Mid-Hudson Adirondack Mountain Club offers free cross-country ski lessons

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Got some holiday poundage to lose and a New Year’s resolution to become more physically active, but no network of outdoorsy buddies on hand to lend support and encouragement? You’re not alone; the Mid-Hudson chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has plenty of organized outings to offer, even in the dead of winter.

With approximately 30,000 members statewide, the ADK was founded in 1922, with the mission of protecting New York State wildlands and waters while fostering their recreational use. The Mid-Hudson chapter got its start in 1947, the brainchild of Roosevelt Library archivist Ed Nixon, and included many Vassar College faculty members. The last living charter member, Madelene Pierce, is now 93; among the original active group was FDR confidante Margaret (Daisy) Suckley. In time the group expanded its horizons well beyond Dutchess County and spun off a group of Catskills peak-baggers called the 3500 Club.

Year-round, each ADK chapter organizes outings that involve hiking, canoeing, kayaking, cross-country skiing, camping, backpacking, biking, mountaineering, snowshoeing and other “muscle-powered” outdoor activities. While it’s a membership organization – annual dues begin at the $25 level, plus $10 to affiliate with a local chapter – non-members are invited to check out some day outings for free before you decide to sign up. If you get serious, you will be asked to write letters in support of wilderness preservation efforts and may even want to participate in some volunteer trail maintenance days; but most folks are in it primarily for the jam-packed outings calendar.

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For the Mid-Hudson group, the Shawangunks, Catskills, Taconics, Hudson Highlands, Harriman State Park, Hudson River estates and county parks are typical destinations, with activities determined by weather conditions. The chapter’s ever-evolving 2018 calendar lists 22 outings in January alone. Some are beginner-friendly day hikes to places like Mills-Norrie State Park or Peach Hill; others are more ambitious, like the eight-mile, 22,000-foot-elevation-gain hike or snowshoe from Big Indian to Eagle Mountain in the Catskills on Martin Luther King Day. There are also overnights to more distant sites, such as this weekend’s three-day cross-country ski expedition to the lake-effect snowfields of the Tug Hill Plateau.

Not ready for such a big leap? You can stick a tentative toe in the snow any Monday in January, as volunteer Marty Carp offers Beginner Cross-Country Ski Lessons in the Gunks beginning at 10:30 a.m. on January 15, 22 and 29. Park at the Mohonk Mountain House’s Gatehouse at 1000 Mountain Rest Road for this coming Monday’s lesson, taking place on flat Bonticou Road. The next two lessons will take place on Cedar Drive, so park at the Mohonk Preserve’s Spring Farm parking lot, off Upper 27 Knolls Road in High Falls. If you’d like to participate, contact the leader at martymcarp@gmail.com.

Carp –  who, according to ADK’s Mid-Hudson Trails newsletter, likes to tell XC newbies to practice moving like a gorilla – also leads outings for more experienced skiers on the Mohonk Preserve on Tuesdays and Fridays. If snowshoeing is more your thing, become a member and you can sign up for a “quick response” e-mail notification list for short-notice snowshoe hikes.

To find out more about what Mid-Hudson ADK has to offer, call (845) 255-0531 or (845) 303-3764 or visit https://midhudsonadk.org.

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