Take a stroll through Horseshoe Bend Wildlife Area

Forest overlook with snowopens IMAGE file

Crunch, slide, pant. Crunch, slide, pant. Crunch, crunch, pant.

Those were about the only sounds interrupting the peaceful stillness at Horseshoe Bend Wildlife Area just south of Milford Tuesday.

The snow crunched beneath my feet as I walked, and about every other step partially slid down the first hill I was traversing. The uphill portion included the puffing and panting from me.

The snow is progressively melting through the area, but there are still wide patches of white with brown grasses peaking out. My favorite part of snow is when it is still fresh and new, before people walk on it or plows dirty it by piling it up with the mud underneath.

a deer hoof print in the snow found in the parkopens IMAGE file

Although it was obvious by footprints, snowshoe prints and deer hoof prints that I was not the first one to walk around Horseshoe Bend after the snow fell, it was still quite clean and beautiful.

(Judd Wildlife Area is only a mile away!)

I parked at the warming house in the Winter Sports Area off 240th Street and walked to the old ski hill, taking hard steps down the hill to prevent a spill. At the bottom, I followed wide snowshoe tracks down to the water's edge. At least it was water earlier. Although some parts of the Little Sioux River area still open, this spot in particular had frozen over. It's almost like the river's mouth was hushed for the winter, the babbling of the water silenced as it hardened with the season's chill.

frozen riveropens IMAGE file

Bare branches and brown tree trunks forlornly looked out over the frozen expanse, like everything was in limbo for the next few months before spring breathes life back in and awakens nature again.

flower seed heads in the snowopens IMAGE file

However, not everything is asleep. The deer are out in search of food; birds are singing; and as I walked back to my car through the snow a couple of yellow dandelions made their presence known where the snow had melted away. Their tiny flowers give hope that winter might seem long some years, but we always have spring to look forward to.

dandelions in the wet grassopens IMAGE file

But first, we have winter to enjoy. Take advantage of the moderate temperatures and head outside to enjoy a nice stroll, maybe a nice stroll at Horseshoe Bend.

(Check out the Jahn Wildlife Area too.)