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Gile Mountain Tower Trail

03/19/05 12:00AM By Alan Boye
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(HOST) Commentator Alan Boye says that early morning can be a great time to see the world from a new perspective, especially if you can gain a little altitude.


(BOYE) It's not yet 8:00 a.m. and the weather has already shifted a half dozen times. When I started up the trail, the woods were gold in the light of a late winter's dawn. Now snowflakes as fat as quarters float down from the sky.

I am walking up Gile Mountain Tower Trail just west of Norwich, Vermont. The trail itself has a good snow pack and makes for an invigorating morning's hike. I march up the trail, detouring through the open woods around a few of the iciest parts. The path is a part of a network of public trails in the Norwich area. In most seasons, people riding mountain bikes also use this trail. Even with the snow cover, I can see where their not-so-single tracks have chewed up the low areas.

I come to where the trail crosses some power lines. I stop. The weather has turned again, and low clouds hug the tops of the hills off towards New Hampshire. I stare out at the world, but my mind is a whirl of early-morning thoughts, all of them trite and commonplace. The wind whistles through the trees.

I re-enter the woods through a couple of birches, and soon come to an old, but well-built cabin. I pass it and work my way up the last steep pitch to the fire tower. In places the wind has swept the path clear of snow and I walk on granite bedrock. I reach the tower and inspect the steps. Unlike many fire towers throughout Vermont, the one at Gile Mountain is easy to climb. For me, the biggest problem with climbing a fire tower is fear. On many fire tower steps there is nothing but a skinny handrail between you and thin air. The Gile Mountain Tower at least has a metal mesh between you and certain doom.

I reach the top and stand on the platform. The wind howls. Some of the gusts must be over 30 miles an hour. The tower rocks and sways. It shudders in the wind, but I barely notice because I am stunned by the view. From the high hills south of Hanover, to the sharp cliffs of the Palisades near Fairlee, the gold light shimmers on the world. Layers upon layers of white and purple hills vanish into the distance. The sun is hidden behind a large cloud. From the edges of the glowing cloud, golden sunbeams radiate from the unseen sun like some heavenly crown.

This is Alan Boye just walking the hills of Vermont.

Alan Boye teaches at Lyndon State College. He spoke from our studio at the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury.
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