Comments on our move to Minnesota were of two types: (a) nice people but it’s SO cold or (b) it’s SO cold but nice people. Thus far, the nice people part has been true. Today we finally got to the SO cold part. An anticipated “Arctic Blast” arrived from Canada this morning, cooling things down to a brisk -2℉ (-17.2℃) at sunrise.

It warmed our hearts to hear the local weather people describe this as “extreme” cold. If they’d said “…now it’s just cold enough to warrant an extra sweater…,” I think we’d have been sorely tempted to call a realtor in Orlando. 🙄

Despite this “extreme” cold, it was sunny 😎 and there was little wind! We’re real suckers for windless sunshine, so that was enough to get us headed outside. We were helped along by the arrival of this cheery insolation after a few days of heavy snow and general dreariness. We needed a sunbreak…

After weighing our options, we decided to pay another visit to Baker Park Reserve. It’s not too far away, doesn’t charge a vehicle fee, and has a short trail on its east side designated for multi-use (i.e., we could walk on it). We had hiked part of this trail last summer and so thought a seasonal “compare and contrast” might be interesting.

Although not wildly obvious from the park’s map, parking for this multi-use trail is at the horse lot off County Road 201. We stepped out of the car into brilliant sunshine and an air temperature that had made it all the way up to 0℉ (-17.7℃) – heading toward the day’s high of 9℉ (-12.7℃)! 😒

The hike itself was straight forward – the snow was firm and not deep and no traction devices were needed. The trail was even been groomed while we were on it.

Leaving the parking lot
Sunny, but NOT warm 🥶
Melting deferred
Easy walking on the wide trail
Perched snow
Into the light

The trail loops back through an open area of restored prairie. Out here in the open, there was a light breeze. But at 0℉ (-17.7℃), even this slight air movement was enough to induce a noticeable – and biting – windchill. Every small failing in our winter kit was immediately revealed and holding the camera became a race with numb fingers. More adjustments need to be made.

Out on the prairie
Power to the people
The last vestige of last season
Along the trail today
The same spot last September
The groomer came by as we were walking
We turn the corner at the end of the loop and head back
Back across the prairie
Electrons on the move
And on back to the trailhead

Walking through the cold air wearing insulated boots and swaddled in winter clothing requires a bit more effort than swanning along in shorts and a T-shirt. Thus, when we got back to the parking lot, we decided to skip the piece of trail that runs to the Outdoor Learning Center and back. Today’s 3.3 miles (5.3 km) was still good exercise – and we got a few more winter kit improving pointers from the wind. And so to home for a hot lunch… 😋😁

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