by Neil Carleton

When the days are bright and crisp with snow on the ground, members and friends of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) like to celebrate winter by hiking.  With peeper and wood frogs calling this week, winter already seems so long ago.  Canadian poet Archibald Lampman (1861 – 1899) captured this sentiment in the last two lines of his poem In March.

And I that stroll with many a thoughtful pause

Almost forget that winter ever was.

Strolling in winter woods with many a thoughtful pause is a great way to explore and learn about the landscape of our area.  On most Monday mornings during the year, outdoor enthusiasts gather to hike well established trails.  The exercise is good, the camaraderie is great, and the nature sightings are inspirational.  You don’t need to be an expert to participate, just bring along your interest in the outdoors.

Just a week ago there was still snow on the ground.  Here’s a look back at some of the hiking adventures of this past winter.

Hiking in Winter Woods

Dress for the weather and bring along snowshoes or cross-country skis to enjoy winter outings with members and friends of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists.

Gary Dorice Cliff Hiking in Winter Woods

 Fresh snow soon reveals what woodland creatures have crossed or followed the hiking trails of our area.

A white tailed deer left this distinctive track in the snow.
A big surprise on one hike was discovering the tracks of a beaver that left the lodge to explore in the snow.
A black bear left its claw marks on the bark of this tree when it climbed up to feed.
On a March day when there’s a hint of spring in the air, look down, way down, and you might see tiny springtails on the snow, about 4 mm in length.
The annual MVFN winter outing included a fire again this year to make lunch. What a treat it was to cook bannock outdoors on March 9.

For information about MVFN membership, the Young Naturalists program, Monday morning hikes in all seasons, canoe outings, and our lecture series, please visit the MVFN’s website at http://mvfn.ca/.  I’d be happy to direct your question or inquiry to the appropriate contact with the MVFN.  Call me at 613-256-2018 or e-mail <ve3nce@rac.ca>.