Gawler '05 gives new meaning to 'crunchy'

by Jennifer Garfinkel | 11/18/04 6:00am

Editor's note: This is the second in a series of articles profiling students who at first glance embody various Dartmouth stereotypes. In this piece, The Dartmouth examines the campus outdoorsman.

Interests on the average profile often include basketball, singing or shopping, but for Rory Gawler '05, the first interest is wood. While most Facebook photos find Dartmouth students chugging a beer or giving a thumbs-up, Gawler's photo shows him shouldering spruce logs.

With a love of nature and an affinity for being dirty, Dartmouth Outing Club president Gawler exemplifies a Dartmouth "crunch."

Walking past the steps of the Collis Center, it is common to hear sweet rhythms and smooth strings echoing from a guitar. Usually, the musician is Gawler. He spends his time strumming on his guitar on the steps of Robinson Hall, as long as he's not already busy playing frisbee with the ultimate frisbee team.

Tuesday afternoon, Gawler stopped by one of his favorite haunts, room 13 of Robinson Hall, to chat with friends, roommates and fellow Outing Club members. People weren't the room's only contents -- Gawler's pack, guitar case, T-shirt, pants, jacket and bags were sprawled across the couch or hanging on the wall.

"He kind of lives in this room," said Helen Wilbur '05 affectionately.

After gathering his belongings, Gawler headed out for a midweek overnight trip on Mount Moosilauke for "some food, hanging out and getting a good night's sleep."

To Gawler, a crunchy person does not necessarily wear dirty clothes, but, at the least, is adorned in "well-worn" clothing. A crunch is someone "who is interested in the outdoors, but not exclusively," he said. Gawler cited other crunchy characteristics as a lack of perfume or cologne, the possibility of dreadlocks and a taste for granola or trail mix. But Does Rory Gawler even like granola?

"Not very much, I'm not a huge fan. I like granola bars. I'm neither vegetarian nor vegan," Gawler said, defending himself against the stereotype.

He doesn't like granola and he's not a vegetarian, but there must be a reason why he's considered by many to be a campus crunch.

"I have not showered in several days," he admitted, claiming he could not remember how long it has exactly been. "And look at my pants. They're dirty and have holes in them."

Gawler offered a lack of hot water in his house as an excuse for not showering but remained serenely calm about his filth. By this point, a slight odor was beginning to emit from the threads on Gawler's body.

"I'm Canadian as well; I'm sure that adds to it," he said, proposing another reason why he is crunchy. Those who know him, though, would beg to differ on this point.

"Did he mention that he grew up in downtown Toronto?" Jean Polfus '06 said.

Actually, Gawler is not even fully Canadian.

"His dad is from New Jersey," Wilbur said.

Although his friends like to tease him, it's hard to argue that Gawler is no crunchy outdoorsman. In addition to being Outing Club president, he served as chair of Cabin and Trail last spring and the Outing Club tour director during his sophomore year. An active member of the forestry team, he spent a whole year heading the construction of Spruce Moose, a cabin for overnight hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

When Gawler isn't sporting well-worn clothes, he likes to walk around naked, said friend Jean Polfus '06.

"Probably all of Cabin and Trail and the frisbee team has seen him naked," Richard Trierweiler '05 said.

In addition to walking around naked, Gawler fosters his image by setting his BlitzMail reply-to as "Charismatic Megafauna." Megafauna is a term used in environmental science to describe big animals like lions and bears, Gawler explained. He went on to say that people concentrate efforts on saving these animals because they are "cute," when in actuality there are other important animals that are more crucial to the ecosystem.

This led to his BlitzMail nickname.

"I'm kind of largish and charismatic," he said.

The psychology major has just declared a French minor, allowing him to operate on a five-year plan so that he won't need to leave at the end of this year. Gawler has been a French drill instructor for seven terms.

Gawler has been involved in his outdoor hobbies since high school, during which he was "bored to tears." Growing up in a city, where "the urban sprawl is incredible," Gawler found it necessary to create an outing club at his school and applied to Dartmouth mostly because of its outing club's reputation.