Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail ~ Part 7

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It had taken us an hour to get a hitch into Rhinelander to see the infamous Hodag. We checked in at around 9 am and were allowed to engage in the essentially all you can eat breakfast. Have you ever had a frozen cheese omelet? Well, I had three for three consecutive mornings. The people in Wisconsin are wonderful. Stacey went to the supermarket at Trigs and someone stopped to offer her a ride. On the way back, another lady insisted on driving her back to the motel. When we left the motel in the late morning, we first stopped at a Bakery Outlet to buy bagels. Well, the wonderful clerk insisted we take as much food as we wanted from a clearance section for free. Then it was off to Trigs to actually buy something healthier. Just as we were about to grab our last supplies off the shelf, a couple associated with the Ice Age Trail saw us wearing our backpacks and asked if we desired a ride 15 miles back to the trailhead where we had left off. Life is simply wonderful and the universe truly provides upon request. 

Trail turned into road and back into trail again. A Bassett Hound came scampering out with his short legs to follow us from his home without even a bark coming from his mouth. He was sad however when we insisted that he had to go home and couldn't follow us across the Prairie River. The water was only a little over ankle deep, even though it rained and showered over the last two days. 

At Townline Lake, a spotted sandpiper bobbed it's behind up and down as it patrolled the shoreline for snacks. Warblers sang and Northern Flickers drilled their bills often into the ground or grass perhaps in search for worms and insects. They should get some extra grubs in them since it may drop below freezing once again. 

In the early morning it actually snowed a tad, and so we slept in till the sun peaked it's head out like a groundhog saying that spring is around the corner. A road walk through Bogus Swamp made us feel like dry footed tourists in a persistent land of wet water. An evening grosbeak flew across the trail as if to shift our attention away from its nearby nest. An arboretum at Jack's Lake taught us some new trees such as Basswood with its heart shaped leaves. Beaked Hazel and it's future nuts often lines our route. It's so cold that Stacey is using socks as gloves. 

We were pleased and surprised to meet Jim who was hiking westbound that started his trek on April 8th. White tailed deer darted in all directions while a large shiny black bear didn't hear us approaching, and so we got to watch him investigate and smell a tree for several minutes until it got wind of us. We walked into the dark having had 28 miles under our feet for the day. 

Frosting overnight, a barred owl hooted excitedly that the sun was rising after many days of cloudy skies. Baker Lake was busy with birds singing and foraging. A vireo crossed our path while later an indigo bunting brightened our day by chasing away the blues. The Kettlebowl Ski Area actually had a real hill that was perfect for bunny slopes. But we did quick work of a 15 mile road walk into Antigo which completed a 27 mile day. Apparently, we stirred up someone's imagination in that someone who saw us walking on the highway called a friend of theirs in town who promptly jumped on his motorcycle to intercept us with a barrage of positive questioning. From Antigo, we begin a more southerly route through the heart of Wisconsin with over 400 trail miles now behind us.

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