Up North: Duluth woman takes on Ice Age Trail to make hiking history

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: January 20, 2021 10:42 PM
Created: January 19, 2021 11:09 PM

Emily Ford first started preparing for a hiking trip across Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail in November. At that point she said she was doing it just to travel the miles, but once she set off the meaning of her solo journey evolved.

"It kind of became something more, a little bit bigger," Ford said. "I just wanted to show that everybody can be outside. Everybody can hike, everybody deserves to hike."

On December 28th Ford passed her first mile marker after starting near Sturgeon Bay. Hiking East to West she plans to complete the trek in around 70 days ending in St. Croix Falls. She'll count a lot of steps along the way but hopes her footprint will be small.

"Respecting the land is such a huge thing for me. That includes packing-in and packing-out everything. I don't leave any trash behind," Ford added. "I try to make it look like there was just a square on the ground that was there. The other thing is expecting private land."

As of this week she's put about 345 miles behind her, crossing some terrain that's more interesting than others.

"A lot of flat road's, Wisconsin is really good at flat roads and then all of a sudden boom there's a bunch of hills," laughed Ford. "They just come out of the ground out of no where."

But the road never feels dull for long. Along for the trek is Diggins, an Alaskan Husky, plus Ford has crossed paths with hikers. Many are excited to share in her journey to becoming the first woman of color to complete the Ice Age Trail.

"You know when I meet other people of color they're like yes, finally." Ford said many people are excited to see her take on this adventure. 

Only Mike Summers of Oregon has accomplished the feat in 2017. 

"For a lot of women it's just seeing another woman on the trail doing something that they've either dreamt of, or has not always been classically something a woman would do," Ford said.

Although she's struggled with knee pain, shin splints, and blisters, that won't stop her becoming the first woman to tackle the trail in one go.
 

Credits

Alicia Tipcke

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