Matthew Patry, the director of student activities and a member of the Wellness Committee, has come up with a fun and exciting way to explore the woods of Castleton – on snowshoes.
A group of four, including this reporter, strapped some snowshoes to their feet recently and took off from behind Glenbrook Gymnasium.
The group, led by Patry, started out at around 12:30 p.m. and headed toward the cross-country trail in the woods.
As they trudged along, the chilly wind beat against their faces.
“Boy, its cold out, huh?” Patry, said to the group. They nodded unambiguously.
Entering the woods, they were struck by the almost perfect looking snow-coated trees that looked like a made-up scene from a movie.
After looking around for a while, the group started to head south toward the old rail-trail, when one in the group, Gillian Galle, a calculus professor, shouted out that there was a red-tailed hawk circling us from above.
“Wow, what a sight!” she said as the group members craned their necks to see the bird. It truly was a magnificent sight, and the group was eager to find more wildlife.
Patry, who is from Timouth, Vt., began reminiscing about how he got into snowshoeing.
“I started out very young. I used to go snowshoeing with my father and grandfather, who’s from Italy,” he said. “They loved to rabbit hunt, and that’s what you do in the middle of the winter, so I would go with him and his beagles and we would chase rabbits.”
Patry also talked to us about how his grandfather was a farmer in northern Italy, near the Alps, and how snowshoeing has always been dear to his family.
He said his favorite part about snowshoeing is “the beauty of the nature” and the “quietness of it.”
As we continued on our journey, the class encountered much deeper snow, a foot deep or more, and every step seemed heavier than the last. Trucking through the snow, class members started to lose their breath a bit, so stopped to take a quick break.
Heidi Cole, who is a custodian for Castleton College, was asked why she chose to participate in this class.
“I got snowshoes for Christmas and I thought it would be fun. This is my first time going snowshoeing other than around my house and I just thought it would be a good exercise and fresh air,” she said.
Galle also got snowshoes for Christmas. She told the group how she first explored her back yard with her husband and then started to venture out into other areas.
“We checked out Mount Saint Catherine, which is a trail right by Green Mountain College,” she said. “When I found out there was a local chapter and I could explore trails around Castleton which is closer to home, I thought I would check it out.”
Once on the rail-trail, the group started to head north back toward campus. At this point, the trail’s snow was packed down from people snowmobiling and walking on it making it much easier to snowshoe on.
With the trees along the trail guiding our path back to campus, the group started to share stories about snowshoeing, skiing, and school related stuff.
Patry shared a story about how he once ran into Paul McCartney in a ski lodge, which the group loved.
Before they knew it, the group members were back at campus. They shook hands and all started to walk in different directions, happy for the exercise and conversation.
The class meets every Thursday, at 12:30 in the Campus Center and Patry said he’d love to see more people showing up for.