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Aldis Hill

02/19/05 12:00AM By Alan Boye
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(HOST) Many towns in Vermont maintain interesting walking trails. Commentator Alan Boye recently explored such a trail in Saint Albans.


(BOYE) The idea that St. Albans Vermont could have a rush hour would make any flatlander laugh out loud, but I have to wait for an opening in the lines of headlights before I finally scamper across Congress Street. It is only late afternoon, but dusk has begun to fall. I step into a small, open park. There's barely enough light for me to make out the mansion-sized houses on either side.

A young couple walks out of the woods. The man leads a friendly, slobbering black dog, and the woman carries a newborn infant nestled in a pack strapped to her chest. The young man points. "That's the trail to Aldis Hill there," he says. "You won't have any trouble finding your way in the dark."

I step into the woods and follow a wide trail past the remains of an old brick wall. The trees have shut out most of the city's glow, but I can see the trail climb up the dimly lit hill. The hardwood trees are wonderfully bare in the crisp dark air. A few faint lights flicker between their dark, skinny branches, and - far out on the horizon - I see the dark silhouette of distant hills.

I step over the two-foot high remains of a stone wall and climb up a steep slope. A network of trails crisscrosses the rugged terrain of Aldis Hill. The one I'm following levels off and then opens to the east. I stand at the top of the town's small ski-slope and see a few cars headed toward Canada on Interstate 89. I turn back into the woods and continue my climb.

Somewhere up here is a monument that tells the tale of a wolf - the last wolf ever seen in St. Albans - that was killed years ago at the top of the hill. Instead of the monument, however, I come to another clearing. I stand in the opening on a high rocky ridge with an expansive view of the night. The dark surface of the hill falls away before my feet. Directly below me, the yellow glow of St. Albans seems cozy under the sheltered protection of Aldis Hill. Down the length of the yawning Champlain Basin and in the far, far distance is the glow of larger cities to the south.

Long ago, the conscientious citizens of St. Albans set aside Aldis Hill as a special place where people could get away from the hustle and bustle of small town life and get a new perspective on things. What they left us was this rare gift of Vermont beauty.

This is Alan Boye just walking the hills of Vermont.
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