Emily Ford – Thru-Hiker
Backpacker|May - June 2021
Late last December, Emily Ford, 28, of Duluth, Minnesota, took her first steps on Wisconsin’s 1,200-mile Ice Age Trail with a borrowed sled dog named Diggins. “I was laid off from my job as head gardener at the Glensheen Mansion, and I took full advantage,” she says. Ten weeks later, she became the first woman and second person ever to thru-hike the IAT in winter.

My first solo backpacking trip was five years ago. I hiked about 30 miles, and I bet my pack weighed as much then as it did on this IAT hike. I brought the dumbest stuff, like jars of cooking oil. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had the bug. That’s all you need to get started—the bug. But, forego glass jars, all right?

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