Monday, December 28, 2015

The Madison Segment of the Ice Age Trail

With temperatures just above freezing and no snow on the ground, I headed out for a brief day-after-Christmas walk on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IAT), tucked into my schedule between the weekend's holiday celebrations. After parking at the Ice Age Trail parking lot on the corner of High Point and McKee Roads, I set off to hike the Madison Segment of the IAT, located in Dane County.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hiking and Camping at Governor Dodge State Park, December 2015

On a crisp, cold December day we headed to Governor Dodge State Park in Iowa County on Wisconsin State Highway 23 to test our gear for cooler weather. We've typically avoided camping when daytime highs fall below freezing. With  a dusting of snow on the ground, and the day's high at 25°F (-4°C), we set up our 3 season tent, immediately noticing the stiffness of the fabric. Dressed with long underwear, a fleece mid-layer, and a parka, I kept warm for the most part with the exception of my feet and hands. My hands felt coldest after exposing them for cooking. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Valley View Segment and Connecting Route to the Madison Segment of the Ice Age Trail

I hiked the Valley View Segment of the National Scenic Ice Age Trail and the connecting route to the Madison Segment on a brisk November morning. The Valley View Segment meanders through woods, prairie, and oak savanna, while the road walk on the connecting route is residential for the most part. Although I had planned to push forward onto the Madison Segment, I decided to back track to the car turned back by the penetrating effect of the cold wind.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Part 2 - Connecting Route from the IATA Headquarters in Cross Plains to the Valley View Segment of the Ice Age Trail

Greeted by snow frosted trees and fields, I returned to finish the connecting route between the Cross Plains and Valley View Segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.  This stretch of road offers views of fields, farms, and lovely homes on streets with stone gates announcing stately neighborhoods - Pheasant Point, Grand View, Noll Valley and the like. A week's time made quite a difference as last week's unseasonably warm and sunny start gives way to this week's icy finish.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Connecting Route from the IATA Headquarters in Cross Plains to the Valley View Segment of the Ice Age Trail

After a wonderful season of camping, backpacking, and canoe tripping, signs of winter approach and I find myself back on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IAT). Having walked my last road miles in May, and having enjoyed quieter wilderness over the summer, I had nearly forgotten the feel of a road walk.  Two time IAT section hiker Jared Wildenradt kindly stopped to offer me a shuttle. I caught myself telling him the cars were scaring the heck out of me. He laughed and said you won't eve notice once you've got a few thousand miles under your belt.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Camping Fun at High Cliff State Park

On a cold, wet October Friday night we arrived at High Cliff State Park in the Village of Sherwood, Wisconsin for a weekend Halloween celebration. We reviewed our plan for staying as dry as one can when setting up camp on a dark, rainy night, and due to the steady rain it looked like setup and to sleep early for us. But not so fast.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest Backpacking Trip

Our daughter's school day off for teachers in-service training provided a perfect October Friday to head out for a family backpacking trip. We headed to the Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest, stopping near in Boulder Junction for lunch at the Outdoorsman before heading into the woods. The Outdoorsman appeals to my daughter with its chickens, goats and rabbit out back. The restaurant features home baked pies and farm fresh eggs. They sell homemade goods and other artsy finds. A cute place to stop.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hiking the Hartman Creek Segment of the IAT and Canoeing the Waupaca Chain O' Lakes while Camping at Hartman Creek State Park

Hartman Creek State Park is the perfect launch point for hiking the Hartman Creek Segment of the Ice Age Trail and canoeing on the Waupaca Chain O' Lakes. The park is located west of Waupaca on Hartman Creek Road, south of State Highway 54 and north of State Highway 22. Arriving just after dark on a Friday evening, we set up camp looking forward to a weekend of outdoor fun.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sylvania Wilderness Canoe Trip to Whitefish Lake

As the loons prepared to gather, and the leaves began to turn, Labor Day brought our last canoe tripping adventure of the summer to a close. Sure, we'll get a few chances to dip our paddles out day tripping. But there is nothing like canoe camping on a motor-free lake to make our plastic and concrete world go away, if only for a few short, relaxing days.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Boundary Waters 2015 - Kawishiwi Lake EP #37 to Amber Lake

We drove north with Jerry Van Diver's True and Deep - Songs for the Heart of the Paddler playing and our 7 year old singing along. I looked at my husband and smiled. With the mad dash of a long work week behind us, we found ourselves doing the very thing which seemed infinitely out of reach just a few days earlier. We were headed to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northeastern Minnesota.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

2015 Boundary Waters Backcountry Menu Plan

Fire up the dehydrator Honey, we're going for a paddle! Nothing tops delicious, home-cooked meals in the outdoors. My biggest trip preparations these days revolve around camp eats. Demands include compact, lightweight, temperature resistant foods. Adding to the challenge, my husband likes spicy foods. He also needs protein. Our daughter still loves sweet, carby foods. I don’t eat sweets and prefer not to eat too many carbs. Given palates and constraints, for our August 2015 Boundary Waters Canoe Area trip, I planned and prepped our Boundary Waters menu.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Camping at Roche-A-Cri State Park

In the mood for someplace we'd never visited before, we packed up the car and headed out to camp at Roche-A-Cri state park. The name Roche-A-Cri derives from French words meaning crevice in the rock. The park contains about 5 miles (8 km) of hiking trails, campgrounds, an observation deck atop the 300 foot outcropping at the center of the park, and a creek that can be fished. The campground contains vault toilets only and no showers. This park is small, and entirely accessible by foot from the campground. The campsites are wooded but fairly close together, and our walk-in campsite appeared to be the best in the park, number 34. This walk-in site put us further off the road offering a tad more privacy, although the neighbors on all sides were easily visible and well heard, particularly their music.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Camping, Hiking, and Paddling at Wyalusing State Park

After enjoying a work-free, blog-free July 4th hiatus from life complete with hotel rooms, a parade, fireworks, a water ski show, a stroll on the Bearskin Trail, restaurants, and a day paddle in the National Highland American Legion State Forest we felt ready to escape the crowds and get back into the outdoors. We decided to check out the little canoe trail at Wyalusing State Park. After a quick web search we learned walk-in campsites were available. We loaded up the car and off we went, with the Mississippi River on our minds and Subway sandwiches in our bellies.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Connecting Route between the Springfield Hills to the Lodi Marsh Segments of the Ice Age Trail

Cool temps and overcast skies made for a perfect day to knock out the connecting route between the Springfield Hills and Lodi Marsh Segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. After parking at the new Springfield Hills parking area, I rode my bike the 8.1 miles (13 km) to the Lodi Marsh parking area. I hiked back to Springfield Hill, hopped in the car, and returned to Lodi Marsh to retrieve my bike.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Backcountry Camping at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

As we drove to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, news images of the injured face and head of the 16 year only boy pulled from his hammock by a bear in the Great Smoky Mountains National park June 6, 2015 replayed themselves in my head like an unshakable song. If they boy's father hadn't jumped the bear, hadn't given it a few good punches, the 16 year old might not be alive today. Typically I sleep well on backpacking trips. I wondered if I would get any sleep on this trip, or if night noises and passing shadows would magically transform into bears.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Smoky Mountains 2015 Backpacking Menu & Food Prep List

One of the most important parts of a backpacking trip take place before the actual trip. We're talking food prep and menu planning. To prepare for our 4-day, 3-night trip in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I packed enough food for a week, or so it felt. My prediction, we'll eat all the snacks and breakfast food, but a number of the dry meals will be left untouched. It's just not convenient to fire up the camp stove in the middle of a hike. Especially if it's too hot, too rainy, or there's just not a good spot alongside the trail to throw down and do some cooking.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Inexpensive Lightweight Fruits and Vegetables for Backpacking, Hiking, and Paddling

Food options just keep getting better for hikers and paddlers. When I started backpacking, affordable light-weight fruits and veggies were unavailable. The best I could do were raisins and "dried" apricots along with sneaking in a fresh apple. I am delighted to report stumbling upon a great source of lightweight, low cost fruits and vegetables. Target now carries Simply Balanced™ freeze-dried fruits and vegetables for a lower price than the freeze-dried fruits and vegetables available at outdoor sporting goods stores.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

June Hike on the Gibraltar Segment of the Ice Age Trail

While hiking the Lodi Valley / Baraboo Hills Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail last winter, I decided to save a couple special miles to hike with my family. The Gibraltar Segment offers gorgeous views from the hills overlooking Lake Wisconsin. It also leads to the  Merrimac Ferry crossing on Lake Wisconsin, which happens to be a required portion of the 1,000+ miles to have officially hiked the Ice Age Trail.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

May Hike on the Springfield Hill Segment of the Ice Age Trail and the Connecting Route to Indian Lake

Clear skies and a cool early morning temperature of 40°F (4.4°C) made for perfect weather to get in a few more miles on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IAT). Parking just off Ballweg Road at the  IAT access point, I first hiked the connecting route between the Springfield Hill and Indian Lake Segments of the IAT. The  morning shade cooled the connecting route, something to keep in mind if hiking this route during summer. After backtracking to the car, I hiked the Springfield Hill segment.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sylvania Wilderness Canoe Trip

A wet, buggy canoe trip in the Sylvania Wilderness beats a dry, air-conditioned day in the rat race anytime. So off we paddled, with smiles in our hearts and bug nets on our heads. Our long weekend in the Sylvania Wilderness started out bright, sunny, and buggy.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Backpacking Shakedown Trip at Buckhorn State Park

To prepare for our upcoming Smokey Mountain backpacking trip, our family spent Mother's Day weekend doing our shakedown. We hiked just under a mile to our campsite on Castle Rock Lake. If you're new to the sport or looking to  shakedown gear, Buckhorn State Park is a great spot for a trial backpacking experience. Not far from the car for an easy bailout should things go wrong, but far enough in to enjoy a little more peace and solitude than the campground provides.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Connecting Route from Indian Lake to Table Bluff

Fragrant May blossoms and warm weather made the morning perfect for hiking the connecting route between the Indian Lake and Table Bluff Segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. If you like rolling hills and red barns, this is the walk for you. On today's walk I got scolded by a killdeer, said "hello" to passing cyclists, and spotted a coyote near Table Bluff Road. The cyclists got me thinking about leaving a bike at the end of future connecting routes to use for backtracking to the car rather than doubling up on the walking.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Car Camping, Paddling, and Hiking the Meadow Valley and Cave Trails at Governor Dodge State Park

Need a relaxing environment to test out your camping gear in preparation before embarking on summer wilderness adventures? April car camping offers moderate weather and spring's first blossoms without the summer crowds. Looking forward to the weekend, we rushed to head out Friday night after work, getting camp set up just before dark. Governor Dodge State Park is located in Iowa County near Dodgeville on Wisconsin State Highway 23.

Monday, April 13, 2015

April Hike, Paddle and Camp Out at Devil's Lake State Park

Anticipating a break in the April showers, we rushed home Friday night to head out for our first spring camping trip. Hard to say what we enjoyed the most. I loved my sunrise solo hike around Devil's Lake on and off the Ice Age Trail. This is one of the prettiest hikes in Wisconsin, but these trails tend to be jam-packed with tourists. Best times to go are early mornings, weekdays, and off-season.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

How to be a Good Green Car Camping Neighbor

Sometimes camping green and being a good camping neighbor go hand in hand. One day I realized when it came car camping, I was getting green all wrong. When camping with my cousin’s family, I noticed my family generated two full sized trash bags, while hers required a small bag that never seemed to fill. Concerned for what I was teaching my daughter, I started making changes. Now, I practice the green suggestions listed here, and I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to teach my daughter to be a good, green camping neighbor.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

March hike on the Ice Age Trail, Gibraltar Rock County Park and Connecting Routes

Sunrise hikes offer the opportunity to see more wildlife and experience a special kind of stillness. Morning's glow lights the trees in temporary shades of orange and gold before painting them their ordinary daytime browns. The stress of deadlines, business travel, and life's little worries melt away. There is nothing like a sunrise hike.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Trying to give up sweeteners and missing your granola bars? For me, foregoing granola bars on hiking and canoe trips turned out to be one of the toughest things about giving up sweeteners (sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners). Many of the "healthful" granola  bars and all of my former favorites contain sweeteners. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Hike on the Indian Lake Segment of the Ice Age Trail

Two weeks changes everything. Soft mud now replaces the hard-packed ice and snow trail cover. Caught up in the whirlwind of the first two weeks on a new job and business travel, I've missed the trail. With spring in the air and the weather a bit warmer, my family happily joined me in hiking the Indian Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

March Hike on the Cross Plains and Table Bluff Segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail

Another sunny March day beckoning, I headed to Cross Plains for a walk on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. After so many months of overcast skies, March sun and geese honking overhead provide welcome signs spring will soon arrive. Today's hike covered the Cross Plains Segment, a finish up of the Table Bluff Segment, and the connecting route between the segments.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March Hike on the City of Lodi and Groves Pertzborn Segments of the Ice Age Trail

Motivated by yesterday's increased temperatures and sunshine, I hiked the City of Lodi and Groves Pertzborn Segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail along with the connecting route that joins them. The well blazed trail proved easy to follow through both segments. The March sun and the extra effort on the hills kept me warm. What a joy to spend four hours walking in the sun after so many overcast days. A flock of migrating geese flew overhead signalling spring will soon arrive. Although I didn't see other hikers, the trail portions of the hike were well trodden and easy to follow.

Friday, February 27, 2015

What to Wear for Winter Day Hikes in Wisconsin

Winter day hikes allow us to enjoy beauty and solitude. Quiet stillness, snow on the pines, and pristine blankets of snow surround us. There is no slogging through mud, there are no ticks or mosquitoes! But it's cold if we don't dress warm enough for conditions. If we overdress, our sweat will lead to extreme cold when we stop hiking.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Connecting Route from County Road X to Levee Road

A break in the frigid weather provided the perfect February day to complete the connecting route between the Sauk Point and Portage Segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Starting mid-route from the parking area at the Lower Narrows historical marker on Wisconsin State Highway 33, I headed south to County Road X and back. Eagles and hawks soared overhead.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lodi Marsh and Eastern Lodi Marsh Segments

The Lodi Marsh and Eastern Lodi Marsh Segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail meander along ridges and wind through woods, prairie, and oak savanna. The Lodi Marsh Segment comprises 1.6 miles (2.6 km) of the Ice Age Trail, although to hike the lasso-shaped trail requires 2.1 miles (3.4 km) of hiking as a portion of the trail is a loop, and a portion requires backtracking. The Eastern Lodi Marsh Segment is 3.2 miles (5.1 km) from Pleasant Street to Lodi-Springfield Road and requires a complete backtrack.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Following my Passion - Valentine's Day 2015

As a woman in a male dominated profession I've heard it all. The minute colleagues learn I'm headed out for a wilderness adventure or even a day hike at a state park the teasing begins. Bears, snakes, and various other forms of the Boogeyman, according to the guys, lurk out there waiting to "get" me.

Eventually they get around to asking the inevitable. Why would I want to get out there in the cold-rain-heat-bugs anyhow? For love. That's why. Love. Plain and simple.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Connecting Routes on the Ice Age Trail

To date, 15,524 people have become 2,000 Milers, thru hiking or section hiking the Appalachian Trail. Less than 100 people have completed the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to become 1,000 Milers. One reason for the difference may be that the Appalachian Trail was established earlier. But there's more.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ice Age Trail Connecting Route from Parfrey's Glen to Hwy 33

An upturn in the weather provided a perfect February day to walk 14.3 miles (23 km) of the connecting route between the Sauk Point and the Portage Segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Views of old barns, the surrounding hills, and Devil's Head kept things interesting. For the first time this year, I spotted deer on my hike. Another beautiful day in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Portage Canal Segment to Levee Road

The National Scenic Ice Age Trail meanders not only through prairies and forests, but through many small Wisconsin towns. The 2.9 mile (4.7 km) Portage Canal Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail follows the Portage Canal through the city of Portage. This canal runs between the Wisconsin River and the Fox River, but is no longer functional as the river locks have been decommissioned.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pine Island State Wildlife Area and Pine Island Savanna State Natural Area

The Pine Island State Wildlife Area and Pine Island Savanna State Natural Area are part of the connecting route between the Sauk Point Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and the Portage Segment. The Caledonia Levee runs along Levee Road between the road and the Wisconsin River through the Pine Island Areas. Although there are no designated hiking trails through these areas, hiking is allowed. Today's total hike out and back was 15.5 miles (25 km).

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review - A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

In 1999, a dear friend, understanding my love for both hiking and reading, recommended I pick up a copy of A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson. I loved the book. So much so, that is has become a ritual to reread it as cabin fever sets in each winter.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Roznos Meadow, Merrimac Segment, and Connecting Route to Ferry Landing

Love the beauty of the bluffs at Devil's Lake State Park? How about the slippery ice and snow covered rocks on the ascents and descents? Two sections of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail offer fantastic views of the bluffs and surrounding hills without the slippery climb. The Roznos Meadow Trail and the Merrimac Segment provide easy hiking terrain with views of hills and bluffs in all directions.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

January Hike on the Sauk Point Trail

The Sauk Point Trail is part of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, and travels east-west between Parfrey's Glen and Hwy 113 through the Devil's Lake State Park. It is located 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Baraboo, WI. The Sauk Point Trail is 4.5 miles (7.2 km) in length according to the map, 4.2 miles (6.8 km) according to the signage at the park, but only 3.9 miles (6.3 km) according to my GPS app. If you don't bring 2 cars, plan on hiking a total of about 7.8 miles (12.6 km) out and back.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

January Hike on the Johnson Moraine Loop Trail

As I day hike my way through the Devil's Lake segment of the Ice Age Trail, I am in awe of Devil's Lake State Park's beauty, even on grey winter days. If we get much more snow, the Johnson Moraine portion of the Ice Age trail will be groomed for cross country skiing and therefore closed to hikers. Because the trail is not currently closed to hiking, I decided to hike the Johnson Moraine Loop starting from the Ice Age Trail parking area on Highway 113.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Yaktrax for the Casual Hiker Updated

I love to wear my waterproof trail runners for as many months of the year as possible. Their comfort can't be beat. They keep my feet as warm as boots, perhaps because they're waterproof. Unfortunately, they quickly lose traction on hard packed ice and snow.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tips for Getting Your Protein on Hiking, Backpacking, and Paddling Expeditions Using Inexpensive Grocery Store Foods

Protein is important on long distance hiking and paddling trips. Without adequate protein we fatigue, our muscles repair more slowly, and our immune systems weaken. Meats, dairy, beans, and nuts provide protein. Fresh meat and milk, heavy and perishable, don't work for back country adventures. Compact, lightweight, nonperishable foods fit the bill.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

How to Get Your Veggies on Backpacking and Paddling Adventures

For some hikers and paddlers, veggies are not a consideration. They burn mega-calories on long distance hikes and paddles. They require calorie dense foods, high in fats, proteins, and sugars, for fueling extreme adventures. But some of us have other nutritional objectives, or even concerns about keeping the plumbing moving. This can be especially important when camping with kids.

Monday, January 5, 2015

20 Things Three Season Hikers, Backpackers, Paddlers, and Campers Can do to Beat the Winter Blues

Get the blues during months of snow, ice, and temperatures below freezing? Eventually it feels like forever since you’ve been in camp. Cabin fever sets in. How can a three season camper beat the winter blues? Read on for Mama’s suggestions.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Day Hike 2015

Devil's Lake is the largest state park in Wisconsin, extremely busy in season, and beautiful even in January. The park is 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Baraboo, WI and contains over 29 miles (46.7 km) of hiking trails. While much of the world stayed awake until midnight New Year's Eve, I went to bed early and started 2015 the best way possible. Hiking!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Ice Age Trail

The 1,000+ mile (1,609 km) Ice Age Trail beckons from the covers of the Ice Age Trail Guide 2014 and Ice Age Trail Atlas 2014. Who wouldn't be drawn to the footpath portrayed on each book-cover. Lined by cool ferns, it meanders through serene deciduous forest. The Ice Age Trail zig zags across Wisconsin, tracing the edges of the last glaciation, heading both north-south and east-west.