(Host) A recent hike with one of her brothers has author, essayist and
educator Deborah Lee Luskin appreciating all of Vermont’s changing
(Luskin) My middle brother lives in Colorado, at 10,000
feet. When he came to visit recently, he wanted to regain altitude, so
we climbed Killington, Vermont’s second tallest peak.
been most of a decade since David was last here, and more than thirty
years since he left Vermont, once his adopted state. Indeed, David’s the
one who introduced our whole family to alpine skiing, and he was the
first in the family to attend UVM. After graduating as an engineer, he
worked at one of the machine shops in Springfield, so he could ski.
is what David does when he’s not on the slopes. Now a commercial pilot,
my brother has figured out how to ski twenty days a month ten months
out of the year – in Colorado.
I don’t know if it’s being a
pilot that has him glued to the GPS on his iPhone, or some other
instinct for altitude and velocity, but before we started up the trail,
David turned on an app that monitored our location, elevation gain, and
We hiked the Bucklin Trail, up the west side of the
mountain. The first two miles follow an old woods road, and the trail
had been recently improved with duck boards, stone steps, and a couple
of sturdy bridges across Brewer’s Brook.
As pleased as I was to
keep up on this wide trail, I experienced a growing unease every time
the woman in his phone reported our progress. We covered the first mile
in twenty minutes and the second in just nineteen. But I knew this was
because we’d hardly begun climbing. The entire hike was only three and a
half miles, but our total elevation gain would be more than two
thousand feet, most of which was still ahead – and would be steep.
enough, the third mile was nature’s Stairmaster, and I was pushing
myself to keep up – until David yelled over his shoulder, "There’s so
much oxygen here! This is easy!" – and ran ahead.
He waited for
me where the Bucklin Trail intersects the Long Trail, which we followed
to the spur that led to the summit. If the previous mile had been
unending stairs, this last pitch was a ladder.
It was one of
those end-of-summer days of high pressure, clear skies and a cool breeze
that at forty-two hundred feet was cold enough to merit a fleece, a
hat, and some high calorie snacks while we enjoyed the long-distance
view from the great slab of rock at the top .
Back in the car,
David admired the Vermont landscape, especially the pattern of
settlement, with small villages punctuating the narrow valleys. And as
we arrived home, he sounded wistful. "Skiing’s the one sport I’m good
at," he said. "If only it snowed as much here as it does in Colorado, I
could live in Vermont.