This story originally aired in Jan. 1983.
For three decades, naturalist Kathy Heidel helped people appreciate the natural world on hikes through the Carver Park Reserve and with her appearances on MPR. During a hike with reporter Dan Olson in 1983, Heidel found signs of life in the woods in the midst of a very snowy winter.
"The deer as you can see are walking one behind each other on their pathways and that makes it easier for them," she said, pointing out tracks in the snow.
Humans had to strategize as well, with Heidel and Olson both in snowshoes.
"I went out the other day without my snowshoes and I went in over my knees," Heidel said. "It's tough walking."
Further down the trail they found tracks from squirrels, mice and even a shrew.
A December blizzard caused many deaths in the animal kingdom that year, and drove birds south. But other animals managed to find a warm place to wait out the storm.
"You could find birds sheltering underneath those clusters of brown leaves out of the wind, like in a mini cave," Heidel said. "You'd find the mouse would be down in its hole or in its covered over bird nest."
The hike was just a quick peek at the often overlooked wonders of animal life in winter, Olson reported. How the wildlife handle the deep snow can also offer some perspective the next time "your street looks more like a ski jump than a thoroughfare," Olson said.
Heidel passed away in 2014.
If you are interested in a guided winter nature hike, 14 state parks are sending folks off into the woods with a naturalist on Jan 1. Click here for more information.
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