The Langlade County segments of the Ice Age Trail welcomed some warriors last week.
U.S. Army veterans Jenni Heisz of Boscobel and Natalie Koffarnus of Colby are participating in the Warrior Hike, a national program to provide veterans returning from combat an opportunity to pursue an outdoor experience such as a long-distance hike as part of the transition to civilian life.
They received some local hospitality courtesy of members of Antigo’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Leland-Tollefson Post 2653 as they traveled through the area’s Ice Age Trail segments.
Heisz, a veteran of tours in Kuwait and Afghanistan, left the trail in Langlade County due to an ailing foot, but before heading home some VFW Post members treated her to breakfast. She is recovering and hopes to rejoin Koffarnus.
Koffarnus, also a veteran of Kuwait and Afghanistan, completed her trek of the county trail segments and enjoyed an evening of pizza with some VFW members and their spouses. She is currently on the trail between Antigo and Waupaca. Koffarnus has completed over 300 miles since leaving the western trail terminus at St. Croix Falls early last month. She has 800 miles remaining until the eastern trail terminus at Door County’s Potawatomi State Park just south of Sturgeon Bay.
“She was pleased to have a long-distance hiking trail in her home state for convenience in planning and support of the venture,” Joe Jopek, the local Ice Age Trail coordinator, said. “She has been impressed and especially appreciative of the community support encountered on her trek through Wisconsin.”
Warrior Hike was founded by Sean Gobin, who has encourage local veteran groups such as the VFW to contact the Warrior Hikers and offer their support in the trail-related communities.
When the program was established four years ago, the Appalachian National Scenic Traul was the original stretch for the first participant to “Walk Off the War.” Two national scenic trails, the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide, were added in 2013 and 2014 and the Arizona, Florida and Ice Age National Scenic Trails were included this year.
Program information on Warrior Hike is available at warriorhike.org. Information on the Ice Age Trail is available at iceagetrail.org or from Jopek at 715 623-2645.