They reclaimed the Rail Trail

Flowers and a heart were left on the trail in remembrance of Honoree Fleming.

As I, and so many people would agree, the D&H Rail Trail is an integrative part of Castleton. Not only for students and faculty, but members of the town and extending.

It’s a place for walking, running and biking. Catching up with friends and loved ones and of course, walking the dogs.

In my case, it’s often used to sit and write somewhere.

But all of that came to a halt following the tragic murder of Honoree Fleming on Oct 5. Understandably so. Many students did not even want to be on campus, let alone on the trail which it had happened.

This is why I was so glad to hear of the “Take Back the Trail” event. Although the tragedy is still fresh in our memory, and many still feel fear or apprehension of the area, it is important to not be robbed of our simple joys and daily routines. Access to the outdoors is a basic right.

It seemed the event accomplished what it hoped to. Approximately 60 people showed up, many bringing their dogs and livening the atmosphere with conversation. Many commented on the nice weather. Sunny. Low 60s. It was 5 p.m., in between daylight and sunset.

After about a half an hour, we reached Fleming’s memorial spot. There were flowers and other mementos, in addition to the flowers at the head of the trail. Many stopped and took a moment to reflect.

Some decided to head back, and others continued their walk.

The walk was overwhelmingly positive. However, at that moment, some feelings did arise. Different, depending on who you ask. Some of grief, or disbelief, but generally, I would say, of remembrance.

One thing is for certain; people found a sense of comfort and familiarity being in such a large group. This is something highly encouraged going forward, going out in groups or pairs, contributing to a stronger feeling and likelihood of safety.

Starting Monday, Oct. 23, Browns Auto Salvage will be hosting a walking group Monday through Friday from 12 to 1 p.m., walking about 30 min from the South Street entrance and back, providing the perfect opportunity for people to walk in numbers.

I think this is a terrific idea, and definitely what people need right now.

And reflecting on a recent interview with Castleton Chief of Police Peter Mantello, I think it’s a good idea to apply the “yellow color-code awareness” when not in groups. This is not the level of being fearful, rather generally aware of one’s surroundings.

A worthy practice no matter where you are.

Students and faculty walk on the Rail Trail in a symbolic “Taking back the Rail Trail” walk after the Oct. 5 shooting death of former Castleton Dean Honoree Fleming.

– Pearl Bellomo

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