8/3 – it’s a 25 mile walk out of Baraboo, just cornfields and asphalt as far as the eye can see. No shade. This Burma-Shave style sign was the most interesting thing we saw all morning (you may have the pleasure of Googling Aldo Leopold and John Muir if you don’t know who they are!)
By mid afternoon, we reached the Wisconsin River, and walked parallel to it for the rest of the day. There is a high levee between the river and the road, and our guidebook says that this can be a very wet walk, but not today, so the mosquitoes were mercifully absent. We found a place to stealth camp by 5pm that was out of sight, as the whole area was posted as No Camping, Public Hunting and Dog Training Area.
Got up Sunday morning and walked into Portage, the third oldest settlement in Wisconsin. Portage is French for “to carry”, and here is why. Back in the day, you could put a boat in the St. Lawrence Seaway, steer through the Great Lakes and down the Fox River. Then you would have to take the boat out and carry it for a mile and a half until you reach the Wisconsin River, which flowed into the Mississippi and eventually got you down to the Gulf of Mexico. This bottleneck made the town of Portage an important town until the railroads came through and made shipping goods by water more or less obsolete.
We were too late for mass at the Catholic church, but the Episcopal service was just winding down, and we were invited in for coffee and cake. This small parish hasn’t had a priest in so many years they can’t remember, but are happy to gather weekly for morning prayer, and hire a supply priest once a month for Communion. These nice people insisted that we take home all their leftover pastry, perhaps confusing hiking with homelessness…
We’re at a groovy hotel with a stand-up comedian at the front desk (really!). This should be fun!