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Duluth woman makes history, completes 1200-mile winter hike

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Emily Ford 7
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ST. CROIX FALLS, WI -- Duluthian Emily Ford made history as she completed the 1,200 mile Ice Age Trail hike Saturday.

Along with dog Diggins, Ford arrived at the Western Terminus of Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail in St. Croix around noon.

Starting the hike on December 28th, Ford is the second person ever, and the first female, to accomplish the task during the winter.

"We spend this entire time kind of wishing the journey was over, even though we're enjoying it, but at the very end it's like, 'You did the thing, and it took a long time,' and you just remember all in one collapse all of these memories," Ford said.

Braving the harsh elements, Ford, who is also the head gardener at Glensheen Mansion, accomplished the task in just 69 days.

The remarkable feat drew support from Ford's Duluth community.

"She's an amazing, powerful woman and excels at everything she does," Josh Horky, Ford's neighbor, said. "This is just another feather in her hat."

Ford's journey also reached strangers from hundreds of miles away.

Dineo Dowd drove from Madison, Wisconsin, to St. Croix Falls with her daughter to watch Ford reach the end of the trail.

"I found her on Instagram and we started talking, and I was like, 'You are killing it! Keep going. We got you!'" Dowd said.

Ford's social media took off with people staying up-to-date with the journey.

Despite the internet following, it was the time spent off the phone when Ford had moments to connect with who she is.

It is something she will continue as she returns home.

"Just learning what that looks like to be me back in the real world," Ford said.

Ford and Diggins parted ways after their winter adventure reached the end.

"I call her 'associate,' but we made it to best friend level," Ford said.

Ford's inspirational journey will carry on for a long time to come.

Ford said she does not know what her next adventure will be, but when she gets back to Duluth she wants to rest and eat.

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Kendall Jarboe

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