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The Romance of the Long Trail (1/03)

How Fate and the Green Mountain Club Brought Four Couples Together

Rod & Emily

It was at Bolton Lodge. After serving in the U.S. Air Corps as a B-24 pilot during WWII, Rod, a Burlington native and GMC member since 1938, was commuting to classes at UVM and acting as caretaker at Bolton Lodge in 1946. I, from Little Rock, Arkansas and having graduated from St. Louis University with a degree in medical technology, accepted a position at the UVM medical school.

On my first weekend in Vermont, one of the girls in the lab invited me to accompany her to Bolton Lodge on Sunday. We took the Barre bus, stopping in Bolton. We walked up the road to the lodge, where the girl’s husband was visiting Rod for the weekend. At the end of the day, Rod gave us a ride back to Burlington and invited me to go hiking the next weekend. We went up the Forestry Trail to the summit of Camel’s Hump — a real workout for me — but what a view, what a thrill! And that’s how it all began.

There were many more hikes with the GMC and UVM Outing Club and on December 26, 1947, we were married in the Methodist Church in Burlington. In the ensuing years, we have had the pleasure of introducing our three sons to hiking on the Long Trail. Continuing to live in Burlington all these years, we are about to celebrate our 55th anniversary and we thank God for our many blessings.

–Emily Rice

Joe & Cathy

Joe and I first met on the top of a mountain in Vermont more than 30 years ago. Back then, the mountains were never crowded, so everyone on top that day talked with each other to share the sheer beauty of the day and place.

Several weeks later, he called me and asked if I wanted to join him on a Saturday Green Mountain Club canoe outing to Otter Creek. He was going to pick me up at 5:45 a.m. I was ready at the appointed hour, but not so my future husband. Joe has never been good about getting up early, but I did not know that at the time. It was not until 8:00 that Saturday that he sheepishly called me to say he had overslept. Then he had the nerve to ask if I still wanted to go on the outing with him. We were too late for the club trip, but did our own variation of the Otter Creek canoe.

That is how it all started. We have not been on any early morning outings since. Both Joe and I and our two daughters have hiked the LT end to end and the club continues to be an important part of our lives.

–Cathy Frank

Andy & Carlene

It all began in 1973 while Carlene was the Burlington Section membership chairman. She received several postcards from me asking about GMC membership and the rebuilding of Puffer Shelter. It wasn’t until June 28, 1975 that we met on an arctic alpine flower hike up the Sunset Ridge Trail. We became friends as we occasionally went on some of the same outings.

In 1976, I left for two years in the Peace Corps in Guatemala. I corresponded with Carlene as my GMC contact, but it still wasn’t a serious relationship. When I returned in 1978, we went with four others backpacking the last 100 miles of the AT in Maine. We were getting friendlier after that.

In 1979, Carlene accepted a position at Clearwater National Forest in Idaho. I thought it would be only a summer job, but she stayed as a permanent employee. When she came home on vacation, she joined me for a backpacking trip in the Mahoosucs in Maine. This was when we realized how we felt. Carlene resigned from the Forest Service and returned to Vermont in the fall of 1980.

In 1981, we co-led a GMC excursion to Yellowstone National Park. On the 54-hour bus ride to Bozeman, Montana, our friends Tom Brooks and Keith Edson pondered getting us an engagement ring from a vending machine at the bus depot, since it appeared we didn’t know what our next step would be.

They were some surprised when we announced a month later we had gotten married. We even had Tom take our photo at Mt. Sheridan, which we used on our announcement, without telling him what we planned to use it for.

—Andy Squires

Pam & Robert

Gillis moved north from Miami in 1984. His first GMC outing was a ski trip on Malletts Bay led by Peg Whitson. He fell through the ice into the cold water. I wasn’t on that trip.

I met him in 1985 on a cross country ski outing at Underhill State Park led by Tom Brooks and Rose Marie Bagioni (another couple who met on a GMC canoe outing in Quetico, Ontario). Several of us then went out for pizza and a slide show at Burlington High School. Then we started dating and married May 17, 1986.

—Pam Gillis

In Memoriam

Robert Gillis died on November 23, 2002. For the past dozen years or so, he did most of the maintenance on the section’s chain saws, ever since I became Trails co-chair, and he went on lots of work outings doing the chainsaw work wherever he went. Even when he was on chemo, he carried and used the chainsaw, hiking from Lake Mansfield past Clark Mountain and almost to Mayo. He also went on a number of fun outings.

He held office only once, as alternate director, which didn’t work out well, as he wasn’t meant to be an officer. He much preferred doing to talking. He shared different interests with GMC friends: old cars with Rod Rice, guns with Andy Squires and history with Tony Wignall.

—Pam Gillis