Temperatures were about 10 below zero, but naturalist Valerie Blaine wasn't tempted to cancel a New Year's nature hike Monday morning in St. Charles.

The annual hike at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve has been going on for about 20 years, she said, and "the only year I didn't do it, I really heard about it."

So she and about a dozen other hearty souls bundled in their warmest gear and braved the cold to welcome the new year surrounded by nature.

The hike lasted about 45 minutes as people learned about winter plants and followed animal tracks. The group was lucky enough, or unlucky enough, to come across the remains of a rabbit that had fallen to a predator the previous night.

Afterward, the group headed back to the Creek Bend Nature Center for hot drinks and homemade muffins.

"It's a nice relaxing way to start the new year," Blaine said.