After a day of snow flurries, bright sunshine returned. Warmth, however, did not. Today dawned at a brisk -2℉ (-17.2℃). But that’s trivial compared to what’s coming tomorrow through Christmas Day. Forget the Arctic Blast. A Storm-a-Geddon is inbound with heavy snow, strong winds, and more of our already brisk temperatures. As luck would have it, we’ll be heading East to spend Christmas with family before (hopefully) this storm hits. 😏

But there was time for one more short, sunny, cold hike before we go East. We decided to do a walk in the Bloomington Ferry Unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), starting from the parking lot at the end of Crest Avenue.

A floating ferry used to cross the Minnesota River here between 1849 and 1889. It was superseded by two bridges before today’s pedestrian/bicycle bridge (the Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge) opened in 1998. We walked across that bridge to get a view of the frozen Minnesota River and then walked out beside the river on the River Bottoms Trail and then back on that trail and a bicycle trail.

The snowy Minnesota River from the Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
The snowy Minnesota River from the Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
On the River Bottoms Trail
Opus Marsh
The trail was well worn by fat tire bicycles
The Minnesota River on the eve of the Winter Solstice
Along the river
And back through the woods on a bicycle trail
Sunshine, yes 😎; warmth, no 🥶
Back on the River Bottoms Trail
The Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge over the Minnesota River
The Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge over the Minnesota River
Our short, but brisk, hike along the Minnesota River

So, another short hike (3 miles/4.8 km) in full sunshine but at 0℉ (-17.7℃). Fortunately, there was only a faint breeze so windchill wasn’t an issue today. After lunch at the Northstar Tavern, we went home to pack and reassure Sofie (our cat) that we weren’t abandoning her forever (she can be quite the furry little drama queen when she sees us packing). And with that, we wish you…

MERRY CHRISTMAS
HAPPY HANUKKAH

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