Monday, February 17, 2014

Southwestern Wisconsin - Trans-WI Adventure Trail

Murphy can be an unforgiving jerk at times.  This proved to be the case when we went to leave on our trek to the Trans-Wisconsin Adventure Trail on Sunday morning.

We met at Keith's house, a short distance from our place.  His driveway is on an incline.  We were nearly suited up and ready to go, when Aaron made an unsuccessful attempt to move the Blazer up the driveway due to the snow and ice.  He chose to back down the driveway and put the Blazer into 4-low to get up to street level.  Once up, he soon found that the transfer case on the Blazer refused to come out of low range.  After a half hour or so tinkering with it, with no result, we limped the Blazer home and made the choice to take the Jeep instead.

While I had been driving the Jeep locally, I hadn't taken it on any long-distance trips since we decided to transplant in a donor transfer case and transmission.  We'd been waiting for nicer weather to make this happen... and it hadn't happened yet.  Keeping in mind that the transmission slips some, and I had no 4-wheel drive options available to me... and the speed sensor/speedometer wasn't working... we chose to take it long distance, to untested and unknown terrain anyway.

These are things good stories are made of, right?

So we cruised to Galena without incident - approximately 125 miles to the western border of Illinois.  Stopped for a quick bite to eat before hopping north over the Wisconsin border in search of the southernmost terminus of the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail.  The directions and maps that Keith brought with were pretty straightforward in the routing, and we soon found ourselves on countryside farm roads.

In my personal research of the trail, I knew to anticipate paved and gravel roads in the southern sections of the route.  This is exactly what we found in the beginning.  But the roads were winding, and many were snow covered... and with my lack of anything but decent tires and 2-wheel drive, I still found them to be a little fun.

After time passed, we did come across more remote sections of road.  I imagine that without the snow, they would be dirt and gravel.  Although most of those sections that we drove had at least 2"+ of snow cover.  And better winding roads.  And some pretty decent hilly areas - enough so that I broke the rear wheels of the Jeep loose a number of times.  We encountered a few water crossings and lots of evidence of wildlife.  I can only imagine the difference between these sections of road now and in the spring or fall seasons.

We continued on, following the roads along Mississippi  river valley until we ended up near Prairie Du Chien.  It was there we crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa.  We stopped on the Iowa side, in Marquette, for a few photos of the vehicles before we went our separate ways.  It was nearly 4pm by the time we turned around and we had a 3-1/2 + hour drive ahead of us.

It's of the general opinion that the trail we've seen so far is very doable by any vehicle that's not too close to the ground (ie: sports cars), and that has decent tires... in the nicer months of the year.  I would have liked to have had at least 4-hi for better peace of mind this time, but we still managed just fine.

We did have some buggy issues related to the lack of a speed sensor, but we made it the entire 400+ mile trip without major issues - go Eugene!

I have read that the terrain on the trail gets more interesting the further north it gets - it's there that we'd still like to go.  It's our hopes that we can take a long weekend once the weather gets warmer to travel farther up the route, if not all the way to Lake Superior, where it ends.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Trans-Wisconsin Adventure Trail

Tomorrow we take an exploratory trip with a friend.  


The southern-most section of the lesser-known Trans-Wisconsin Adventure Trail, which lives along the western border of Wisconsin.  The route is more known among the adventure cycle and motorcycle riders, but is also inviting to those in high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles.  The full trail is over 600 miles from start to finish... beginning near the IL/WI border near Galena, IL, and finishing on the shores of Lake Superior at the northern end of Wisconsin.  We, however, will only cover the area between Galena and Prairie Du Chien, WI before turning eastward to come home.

The trail description boasts "deep sand, ruts, mud, dust, livestock in the road, horse and cow manure, deer, bears, porcupines, possums, turkeys, logs, low hanging branches, barbed wire, drunk or distracted drivers, bear hunters running dogs, logging trucks, ATV's, rednecks, Amish, bad roads, no roads, lakes, streams, washouts, police, sharp unmarked corners, etc."  Sounds like fun!

In truth, I'm anxious to run even a little bit of this trail.  Even now, in the winter with the snow on the ground.  I think (hope) this may be a potential weekend, or longer 3-day weekend trip for the Jeep & 4x4 crowd in this area.  Maybe for sometime in the spring or autumn.  It doesn't seem like anything overly complicated, but yet it's scenic... 

While we won't be bringing the Jeep this time around, the (hopefully trusty) 4x4 Chevy Blazer will be the chariot of choice.  With any luck, it will serve us well.  Our friend will be in his Jeep Wrangler - TJ.  I'll document what I can, and report back - here, and on the Jeep forums I visit regularly.  This may be an adventure that we choose to repeat in its entirety later this year.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Don't Go Chasin' Waterfalls...

Aaron has been mapping his mini-motorcycle routing, and I've merely been daydreaming about the upcoming summer in the PNW.  Among some of my daydreams are thoughts of hiking and photographing waterfalls.  So, with the help of my trusty Google-ninja skills, I found a couple of really nice resources for waterfall locations in NW Oregon... complete with directions, GPS coordinates, trail descriptions - everything!


There are so many opportunities within a short distance of where I will be staying in Oregon.  I'm a little bummed that I'll only be in that area for 2 weeks instead of longer.  I suppose I'll be more motivated to make use of my down time.  It's a shame that I won't be able to post as much nicer "from the road" images as what I'd like.  But still... I'm anxious.  I am trying NOT to count down to the trip - it makes the wait more agonizing.    But I have to...

Only this many more days!

Time to begin looking into the Washington area a little closer - I'm sure I'll find some great things to explore there as well.  :D