Day 11 – IAT Mile 164.3 to 184.2

Another day, another goodbye.  We hung out with Shauna longer and started hiking later than usual this morning.  Partly because today’s hike is shorter and partly because we didn’t want to part ways.  We haven’t had the opportunity to spend this much time with Shauna since we all lived together over a decade ago. 

Shauna the amazing Trail Angel had really gotten the routine down well in just a week of traveling solo with us.  Brianna and I use an app called Guthooks to navigate the trail, it has waypoints and comments from other hikers on water, camping, parking, etc.  Shauna purchased the maps for the IAT and used them to navigate around.  By the time she had to leave, she was planning our days and meeting us randomly throughout the trail.  We offered her an unpaid position as our trail coordinator, she declined.

We ran into our first real hikers today!  We actually ran into them at the very end of yesterday but our encounter was brief and did not warrant mentioning.  This time, we ran into them after taking a side trail down to Picnic lake for lunch; Picnic Lake a primitive camping site on Picnic Lake right at the end of Hardwood Lakes segment.

The three young ladies invited us into their space for lunch, even cleared us off a bench to sit.  We chatted while we ate, almost entirely about our hiking experiences. They had many questions and were very impressed by how small our packs are.  They seem like good people, probably our people, but we did not ask their name nor did they ask ours.  All we really know about them is that they are all friends and from Minnesota, out on an adventure together for no other reason than to spend time together.

After our brief lunch and social time, Brianna and I only hiked about .5 miles before taking another long break.  We typically take our shoes and socks off at lunch, not something we wanted to defile their beautiful lunch spot with.

The Hardwood Lake & Firth Lake segments were very hilly with fewer lakes than the Chippewa Moraine.  We were moving slowly through the woods since there was no real reason to hurry, only twelve miles scheduled for the day.  Around 2:30 or 3, Brianna started sending messages to the Ice Age Trail Facebook group, asking if anyone had ideas for where we could camp if we wanted to hike further.  A group member suggested we call the city office, so we did, and quickly learned that there is a reserved spot for Ice Age thru hikers at the state park.

Dare we hike 8 extra miles today?  We do dare.  It was late, but that could also play to our advantage with cooler temperatures.  And so we were off.  The pace, staggering.  The pain, real.  Our drive, unstoppable.  Check the picture below, those stats are with x4 breaks over those 8.1 miles in 3 hours 57 minutes.

By the time we made it to Cornell, our bodies and feet had reached their limits.  We rested on benches outside the closed Visitor’s Center before willing ourselves back up to complete the final 2 miles up to Brunet Island State park. This, my friends, is when unbelievable trail magic happened.

“Are you two walking up to the state park?” A man in a truck asked, stopping in the middle of the road.

“Yes.” We answered.

“Do you have reservations?  Do you want a ride? You should just come sleep in our basement.  We have a shower and you can do laundry.  Does that sound good to you?”

“Yes!” We answered excitedly

And that is how our night ended.  Instead of a 2+ mile trek up a hill to find a hidden camp spot, a kind man and his wife took us in.  We showered, did laundry, ate hot turkey sandwiches, drank whisky sours and had warm blueberry peach cobbler with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top for dessert.

Remember a few days ago when I mentioned how important people are when you’re on an adventure like this?  There are great people in this world just waiting to be met.  If we put ourselves out there, be vulnerable, the world may just show up.  People want to help other people succeed.  As our host for tonight said when sharing some of his past experiences, “those are the parts of our adventures that we never forget.”  

On a side note.  If anyone finds themself in Cornell, WI, thru-hiking or otherwise, go to the Main Scoop ice cream shop.  The ice cream is delicious and the people are top notch.

2 Replies to “Day 11 – IAT Mile 164.3 to 184.2”

  1. dammit. you just…dammit. i’ll save the sappy tez shit but as always you make it hard for me to keep my heavy disdain for all humans intact. what else is friendship for, right?

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