronize the swinging of tools and the movement of feet as they “danced” to the next rails. The GDST connects with the North Country National Scenic Trail south of the city of Superior.”
I wouldn’t normally do a copy and paste from the guidebook but it’s pretty interesting info that I wouldn’t be able to paraphrase nearly as well as they wrote it. And also, the trail today was super flat and uneventful. The Gandy Dancer part of the IAT is so flat and so well maintained that I didn’t have to look down at my feet while I walked. I’ll post a picture at the bottom, it shows how the entire 10ish mile stretch looked today. The Gandy Dancer is actually a hiking, biking, snowmobile trail. We saw about a dozen bikers, zero other hikers.
I have my first blisters of the trail, one on each of my pinky toes. Switching to my new Merrell MQM’s for tomorrow. They are half a size up and ready to rock. The shoes I have been wearing are the same MQM model, just a few years older with around 400 miles on them.
After the trail has helped show us the character of northwest Wisconsin. Curt and I went to buy wood and ice for the camp, but quickly realized that we had bought more wood than we could carry. The bartender, who we bought the wood from and had never met before, offered to let us drive her brand new Jeep back to our camp for transporting the wood. Before we knew it, the bartender and a gentleman camper were arguing about who would get to help us. Good times.
Tomorrow we hike to Straight Lake Dam!