The 13 explorers discovered ample evidence of raccoon, mice, mole, coyote, squirrel and rabbit. But only by the tracks they left in the snow.
A sole chickadee and a squirrel were the only critters actually seen going about their daily activities.
The occasion was a Friday-morning hike and winter scavenger hunt led by Kane County Forest Preserve naturalists Barb McKittrick and Erica Lemon. One of the activities was identifying the tracks of the creatures that can be found in Bliss Woods Forest Preserve near Sugar Grove.
Near the end of the hike, participants were given a list of items to find, such as a chewed twig or walnut, a bird or squirrel's nest, a spider web and a variety of animal tracks.
Pat Schaefer of Elburn brought along her family of 10, including her husband, children and grandchildren. They often do nature programs as a large family outing. Schaefer's daughter, Kelly Gagne of St. Charles, participates in many of the programs offered year-round by the forest preserve district.
"We're big fans," she said. "I think the programs are a wonderful way to discover new forest preserves."
For more info on similar forest preserve programs, go to kaneforest.org.