7/1 – we really missed a storm last night! This morning there were branches and trees down everywhere we looked, and some folks lost electricity. We are looking forward to completing the 30 mile stretch to Delafield with one or two nights out, and no more storms.
We started with a road walk that took us around Pike Lake, then off into the woods. I’m not posting lots of pictures of the trail through the woods, as they all look the same, even to me. See previous posts for nice woods pix…
I asked Jim to stand by one of cornfields we passed on the road. When we arrived in June, the corn was just starting to come up, and although it is not quite as high as an elephant’s eye, it sure has made progress in three weeks!
We started on the next trail section, designated on our map as Holy Hill, but we couldn’t get past all the poison ivy, so we ended up road walking some more. I was kind of glad to miss that section, as I imagined it involved a heckuva hill climb, so steep that it made people exclaim, “Holy Hill!”
By lunchtime, we could see two giant spires in the distance, and signs for the Basilica of Holy Hill, which was, indeed, on a heckuva hill. If we were in Europe, this definitely would be on my “must see” list of attractions, so why not here? We left our packs by a picnic table, and trudged up to see Holy Hill, Shrine of Mary, which is maintained by Carmelite friars.
Here is a chapel where prayers are answered. Outside the door were dozens of crutches and braces, left by those who no longer needed them. There was a prescription to follow, that a supplicant should walk up the 178 steps to the chapel before entering to voice their prayer to Mary. We’ve seen several of these chapels in our travels, and they always have a profound effect on me.
At the basilica, we got into a conversation with the Hample sisters, who recognized us as backpackers, even without our packs. Jim, seeing an opportunity, told them to be sure to pick us up if they saw us walking along the road. They laughed and said they were going to Milwaukee, in the opposite direction.
We got back on the trail and completed the Holy Hill section, which put us back on the road for more road walking. At the end of the afternoon, who should pull up, but the Hample sisters! Returning from their afternoon in Milwaukee, they asked if we still needed a ride, and took us about four miles to our next trail entrance. Coincidence, or answer to Karen’s prayer? You decide!
We walked until 5, climbing over, scooting under, or crashing through several newly downed trees that blocked our narrow trail. Just as we were looking for a stealth camping site for the night, we came upon two Ice Age Trail volunteers, out after work with handsaws to start clearing storm debris. Thank you, Trail volunteers, for all you do!
7/2 – woke up snug in our bug-proof tent, to a grey, drizzly day. Before too long, our feet were wet, and I was feeling crabby. Our road walk took us into Hartfield, an upper crust enclave of manicured lawns and Mc Mansions. The trail here meandered along paved paths in and out of local parks, next to a golf course and along a river. Even though it was 60 degrees and raining, there were kids splashing and playing in the water as if it was… Oh yeah, it IS July! The ritzier the neighborhood, the grubbier, wetter and smellier I felt. We arrived at Delafield, not a moment too soon, so we didn’t need a second night out. Yay! Time to do laundry!