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Snowshoeing club begins in Massena

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MASSENA — A new weekly winter walking club started Saturday at Robert Moses State Park’s nature center, but rough weather set it up for a slow start.

A heavy snowfall overnight proved both blessing and curse to the walking club’s first outing. The trail was coated in a fresh layer of deep snow, perfect for snowshoeing, but a constant downfall and slick roads meant that only program coordinator Debra A Donatto’s family braved the weather.

“It’s starting off slow,” Ms. Donatto said. “We’re hoping that as word gets out more people start making their way out here.”

The program will host guided tours along the trail monthly, but those interested are encouraged to come out every week. Snowshoe and pedometer rentals are free, and everyone who joins will be given a walking log to keep track of their exercise.

“Even though it’s winter, there are still opportunities to get outside and get into nature and exercise,” Ms. Donatto said.

The walking club is part of a larger slate of events funded by a $15,000 grant from Alcoa Inc. to the Friends of the Nature Center at Robert Moses State Park. The “Mind, Body and Soul - Come Alive!” program will feature a slate of outdoor arts and fitness classes throughout the winter.

“People keep saying there’s nothing to do in Massena, but here we are handing it to them on a silver platter,” Ms. Donatto said.

The program began earlier this month with a digital photography course.

Weekly meditation classes begin in February. A snow labyrinth will be constructed to hold meditation walks.

On Dec. 29 at 6:30 p.m. the nature center will host a guided snowshoe walk under the light of a full moon.

Ms. Donatto brought her two children, Halyn J. and Rhea M. Bautista, along for the walk, along with her father Richard L. Martin.

“It’ doesn’t matter what age you are,” Ms. Donatto said.

Mr. Martin has already walked the trail once this winter. He said the trails are a great way to get close to nature.

“Birds land right on your finger,” he said.

Reah Bautista, 10, has never worn snowshoes before, but the freshly-fallen snow made them a must-have accessory for the walk.

“It’s like walking with two sleds tied to my feet,” she said.

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