Grandeur Atop Gile: Viewing Peak Fall Foliage in the Upper Valley
A novelty of east coast autumns that I have discovered since becoming a New Hampshirite has been the expansive outburst of reds, oranges, and yellows on the leaves of each sugar maple and elm tree. During this season, a tradition for the common Dartmouth student is to take a hike up Gile Mountain in Windsor County, Vermont to view the fall canvas of rolling hills atop an abandoned fire tower, and surprisingly, I had never participated in this custom until just this month. But I am back to document my experience and to convince any prospective or current students to revel in the grandeur of the northeast's fall foliage by taking part in this Dartmouth tradition as well!
My short adventure began at 5:40 in the morning, when my friend, Allison, and I left campus and drove twenty minutes to the Gile Mountain Trailhead in Norwich, Vermont. On arrival around 6 am, we bundled ourselves in layer upon layer to combat rain and the 40-degree fall air, and began our short trek into the wilderness. Not long after we began our sunrise hike (otherwise known as a "sunrike" amongst the Dartmouth community), groups of other fellow Dartmouth students arrived to get a glimpse of the foliage during its peak as well–this trail is very popular during the autumn!
The terrain was easy to navigate, and the trail itself was mostly flat with the exception of some zig-zagged stairs when nearing the fire tower. The hike was a short 20-30 minute one-way trip, but it felt much shorter, as Allison and I listened to music and talked about the beauty of our surroundings during its short duration. Once we reached the fire tower, we climbed its stairs and reached the top as the sun was coming up, but unfortunately, the clouds and mist covered our view. This, however, did not deter us from taking in the sight. The vibrant colors of the trees below us poked through the gray, and we were still met with a strong sense of accomplishment alongside a breathtaking view, even in the less than ideal weather conditions.
After relishing in the beauty of Gile Mountain, we gradually made our way back to the trailhead and finished our short journey with breakfast at Four Aces Diner, a retro-style restaurant in West Lebanon, New Hampshire. Although this trip only occurred a few weeks ago, I now look back at its pictures with a sense of satisfaction and appreciation for the nature that surrounds the campus of Dartmouth College. I will always be incredibly grateful for how accessible gorgeous landscapes, like Gile Mountain, are to students and east coast locals alike.