I ran the Waukesha County section (~45M) of the Ice Age Trail in a soft/modest 10:10 total time on 28 July 2016 (from 5:02am to 3:12pm).
Time is from Emma Carlin TH road crossing to CTH Q past Monches section.
It's a worthwhile endeavor for somebody local who needs a long run: it would be easy to do this in 8 hours for a fast, prepared runner in good conditions; and a very fast runner in under 6.
I grew up in Waukesha Co, so it was a rewarding tour.
- Avoidable Mistakes: I took some pictures, then backtracked to find my dropped camera (25 minutes). I took a spur to a campsite to search for bugspray (see below) that added another 7-10 minutes. I missed a few minor wrong turns for another ~10 minutes. Spent a few more minutes chatting with my cousin(!) I randomly saw on a bike path!
- BUGS: The deer flies were horrendous! Swarms would follow and circle around my head, and I could rake my hand through my hair every 10-20 seconds and get dead bugs to fall out. This was going on for over an hour in the denser woods, I didn't bring bugspray and it would have been utterly intolerable. I gambled and took a spur trail to a campsite shelter. As I hoped, there was a can of spray out on a picnic table. I used a bit for my hair and it made all the difference in the world, so thanks! This should be a huge consideration, especially in summer. I would have considered a hat/bandana.
- I saw more people playing Pokemon Go (near parks/bike paths) than I did hiking anywhere on the trail! (Only people I saw on the trail were Lapham Pk section).
Highlights, Tips, and Observations:
- I had the printed instructions from the "Walk the Wauk" program, but instead used my wife's smartphone and downloaded the "Mammoth Tracks" app. I paid $9.99 for the eastern section maps. This was the first phone app I've purchased and the first time I had GPS on a run, ever, and it was worth it. I downloaded the map for offline usage before leaving and put the (Android) phone in airplane mode to save battery, and it worked perfectly. I used the map occasionally for the first few hours but eventually discovered that the "Waypoints" tab could tell you your mileage number and the number of miles to the next waypoint (as well as the finishing point).
- I missed an easy turn early just before RR tracks, when I followed an orange arrow and more prominent logging trail (due to logging!) to the right, rather than across the tracks on a sharper left where the blaze is quickly visible (after you commit to the correct turn). Another one was a sharp left off of a bike trail to go around the golf course, not long after crossing Hwy 83 at a stop light (the first major controlled intersection, IIRC).
- Delafield is a great place to restock liquids: there's a Mobil gas station nary a block off the trail as you go through downtown.
- I liked going W-E, starting with a dropoff at Emma Carlin. Going this direction also leaves you the option of ending at the Ox and Cat Sports Bar and puts faster road miles toward the end. This would be a really great, doable, and impressive self-supported long-day loop if you dropped a bike off at the end. My favorite parts going W-E were the first sections (other than bugs), into and through Scuppernong, as it was the most woodsy. Although it also had more shuffling lawn-carpet as well. Lapham Peak is always good -- climb the tower of course. But past it, at least in July, were exquisite fields of wildflowers, about the best I've ever seen in WI. And then, the last 3 miles through Monches were great: all runnable trail. And ironically, when you have just about a mile left, perhaps the most beautiful part of the trail is the bridge across the bubbling Oconomowoc River.
Hope this gets somebody else there! The IAT is a gem and more people (especially local) need to get out on it. Cheers!