On DAY EIGHT of the WI pilgrimage, we return to Kettle Moraine State Forest on The Ice Age Tr, a National Scenic Trail. During this stage of the walking pilgrimage, we hike over eskers and around kettle lakes, evidence that glaciers shaped this stunning landscape. Later, we have an uncommon experience at Paluso Guest Ranch Horseback Riding Center.
START: Ice Age Trailhead, 1.5 miles / 2.4 km east of the town of Dundee | END: Paluso Guest Ranch, New Fane
10 mi/ 16 km | 3h 16m | Forest Section | Services: Convenience store at BP gas station, Dundee; Rusty Spur Saloon, New Fane
DAY EIGHT of the WI Pilgrimage in Pictures
After sleeping a second night in Glenbeulah, I need another shuttle ride to get back to yesterday’s endpoint. Fr. Moses of Holy Resurrection Monastery volunteered to pick me up at the Glenbeulah Airbnb and drop me at the Ice Age TR for the next stage of this walking pilgrimage.
WARNING: When you navigate to Dundee using Google Maps, the app takes you to Dundee Mountain near the Long Lake Recreation Area Campground, not the town of Dundee. Google Maps sent Fr. Moses and me on a wild goose chase.
I suggest Googling “Camp Dundee Bar & Grill” instead of “Dundee, WI.” The bar is in town, which is at the intersection of Highway 67 and County Road F (Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive.)
The WI pilgrimage follows the Ice Age Tr
Once we found the trailhead to the Ice Age Tr east of Dundee on County Road F, Fr. Moses and I bid adieu. He was off to his favorite restaurant supply store in Milwaukee to procure all the spices needed to make sausage. A local farmer donated 300 lbs / 136 kg of pork to Holy Resurrection Monastery. Fr Moses, a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, had processed the pork belly into bacon the day before. I have to admit that I was a bit envious when he shared that he would also make a stop at REI to provision for his upcoming pilgrimage on Via Francigena, from Canterbury to Rome.
Ice Age Tr weaves through Kettle Moraine National Forest
Maple, birch, hickory and oak make up the densely wooded forests along this Ice Age Trl section through Kettle Moraine National Forest. Since I walked this stage of the Wisconsin Way on a Saturday in the fall, the colors were spectacular, but the trail was full of leaf peepers. I overheard some say that they camped at Mothy Lake. I shuttered at the thought: camping at a body of water swarming with moths. I wondered why anyone would name a lake “Mothy.” But more on THAT as you keep reading on…
When I finally reached the campground, I learned that the lake was actually named for William Mauthe, an early Wisconsin land conservationist. Not one moth was to be seen in the area. About one mile / 1.6 km down the trail, I passed Ice Age Trail Shelter #2 and, later, a kettle hole filled with water.
Evidence of Glaciers on the Ice Age Tr
The Ice Age Trl is named for the glacial activity in Wisconsin. Along the trail, you’ll see lots of evidence of glaciation, including this kettle hole. A way down the path, a bench dedicated to Henry and Mary Kurz, the parents of Fr. Andrew Kurz, the founder and steward of the walking pilgrimage, The Wisconsin Way, provided a respite for my weary pilgrim legs.
A bit later, from another bench deliberately positioned at a high point for the best views, I made out the conical shape of kames in the distance. I strained to see if I could catch a glimpse of my destination on this walking pilgrimage, Holy Hill.
Since DAY EIGHT was a relatively short stage, I had time to stop off at the Rusty Spur Saloon in New Fain. Like bars on Camino de Santiago in Spain, the Wisconsin saloon was the village’s center of activity for locals and thirsty travelers. Riders parked their Harley Davidson motorcycles in the front or tethered saddle horses in the back. I laid down my backpack and ordered a ‘pression’ or draft beer, and just like I’d done dozens of times in Europe, struck up conversation with the characters leaning on the bar.
It was a leisurely walk from the bar—where I purchased wine-to-go—to Paluso Guest Ranch Horseback Riding Center, my home for the night. Earlier, I’d asked my Airbnb host Bob Paluso if I could use his kitchen to make dinner. Since he agreed, I’d been carrying a 4.5-ounce package of Lipton Pasta & Sauce. The wine would be a welcome addition.
Paluso Guest Ranch Horseback Riding Center on the WI Pilgrimage and Ice Age Tr
Paluso Guest Ranch Horseback Riding Center was buzzing with activity—in the parking lot, a family attempted to round up its members after a trail ride. The grandma talked excitedly to a young couple unpacking luggage from their car. The young woman wore a wide brim felt hat popularized by Instagrammers. I wondered if the fashionista was a travel writer. Her handsome husband looked like a football player, and later I discovered that I was right: he played college football for UCLA before graduating.
Another couple was pushing wood into a log splitter next to the fire ring. “We don’t work here. We’re splitting Bob’s wood in exchange for using his log splitter on our own wood,” said the fit middle-aged woman lifting another log into the contraption. “Someone should be around to check you in—make yourself comfortable.” I dropped my backpack next to the comfy patio furniture circling the fire pit. That’s where I met Sarah and Chris, the young couple that reminded me of social media models. Turns out they were from Milwaukee and seeking a country getaway with their small dog, who just grabbed a mouthful of tail feathers off one of the free-range chickens.
I poked my head into the indoor riding arena, where registered quarter horses were saddled and waiting for the next ride. I oohed over the paint, which eyed me warily. I could see some spunk there. I hadn’t thought about riding horses while I was on this walking pilgrimage, but when the opportunity presents itself, the happy pilgrim takes the reins.
A Different Brand of Walking Pilgrimage
It’s a different kind of walking pilgrimage when you are carried by four legs instead of two. 60 miles of the Kettle Moraine equestrian trail system are right outside the Paluso Guest Ranch Horseback Riding Center driveway. So three of us, including the young guide, rode our steeds directly into the forest. The trail ride was an unexpected blessing for this pilgrim, and I couldn’t help but believe that God was giving me the desires of my heart, even though I didn’t think to ask for this one.
Later, while I made my dinner in Bob’s unexpectedly large and modern kitchen, I spoke with another couple, guests from Illinois. Michael and Rebecca sat at the expansive kitchen island, which was obviously designed for communal meals.
“Bob went out for a meeting,” explained Rebecca when I asked. I’d noticed that Michael spent his time writing in a spiral-bound notebook. And now that I chatted with his wife, he kept his head down, concentrating on penning. Curious, I looked over his shoulder and saw the heading of his page read Psalm 119. I wondered if he were a pastor making sermon notes.
“So what are you doing there?” I asked Michael, wanting to draw him into the conversation.
“I’m memorizing scriptures,” he said and then described how filling his head with the word of God was an excellent antidote to worry.
“I’m trying to memorize Psalm 34 while I’m on this pilgrimage and gone from home. I’ll be gone 22 days, and Psalm 34 has 22 verses, so I thought I could do one verse a day. I’m not doing so well,” I admitted. I showed him how I’d written the verses in my journal.
“Oh, yes, Psalm 34. That’s a good one for pilgrimage,” he said. “See how there is a cadence in the words:
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. (NRSV)”
he read to the rhythm of footsteps.
Unexpected community on the WI pilgrimage
“By walking and repeating the words like that, you should be able to memorize it much easier.” That launched us on a sweet conversation about our faith journeys and my walking pilgrimage. They shared their stories with me as I ate my meager meal.
Soon Sarah and Chris arrived with takeout from a restaurant in Kewaskum and a bottle of wine from Brown Estate Winery, a Napa winery they’d visited in San Francisco, Sarah’s hometown. She shared their wine, explaining that they liked to promote Black-owned wine labels. The excellent 2018 Chaos Theory blew away the carryout-bar wine that I mentioned earlier! Now here’s the exciting part…
“We were just talking about our Christian walks,” said Rebecca opening the conversation to Sarah and Chris. “How did you meet Jesus?” And again, our discussion sprang into the spiritual realm. By the time Bob returned, I felt as if I’d been on a lofty Christian retreat.
“It’s like the Lord brought us all together for this spiritual getaway,” I said. All agree it was just what we needed during this time of social distancing.
When Bob got back, he said that breakfast would be served a little later tomorrow since it would be Sunday and he would go to church first. “Who wants to go with me?” he asked.
Try reading Psalm 34 in cadence as Michael suggested. See if you can memorize the words while you walk.
Lodging Near New Fain and Kewaskum, WI
As I suggested earlier, call a month or two in advance to reserve your room. Paluso Guest Ranch Horseback Riding Center closes in the winter months, but you can call Bob year round at (414) 418-0526 to book a room. Tell him ‘UNSTOPPABLE Stacey” sent you!
UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was NOT provided with accommodations, meals or other compensation for the purpose of this guide. The Arizona travel writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
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