|the sound of busy traffic and a view of subdivisions|
This is the hardest post I've ever had to write. I want to say some things that other people are most likely going to be upset about. First, as I mentioned before, I got a ride to a drop off point which was great because then I only had to walk to my car. The not so great part? I was led to believe I was getting a hiking buddy, when that ended up not being the case. I was given a set of options, and told the driver I wanted to do something fun, that I really wasn't interested in walking on roads, didn't do that well in the heat. I also said that I didn't intend to complete the entire trail, didn't care about every tenth of mile, and was willing to do anything from 4 to 10 miles. I didn't get a lot of advice, was shown a handful of maps, and when I chose to finish the Verona segment and start on the Montrose segment I believe that would have been the opportune time to say, "But, Pam, there really are a lot of road miles on that one, maybe something else would better suit your style". What I got was, "You know that's about 10 miles, right? Okay, well I'll drop you off because I'm going somewhere else."
|Ah, the roar of semis and the stench of exhaust fills the air|
I got dropped exactly where I left off and for the first mile walked alongside a busy road and then crossed over a busy highway. I was never so delighted to see the entrance into a wooded area in my life!
|mosquitoes and False Solomon's Seal were abundant|
I wasn't in the woods of the Prairie Moraine Park very long when I came out in to a prairie area that was very nice and the segment ended at a dog park. For this 2 mile long section at the end of the Verona segment half of it was enjoyable anyway. But now I had road in front of me and the heat was starting to get to me.
From there I was on foot alongside a fairly busy road again (semi truck blew my hat off and I had to go chasing it) but I did get 10 seconds of joy when I spotted a small flock of sheep.
I got on some side roads and roasted in the near 80F heat trudging along on asphalt...for almost an hour and a half. I kid you not. Total "connecting" route between the Verona and Montrose segments was 2.9 miles, something I did not realize or I would never have chosen this plan. No shoulder either, so I was literally walking in the road, and to top it all off it went up and down a series of fairly steep hills. Things could have been worse, at least I wasn't carrying any camera equipment, just my iphone because my battery had died for my Canon.
|Now haunting my nightmares - The Montrose Segment|
I thought I'd be happy to see the bike trail that began the Montrose segment, but I was wrong. I spent 15 minutes with my shoes and socks off on a bench trying to cool off my feet, and then began another hour and a half of walking on the most boring bike trail ever designed. The picture above? That was it, at least 4 miles of exactly what you see there, no variation whatsoever. No wildflowers, no curves, nothing but mile after mile of weeds lining the dirt track that was packed down as hard as concrete. I thought I was going to lose my mind. It was all I could do not to cry, to be honest. So hot, and so ugly with nothing to distract me from how miserable I was.
|Thankfully I had a hiking stick to pull back most of them|
When I finally turned off the bike path I thought I'd be elated, but it was just a mown path that circled a corn field until it ducked into the trees where I was simultaneously attacked by mosquitoes and thorny plants for half a mile. I don't know which drew more blood.
Half a mile left to go and I could see the parking lot where my car was the whole time because I was on the f*#*ing asphalt again. Pure torture. I completed 10.5 miles in 4.5 hours and I can't remember the last time I was so unhappy. Only accomplishment of the day was that I finally remembered to use the Endomondo app on my phone to track my mileage but it sucked back battery like crazy and I only had 10% battery remaining.
So, no more roads. If I want to see Wisconsin from the asphalt I will get in my car. If I want to use a bike trail through nowhere I will use my bike. I hike to connect with nature and there was absolutely none of that going on. Remember those 447 "connecting route" miles that are part of the Ice Age Trail that I mentioned at the beginning? That doesn't even count the segments where the trail is incomplete and it tosses you out onto the road for less than a mile. I was generous and let those be counted as trail miles. I can deal with a half mile on the road before heading back in, but what the heck is all this about? Who are these people who are walking on the roadside for 500 miles (33 miles between the Elkhart Lake and City of Manitowoc segments alone!!) to claim they accomplished the whole "trail"?
Something else the Ice Age Trail does is in lieu of a trail it takes you through "trail towns". Okay, a mile through a quaint downtown and then back in to the woods or prairie is one thing, but some of these trails go for miles through some of the ugliest areas with absolutely no value to a hiker whatsoever. I'll give you an example tomorrow when I introduce you to an experience I had a few weeks ago in Portage, another post I've been dreading writing because I didn't know what to say about how awful it was.