8/12 – just a quick note to let you know that it was 56 degrees here this morning, with a wind-chill factor! We left the hotel for our morning walk, turned around and went back for our long pants and fleece jackets. Brrr!
Even so, it was a lovely day for exploring the Leeve Trail. The clouds were phenomenal!
8/13 – saw the news of flash floods on Long Island, New Jersey and along the coast. Hope everyone is safe and dry…
8/7 – we left Portage to hike to our next stop north. Our plan was to do a full day’s road walk, spend one night on the ground, and then continue our road walk on to Westfield. At this point of the Ice Age Trail, there is no ‘trail’, only road walk.
It was another beautiful, sunny day. We distracted ourselves by playing Cloud Animals as we walked – what does this one look like to you?
By late afternoon, we were starting to look for a stealth camping place, when a friendly couple working out in their yard called us over to chat. We explained about the Ice Age Trail, and how we were planning on sleeping on the ground that night, as we were too far from Westfield. They asked why didn’t we stay at the motel in Oxford just down the road? Our map didn’t show a motel anywhere close by, but Jean looked up the number for us and gave us directions. Thanks again, Nice People of Wisconsin!
I know Jim was looking forward to putting up our little tent one more time, but I was very happy to rest on comfy pillows after a hot shower. Our days in Wisconsin are drawing to a close, and Westfield will be our last stop.
Next morning we walked into Westfield, a tiny town with a Pioneer motif.
Here’s a sign you don’t see on Main Street every day – I just know this will be a classy place!
8/6 – Today we learned about Portage history. Did you know that Winnebago translates as People Of the Stinking Water? Portage once had a military presence – Fort Winnebago – that was once staffed by a young Jefferson Davis. The main work of the fort was to remove the Ho Chunk Indians from their lands and ship them further west. Unfortunately, the Ho Chunk kept coming back, so the fort was decommissioned and then it burned down. Here ends the lesson.
The only building that remains of the fort (now a gas station) is the Surgeons Quarters, so we took the short tour.
Then we walked along a very pretty trail along the Portage Canal.
The canal, though stagnant, was a lovely shade of green.
Did you know that Juliette Lowe, founder of the Girl Scouts, came from Portage? Now you know!
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!