As a south-Floridian, I don’t really define myself as a “winter person.” I really like the heat, the sunshine, the rain, and the comfort of sandals. Being raised in a place of constant summer meant major adjustments were to be made during the long winters at Middlebury. I had to buy socks that covered my ankles and were as thick as my pinky finger; I had to learn to walk on icy sidewalks; and I had to find the joys and comforts of that once foreign season that would define about half of each academic year. I had to find that “invincible summer” within the cold, beautiful winter in the mountains.
Last year I thought the best way to do this was to simply get outside. My friend Emma and I ran to a local mountain (Snake Mountain), did a 2mile sunrise hike, and ran/hitch-hiked back.* It was quite the adventure and oodles of fun. But for some reason, I didn’t go for another hike until Spring. With that in mind and my relatively indoor-driven J-term, I decided to revive my winter adventuress within me: I signed up for a Middlebury Mountain Club (MMC) sunrise hike.
MMC hosts tons of different outdoor opportunities throughout the semesters. You can go kayaking, rock-climbing ice-climbing, camping, winter-camping, sunrise-hiking, hiking, etc. Most trips are free and entirely funded by the club. Because of that, students sign up for trips on an individual basis. So you never know who could be on your next trip! It’s a great way to get outdoors and meet some new friends.
I signed up for a winter-sunrise-hike of Mount Philo this past week. at 5:00am I showed up to Adirondack Circle to meet eight bright-eyed and bushy tailed students who were as crazy as me to go hiking in 15 degree weather. Kent and Parker were the trip leaders, trained Mountain Club guides who ensured that I would be taken care of if I froze from hypothermia. Kent also provided micro-spikes for all of us newbies who didn’t own our own pair. (If you are now thinking you are a newbie based on your lack of knowledge of micro-spikes, micro-spikes go over your shoes so that you have better traction and grip while hiking in the snow. They are great.)
After a twenty minute drive and a mild hike to the top, we saw an awesome view of the awakening neighboring towns:
…but no sun. Turns out Mt. Philo faces West and the clouds were too thick for any westward reflection. Regardless, it was a great way to kick of the first Thursday of Spring semester! And the group of us wants to go back for a sunset hike this spring.
*A great story of friendship between Middlebury students and two local high-schoolers.