One day, tubing at the Horseshoe Bend Winter Sports Area ceased for a few seconds while a herd of deer ran across the snowy lanes, leaving behind little hoof prints in the white fluff.
Raccoons scurry along at night, looking for remnants of popcorn and other goodies left behind from those enjoying the concession stand, and their claw and paw indentations also mark their trail after they’ve gone.
Owls continue to hunt in the frigid weather, and markings of a struggle in the snow are often a telltale sign of what went on.
Naturalist Charles Vigdal will help people decipher stories in the snow during the first Hike the Wild program of 2016. Meet at the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, and then caravan to the hiking site at the Horseshoe Bend Wildlife Area south of Milford.
Weather permitting, Vigdal will give a lesson on using snowshoes in deep snow and will give an opportunity to practice with the apparatus during the hike.
“We will be looking for tracks, scat and areas where animals have been active and hopefully seeing some wildlife up close,” Vigdal said. “We will be hiking down into the flood plain, making this program a more intermediate-level hike. Plus, make sure to always dress for the weather.”
For each Hike the Wild, meet at the Dickinson County Nature Center at 9:30 a.m. and caravan to the site. All ages are invited to attend the hikes to explore both new and familiar terrain and to learn about a variety of topics, from glacial history to fall foliage.
“Hike the Wild programs are a great way to get out of the house, discover new wild areas and learn about some of the things you might see out in nature from a naturalist,” Vigdal said.
Conservation board staff enjoy taking the public to beautiful areas throughout the county that they may have never explored before.
“We hope once they experience these area gems that they will then return in their free time to explore and relish the outdoors even more,” said Kiley Roth, community relations coordinator.
Hikes are scheduled for the fourth Tuesday of each month and will take participants to the following locations:
- Jan. 26: Horseshoe Bend Wildlife Area
- Feb. 23: Ainsworth-Orleans Beach
- March 22: Freda Haffner Kettlehole
- April 26: Kettleson Hogsback
- May 24: Little Sioux Savanna
- June 28: Barney Peterson Memorial Trail
- July 26: Westport Park
- Aug. 23: Pillsbury Point and Abbie Gardner Cabin
- Sept. 27: Fort Defiance State Park
- Oct. 25: Diamond Lake Complex
- 3 p.m. Nov. 23: Kenue Park Turkey Trot
- 3 p.m. Dec. 22: Kenue Park Winter Solstice Hike