ADK Laurentian Chapter members spend first day of 2018 skiing and snowshoeing

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POTSDAM — The woods around the Clarkson Adirondack Lodge are quiet, with students home for the holidays.

For the first day of the new year, however, the woods were occupied by the Laurentian Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club, which gathered at the lodge to go hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, birding or skijoring before gathering for a potluck.

“A lot of people have a day off, (it’s) a good way to start the new year, and it avoids people stuck in their chairs watching football,” said Tom B. Wheeler, the outgoing chairmen of the Laurentian Chapter, which covers St. Lawrence County and the Ottawa Valley.

Mr. Wheeler organized the annual outing, which is often, although not always, held at Clarkson. He has been a member of the Adirondack Mountain Club since 1993, and joined “because when I was hiking the High Peaks, the parking was cheaper,” he said.

Besides cheaper parking, the Adirondack Mountain Club maintains trails, advocates for conservation efforts, and organizes recreational and educational events — like the New Year’s Day outing.

“ADK does a lot of good things,” Mr. Wheeler said.

Despite the cold weather, which Mr. Wheeler predicted would drop attendance, at least nine people headed out on the trails. Some, like incoming chair John L. Barron, came all the way from Ottawa for the gathering. He estimates he has been to about 12 of the New Year’s Day outings.

“I’ve missed very few of them,” he said. “I missed at least one on account of the weather.” But this year, the cold was not enough to deter him from driving down to snowshoe one of the loops through the woods.

The round-the-year outdoor activities are part of what Mr. Barron likes about the Adirondack Mountain Club.

“There are activities in all seasons,” Mr. Barron said. “Here we are snowshoeing and skiing, there’s also paddling, cycling and hiking.”

Bob M. Platte brought one other winter activity — skijoring, or skiing while being pulled by a dog.

Mr. Platte and his wife are passionate about skiing. They moved to St. Lawrence County from Anchorage because, while they wanted to be in New York, they also wanted to stay as far north as possible to do more skiing.

“We love to ski,” Mr. Platte said. “Been doing it since 1985.”

Mr. Platte’s skijoring companion, his dog Skade, is named after the Norse goddess of skiing, winter and mountains. Dressed in booties and with a tow rope attached to her harness, Skade took the lead while Mr. Platte slid behind her.

Whether skiing, snowshoeing or skijoring, however, most people did not spend too much time in the cold.

“It’s a very short walk, it’s only a nominal kind of activity,” Mr. Barron said. “Really, it’s great to see people, that’s the essence of it.”

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