When we moved to Southern Oregon in 2014, we chanced to hike up Stine Butte on the last day of that year. This choice had more to do with trailhead access on possibly icy roads than something about the butte itself. But we experienced a sturdy climb to sweeping views of the Siskiyou Crest and the Applegate Valley. So, for the next seven years, Stine was (almost always) our “traditional” last hike of the year – sometimes in snow, most times not.

Whether we replicate this repetitive last hike of the year tradition here in the Gopher State remains to be seen. But we were interested in doing a hike on this next to the last day of the year (the last day having already been spoken for). The weather would, however, get a vote on which hike we chose.

We really wanted our last hike of 2022 to be a sunny one. But today’s forecasts were conflicted and scattered as to whether it might be sunny or cloudy or when one might switch to the other or not.

Exasperated by this meteorological dithering, we settled on another visit to Moir Park and the trail along Nine Mine Creek to the Minnesota River. Even without sunshine, it’s a pretty walk along the creek, with reflections and ducks for company. Plus we’d get to see the river again.

By the time (09.00) we’d pulled on multiple layers of clothing and reached the trailhead at Moir Park, the weather had landed resolutely on fully sunny with only a tiny cloud (or two) in the sky. Cold (20℉/-6.6℃), yes, but beautifully sunny. 😎

We made a bold start by going down the stairs from the parking lot to the trail along the creek. The stair’s treads were packed with snow-covered ice, so much bold clinging to its railings ensued. πŸ₯Ί Funny how microspikes don’t work if you leave them in your pack. πŸ™„ Anyway, after this excitement, the level, plowed trail out to the river was well-packed snow with nary a slippery spot.

Heading boldly for the ice-packed stairs
Nine Mile Creek, Bloomington, Minnesota
Morning on Nine Mile Creek
Reflections I
Reflections II
Nine Mile Creek, Bloomington, Minnesota
Snow, ice, and open water
Along the plowed trail

There’s a point along the trail where a large storm drain enters the creek. I took a photo here during our hike in September and another again today. Lush early Fall foliage versus the bare trees of Winter. But more water in the creek now than in the Fall.

September 2022
December 2022

Now that we live in a place with months of serious cold and snow, we’re starting appreciate one of Winter’s gifts (aside from no mosquitos 🦟) – the building of a really, really deep appreciation on our part for the warmer, leafier, easier months of the year. After months of cold and snow, we’re going to be primed to not waste one precious moment of warmth – even if it does come with an array of flying, biting insects. πŸ˜’

The small dam in winter
Reflection under the 106th Street bridge
Reflections on Nine Mile Creek, Bloomington, Minnesota
Reflections on Nine Mile Creek
Walking in sunshine 😎
A channel in the snow
Reflections III
Reflections IV
Reflections V
Crossing snow on the Minnesota River Bottoms
Out across the Minnesota River Bottoms (Wildwood Park on the USGS map)
Snow on the marsh
Tracks on the frozen Minnesota River
Snow and ice on the Minnesota River
A cold, but sunny, day on the river
Heading back

And, so, after 5.2 miles (8.3 km), our last hike of 2022 came to an end. We enjoyed it. And, judging from the well-used track and the people we passed, it’s popular with others too. 😊 Note: we used the path – and not the still icy stairs – to get back up to the parking lot. πŸ™„

If the weather forecasts are to be believed (or not πŸ€”) this may have been the last fully sunny day until we’re into the New Year. So we’re glad we were able to get out and take advantage of it. 😁 And with that…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

And may 2023 be just a little easier for all of us!
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