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Duluth woman is hiking 1,000-plus miles on the Ice Age Trail this winter

She could be the second person ever to finish a winter-thru hike of the Wisconsin trail.

A Duluth woman may become the second person – and first woman – on record to hike the entire Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin during the winter. 

Emily Ford, 28, who is the head gardener at Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, began her 1,200-mile journey across Wisconsin via the Ice Age Trail on Dec. 28, 2020, in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. 

It's expected to take her about 70 days, hiking 20-ish miles a day, spending most of her nights camping outside, the Duluth News Tribune reported. She'll be accompanied by Diggins, an Alaskan husky sled dog that she borrowed from a friend’s kennel. 

Ford has shared a few updates on her journey on Facebook, with her most recent post coming on Monday saying she and Diggins are planning to hike zero miles on Tuesday, taking a much-needed rest day. She noted that they're both healthy and strong, tucked away in a heated outbuilding. 

In the post, she thanked Martin Luther King Jr. for making it possible for people like her to do the 1,200-mile hike through Wisconsin. She told the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel in early January that one of her goals with this hike is to show others, especially Black women, that they can do it too. 

On Jan. 16, she posted to say she's hiked about 300 miles along the 1,200-mile trail and has met a ton of great people along the way. She noted she couldn't have asked for a better partner than Diggins, adding the dog loves roadkill. 

When asked why she decided to tackle the journey in the winter, she noted that there's not much gardening to do in Minnesota in the winter – and she hates mosquitos, the Journal Sentinel said. 

What's the Ice Age Trail?

The Ice Age Trail, marked in red, stretches more than 1,000 miles across the state of Wisconsin.

The Ice Age Trail, marked in red, stretches more than 1,000 miles across the state of Wisconsin.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail traces the edge of the glacier that covered Wisconsin during the Ice Age 15,000 years ago, when mammoths, sabertooth cats and cave lions roamed the earth, the National Park Service says

The nearly 1,200-mile trail stretches from Potawatomi State Park in Sturgeon Bay, Door County, Wisconsin to the west, ending at Interstate State Park in St. Croix Falls, Polk County, Wisconsin, on the Minnesota border, according to the Ice Age Trail Alliance. The trail was established in 1980, and highlights what that giant glacier left behind (lakes, river valleys, rolling hills and ridges). It's one of 11 national scenic trails and its entirety is in the state of Wisconsin. 

While dozens of people have thru-hiked the Ice Age Trail (hiked the whole thing in one go), only one person is on record as having completed a thru-hike of the trail in the winter, the Duluth News Tribune said. 

Mike Summers of Oregon was the first person to complete a winter thru-hike of the Ice Age Trail. He did it back in 2017, when it took him 58 hiking days and five zero days (rest days), the Journal Sentinel said

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