Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

It's time for the End Of The Year Witch of November Retrospectravaganza!  There will be TWO POSTS!  One for the numbers and favorites...and one for the pictures!

When I started this blog back in January (just one picture on the post! How quaint!) I did not realize that I would soon rack up State Parks by the double digits and log over 150 miles of hikes.

Hello from One Year Ago!!

2012 by the numbers:
  1. Joe and I visited 20 Minnesota State Parks this year.  We hiked 20 Hiking Club trails, for a grand total of 52.9 miles - earning not only our 25 mile patches but our 50 mile patches.
  2. We also visited 1 Ontario Provincial Park, a Michigan State Park, and I went to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
  3. I hiked a good chunk of the Superior Hiking Trail.
  4. We accumulated 49 ticks while hiking in 2012.  That's actually not that many.  I think I've had more than 49 ticks on me in a single day before.
Favorite Hiking Club Trail

Joe:  I'm going to pick Temperance River State Park for most outstanding overall. The trail is not long, but it covers some incredibly beautiful and unique scenery (see waterfall section below).  

Also, Lindbergh State Park for most exceeding expectations. The park is fairly local and not huge, and there's no stunning features, but it has a widely varied topography with deciduous, pine, meadows, forests, and a stream, plus some great CCC work. Gives great value for the effort needed to hike it.

Temperance River

Elly:  Joe stole my favorite one!  I loved Temperance River State Park.  The cedars, the waterfalls, the smell of pine in the hot air.  Thunderdog playing in the water!  We are definitely going back again someday.  

I also am going to pick the Bean and Bear Lakes trail.  It's not a Hiking Club trail, but it sure was a favorite.  The trail so nice I hiked it twice!

Least Favorite Hiking Club Trail

Joe:  Clearly, St. Croix State Park. A gigantic park, and they put you on the road past camp sites. 

To note one other, Sibley State Park. The trail appears to be nothing but up and down hills with minimal views and nothing special. Granted, I may feel that way because it was my first park this year so 1) everything was brown and 2) I was not in hiking shape, but, that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it! 

If you're lucky you might catch a glimpse of a wild Winnebago!

Elly:  I didn't like St. Croix State Park at all.  What a dud of a Hiking Club trail.  I still think that somewhere, in the 127 miles of hiking trails, there must have been something better than a paved path with no scenery...and the hum of generators nearby!  Granted, we were there in the middle of summer and it was blazing hot and we were uncomfortable...but still.  Bleh.

Awesomest Waterfall

Joe:  Kakabeka Falls wins most outstanding overall simply due to sheer size and power- see the original post for that.

Of the more modest MN waterfalls, Temperance was easily my favorite. It's more a series of waterfalls than anything, but the slot canyon they fall through is gorgeous and very unique looking, plus you can get an up close look (don't slip!).

Welcome to Canada!  Our waterfalls are impressive.

Elly:  I'm going to go with Wolf Falls at Banning State Park.  They weren't that big and impressive, it was just a nice place to kick back and eat a granola bar with my best guy.  

Kakabeka Falls WERE totally impressive and worth the trip to Canada!

Most Exceeded Expectations

Joe:  Once more with the dual categories. For state park, the pick is Franz Jevne. A small, out of the way, nothing special park, but I think we hit it at the perfect time of the year, and there's a lovely little island you can wade to. Seems like a great place to go and truly get away from things and unwind. 

For non-state park, my pick is River Bluffs Regional Park in St Cloud. It's got good size, lovely river views almost completely unspoiled by development, and is right in town. Plus, it has some, um, 'extensions' that I won't explicitly advocate visiting, but that make it even more enjoyable. See the original post ;)

Joe's Honorable mentions:
Cedar lake Bike Trail
Spectating at Grandma's Marathon
Brockway Mountain Drive

No Man's Island in the Rainy River, Franz Jevne State Park

Elly:   Dogsledding totally exceeded my expectations!!!  Visiting the Boundary Waters in the Winter with my friends Mandy and Mark was amazing.  I can't believe it was less than a year ago.  What a busy year!

Elly's Honorable Mentions:
Franz Jevne State Park was great.  The Hiking Club trail was about as exciting as one would expect in a park with just over 100 acres, but No Man's Island in the middle of the river was so fun.

I also have to give a shout out to Lindbergh State Park.  It's another small park, but I really liked the feeling of the park.  Pines and prairie!  And planes!

Totally Not Worth It

Joe:  Hiking to the Devil's Kettle at Judge C.R. Magney State Park. This feature is great in theory, and I'm glad it exists, but he hike involves hundreds of stairs, and at the end, you atre looking hundreds of feet across a canyon at it and if you didn't know what it was, you couldn't really tell there's anything special going on.

Stairs!  And lots of them!

Elly:   Flandreau State Park was a head-scratcher for me.  I knew we were in for something...unique...when we saw the Concession Stand.  I suppose it's just a good example of how there's a State Park for everybody.

That restaurant we went to in New Ulm.  They call themselves a German restaurant and they didn't even have decent sauerkraut in my Reuben!

My crappy attempt to bike from Gooseberry to Split Rock, and that stupid Ground Squirrel.

Trespassing on private property, only to get caught and embarrassed.  We didn't write about that hike.  :-(

2013 Plans...   

What do we have to look forward to in 2013?  Well, not to give too much away (especially since we don't really have anything firmly planned yet...)
  1. Climb a mountain
  2. Visit a National Park
  3. See lots of baseball in lots of places
  4. And look!  MORE Hiking Club Trails!
  5. Fall colors in another part of the state
  6. And look!  MORE Superior Hiking Trail hikes!
  7. Biking around the State of Minnesota
  8. Geocaching
  9. Joe goes camping for the first time
  10. Elly does more outdoor volunteering (and sometimes drags Joe along)
  11. We get lots more ticks
  12. and I write about it all here, on this lovely blog.
Thanks for reading, everybody!  It's been a fun year.

See ya next year!!


  1. Love the final picture! You accomplished so much during 2012.. it's amazing there are any trails left for you to conquer!

    1. Oh, there are many...
      I have a daydream about taking a week off and knocking out a good chunk of the Superior Hiking Trail all at once. I'm tired of all the day trips!