Wausau nurse completes hike of Ice Age Trail

Updated: May. 16, 2021 at 6:14 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Yolanda DeLoach knew when COVID-19 halted travel throughout the country that she wouldn’t be able to travel to hiking destinations like she was used to. That’s when she remembered that Wisconsin has one of only 11 National Scenic Trails in the country contained entirely in its borders.

The Ice Age Trail snakes from St. Croix Falls in the west, south through Madison, and then back north again to Potawatomi Park near Sturgeon Bay.

The trail is unfinished, and roads link the various marked sections. Other portions cross private property.

“Some of the trail segments do go through actual cities like Janesville, Manitowoc, Two Rivers. You do experience all of Wisconsin,” DeLoach said.

DeLoach is a part-time registered nurse at Aspirus Wausau. She regularly has clusters of 12-hour shifts, followed by extended periods of time off. She used these three to eight day stretches to hike the trail in segments.

“Segment hiking is going out and doing one or various segments at a time, and doing that over and over until you’re complete,” DeLoach said.

Deloach hiked the southern part of the journey in the winter, when campgrounds often weren’t open.

“I tented in people’s yards that offered their yards, land, somebody offered their land and said I could sleep in their deer stand if I wanted to even, and garages, because garages were kind of a nice way to social distance,” DeLoach said.

Deloach says the experience was worth all the effort.

“There were some personal reasons I had for setting out on the trail that kind of coincided with COVID and it was just something I felt I needed to do,” she said.

The trail is managed by the National Park Service, the DNR and the Ice Age Trail Alliance, but building and maintenance of the trail is mostly by volunteers.

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