By Judy Garrison

Living on Main Street in Andes I observe many people with a regular walking routine. I understand the motivation, as I too, walk for pleasure, health, and mood altering reasons combined. And where could one find a more easily accessible place of natural beauty to amble in? But I am, admittedly, an irregular and fair weather walker. The folks I see are far more disciplined than I could ever be. Let’s hear from a few.

Diane Decker, who is in Andes these days from April through mid-November, walks for fitness, and by all appearances sets out most every day. She walks from her home on Cabin Hill at the edge of the hamlet to Gladstone Hollow and back, about 2 ¼ miles, which she does in about 45 minutes, often stopping to visit with folks along the way. She used to extend her walk by adding a dogleg up Delaware Avenue to the Highway Department and back, but no longer does that.

Gene and Gladys McCarty can be seen every day from 5 pm, dapper and hat bedecked, on their usual route. From their Main Street home they walk along to the Upper High Street intersection, loop around back to Main Street, down the Tremperskill to the far entrance to Ballantine Park that they amble through, and then home. Gene had a double knee operation, and was instructed by his physician to walk daily to keep limber. I’d wager that their dutiful commitment has turned into a pleasurable ritual that they wouldn’t want to miss.

I’m not up and observing Main Street very often at 6 am. but I’ve heard that JoAnn Boerner can be sighted striding along that early, even in cold weather. Last summer I saw her accompanied by Mary Lou Barrett and Carol Barrett. I used to see Jennifer Finkle out power walking, but if she walks the Main St. route these days it’s not when I am up and watching.

After a day of sitting at her computer at CitiHope International, Dr. Tanya Soldak and her frequent walking companion, Josie Dittrich, head for the hills, motivated by a desire for general fitness and also as a stress reliever. One route that Tanya swears by is up Coulter Road behind the Post Office. She says the long incline affords a terrific cardio-pulmonary workout. On a gloomy day, when getting sun is important, they prefer walking on Cabin Hill, where they may alternate walking with jogging. Another route Tanya is partial to is up High Street to New Cemetery Road, then through the cemetery and beyond, taking the snowmobile trail up to a large oak tree where the views are gorgeous. Once, in wintertime, she encountered a howling coyote near a pile of rocks she calls “Stonehenge” and ran her fastest run ever back to town. When recently in Kyrgyzstan, Tanya tromped up some beautiful mountains and thinks she may have surprised her hardy hiking companions with her stamina gleaned from tramping the hills of Andes.

Barbara Cole climbs the hill behind her house virtually every day, walking stick in hand. She has been traversing these grounds of her old family farm since childhood. some days she may pick wildflowers, have a swim in the pond, or on reaching the crest, tend to daughter Wendy’s dogs. The views of the village are picturesque from up high, but that’s not why she tramps up, or not the whole reason. It’s just an essential part of her day, and I’m sure it’s part of what keeps her so spirited and lively.

Some of us have figured out how to use lunch time to healthy advantage. Deb Weaver, who manages Marty Donnelly’s insurance office, and Kathy DuMortier, who works at the Andes Bank, appear to walk every lunch break for a half hour. They adopt a vigorous stride, while conversing side by side, going to at least the edge of town and back.

Like clockwork, John Gregg leaves home at 5:45 pm daily and walks for ½ hour. His route is through Ballantine Park and along the stream to the Fire Hall, back on the Tremperskill to Forest Road, up Forest Road to the top end of the cemetery, a loop of the cemetery, and home.

Then there are the alternate modes. The walking trios like Mia and Matthew, and Seema and Clark, each couple walking with their babies strapped on. Jim Andrews and Tom Lavazzi can be seen jogging, especially on weekends. Letty Johnson has recently begun biking to work at CitiHope, a great way for those short of time to fit in exercise while conserving fuel. When the long awaited improvements on the roads and sidewalks are finished, walking, jogging, and biking will have fewer of the elements of an obstacle course and be even more enjoyable.


Gladys and Gene McCarty head toward Main Street.

Meanwhile, those of us who don’t already take advantage of our walkable village should take inspiration from the inveterate perambulators and get moving. Howard Ruff, cane in hand, is doing it and we all can, too!~