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Students take winter 'hike'

Students from Cindy Ortman's third-grade class stop for a picture after snowshoeing in the Demonstration Forest on Drummond Road. Submitted photo

Before the quick disappearance of snow this month, Minnehaha third-graders found lots of snow to explore at the Demonstration Forest on the Drummond Road not too far from Two Harbors.

Some of the children used the school's snowshoes that were donated by the Parent-Teacher Association. Others brought their own.

Bill Nixon and Tom Bodell, foresters for Lake County, led the children for an hour and a half adventure through the woods to search for animal signs and identify trees.

The children spotted hidden homes, animal footprints and scat. One group discovered a partridge nest that had been lying under the snow until Mother Nature's warming revealed the bird's droppings. The children were told that you can tell how long the bird stays under the snow by counting the droppings -- one pellet for every day of hibernation in that spot.

Another group found a fresh wolf kill with only a few bones and hide remaining in the snow. Tracks also showed where the wolves ate their meal. Up and around broken tree branches from an earlier snowstorm, the children noticed the secret world of the woods.

Some parents, a grandmother, teachers and helpers all enjoyed the tour.

Rosemary Walsberg, grandmother of Joe Walsberg, said that she and Joe have enjoyed snowshoeing in the woods since Joe was about three years old. She came along to spend some more time with him in the woods.

Whether it was their first time or one snowshoe walk of many, everyone came back with a better appreciation of the woods. Navah Swoverland came back with smiles and giggles after she stepped out of her entire boot and fell knee-deep into the snow. One of her classmates helped fish her boot out.

After they hopped on the bus and returned to the classroom, the students talked about the experience while sipping hot chocolate.

And maybe, just maybe, they'll be anxious to get back into the woods again soon.