Tuesday, May 12, 2015

IAT Hike: How I planned it.

So you've seen my picture dump, and my itinerary, my recounting of the trail and my post-trail thoughts, and I though today you might be interested in how I planned it. It all began with the very vague awareness of a number of parks I've camped near being situated near the Ice Age Trail. Turns out that a couple of them I had actually been mis-remembering, and they are actually near the (far less interesting) military ridge trail. Said trail DOES connect to the ice age, but it lacks a lot of the considerations that the Ice Age Trail possesses. It's not a national scenic trail, and does not aspire to be. I actually don't understand how anyone would actually be expected to traverse it entirely on foot, as it lacks anywhere to stop and camp. But I'm getting off-topic here. Knowing, then, that the IAT passed through, or near several familiar campgrounds, and most conveniently, through one of the nearest campgrounds to me I decided to use that as my starting point. I would find a spot roughly 10 miles out from the park, and walk my way in. I decided that I wanted a base camp to return to, so that I would not have to tend camp after a day of exhaustion. It was quite simple to convince Bob to play that role. Really did not have to twist his arm hard at all to talk him into a spring camping trip.

Next came the IAT Guidebook, put out by the Ice Age Trail Alliance. An inter-library loan got it into my hands, and I began planning. Erroneously I initially set my sights on starting in Iola. Until I noticed that the relatively short segment of trail there led to a 13 mile connecting road stretch, longer than my entire executed hike. Revising that, I wound up with the trip you saw me describe already. The guidebook is one I intend to purchase, and it seemed quite worthwhile for planning anything like this, particularly since the Ice Age Trail is only roughly 50% complete and you'll need to plan accordingly. I have difficulty envisioning how anyone actually through-hikes the entire thing, primarily because something like two thirds of it does not afford camping along the trail. I also obtained through the library, the IAT Atlas. The maps from this were vital to my naigating the trail, though the same information was represented, albeit a bit smaller, in the guidebook. I was glad for the larger map pages however, and would definitely plan to employ them again.

Finally it came down to choosing a time. And the main consideration for that was weather. Everything else I could influence, but I was at nature's mercy for weather considerations. I kept an eye on Weather Underground's forecasts and once the right conditions presented themselves, I went for it. Other than that, Reddit, OutdoorGearLab, and obsessively prowling for information got me informed on what I'd need and what I'd want to bring with me.

Would I recommend the guidebook? Definitely. Would I recommend the atlas? Possibly. I did fine just making photocopies, but I can certainly see occasions where it'd be handy to own the whole thing. Where's my next stop? the Harrison Hills segment.

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