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Search for color on Mount Norris

09/27/03 12:00AM By Alan Boye

(Host) As the unmistakable signs of Autumn spread across our green hills, commentator Alan Boye sets out in pursuit of color.

(Boye) My boot skids across a slippery cobblestone. I stumble forward and then catch myself. I'm walking on a trail that follows a dry streambed. Just to the right of this rocky route, the noise of the diverted stream splashes through the dark woods.

Carefully I step from one rock to another. Some of the stones are secure, but others wobble as I step on them.

I am following the Mt. Norris trail in the northern Green Mountains of Vermont. I hope to get a view of autumn's glory from the top of the mountain. It's a crystal day in early autumn. Cool sunlight filters through the trees. The view of the season's beauty must be stunning from the top.

I sure hope so, because the trail has grown even steeper. It leaves the treacherous streambed and struggles up a steep slope. One thing is certain: the trail is headed up a mountainside. I jam my walking stick in between two stout boulders and step up the rocks as if I'm climbing a staircase. I huff and puff my way ever-upwards until finally the trail levels off for a brief moment.

I peer back down through the trees, but all I can see through the dark woods is a tiny glimpse of brilliant light on a distant hillside.

I climb again. Instead of growing easier, it seems as if every step of the walk is becoming more difficult. The trail swings right past a huge, tan boulder. I grab trees and rocks to use as handholds, and pull myself higher.

I emerge onto a small rocky ledge. Dense woods block most of the view, but I can see a small part of a red and green hillside across Eden Valley from me. I turn back to the trail.

I hoist myself up and over another ledge and suddenly face a massive rocky wall. Someone has spray-painted an orange arrow on the face of the wall to show me the way to go.

It points upward. Far above me, a tree blazed with a trail marker clings to the rock face. In order to continue, I will have to press myself flat against the stone wall and move from foothold-to-foothold like a professional rock climber.

It's too much. I turn around.

I resigned myself to not seeing autumn's brilliant hillsides from the top of Mt. Norris, but just as I start back down, I see a single maple leaf on the trail. I stop and pick it up. The leaf is freshly fallen and unblemished. It glows like a rainbow, but colored only in shades of red. Crimson. Scarlet. All the way back down I twirl the single leaf in my hands and watch the blood-red beauty of autumn dance before me.

This is Alan Boye just walking the hills of Vermont.

Alan Boye teaches at Lyndon State College. He spoke to us from our studio in Norwich.
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