PLATTSBURGH - The winter in the North Country can be hard on people's minds and bodies. However, people looking to get in shape as the cold season snaps may find what they're looking for in the Algonquin chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club.
"Here it is, March 10, and it is lovely," said club member and former chapter president Lynn Valenti, as she stood on the steps of City Hall last week waiting to start one of her walks around Plattsburgh.
"I try not to go the same way twice," she continued. "And, we try not to go through the main streets."
A group of about four or five march away from City Hall almost every week in March, weather permitting. The route can stretch as far as your imagination can take you, in just about an hour.
The group is looking for leisure walkers, and for good conversationalists.
"Well, I don't know, we've had a lot of people sprinting down the sidewalk," Gail Morin, one of the walk participants, joked.
Conversation revolves around weather, news issues and pretty much anything that comes to mind while walking around the historic city. The recent news of the potential closure of Point Au Roche State Park was just one of the conversation topics along the route.
"We like each other's company," Morin said. "And, to learn something each day."
The group stopped and shared knowledge about historic buildings and areas in Plattsburgh, and found a few new routes to explore for the next walk.
A stop at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church in the heart of the city picked up two more walkers, and a yellow labrador retriever named Joy, who is a regular participant of the group walks.
"Dogs are welcome," Valenti said.
All of those walking agreed health is undoubtedly one of their concerns.
"When you like to cook and eat it's hard," Valenti said, adding the club was active throughout the winter. "But, we try not to let ourselves get into that hibernation mode."
"I would've been downstairs reading books," said Peter Tutscka, one of the stragglers from the church.
The great thing about the walks, Valenti noted, is that you don't have to be a chapter or club member to come along. All that's required is you have a health-conscious mind and a knack for conversation.
The chapter has walks scheduled each Wednesday through April 28, starting at City Hall at 3 p.m.
For more information about the walks contact Valenti at 562-0553 or visit the chapter's Web site at www.adk.org/chapters/algonquin.aspx and click on the Outings Schedule link.
Michael O'Keefe is an intern with the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.