Jim Yagow (70), born and raised in rural St. Elmo, has hiked the National Scenic Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. He completed the trail on September 9, 2023 by hiking the final mile with his wife (Jan), 10 grandchildren and their parents.
The nearly 1,200-mile footpath roughly follows the end moraines of Wisconsin’s most recent glaciation (more than 12,000 years ago). The trail meanders through the state between Lake Michigan and Wisconsin’s western St. Croix River border with Minnesota, highlighting Wisconsin’s natural areas and landscape features.
The mostly forested trail passes through 30 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Jim, who lives near Appleton, Wisconsin, hiked one trail section at a time beginning in 2017, for a total of 161 day-hikes. He parked his bicycle at the end of the trail section he planned to hike for the day, traveled by car to his starting point, hiked the trail, and bicycled back to his vehicle via the connecting roads.
Jim hiked during all four seasons of the year. “I battled cold, heat, rain, snow, mud, insects (mostly ticks, mosquitoes, and gnats), poison ivy, blisters, and some pretty aggressive dogs,” Jim said laughingly. “Also, I was challenged with Lyme’s disease and anaplasmosis (tickborne diseases), heat exhaustion, plantar fasciitis, and at times, fatigue.”
Was it worth it? “Absolutely!” said Jim. “I was privileged to see Wisconsin like few others. And it is a great personal achievement for me!”
Jim is recognized as a Thousand Miler – along with 453 others since 1979 who have hiked the entire Ice Age Trail. Also, Jim is one of only 50 individuals aged 70 or older who have accomplished the feat.
2023 has been the “Ice Year” for Jim. He traveled to Antarctica in February and Iceland in July, then finished the Ice Age Trail in September.
Always busy in his retirement, Jim enjoys his grandchildren, and is an experienced world traveler, having traveled to all seven continents. During September 2024, he plans to lead his third group tour to historic Germany, including the Pomerania region, Luther sites and north Bavaria. “Life is an adventure,” he adds.