We’re starting a new now-and-then feature to help readers get to know Burlington Section members who lead many hikes. We are starting with Pete Saile, written by Valerie Wilkins.

Pete Saile grew up in a small town in New York just across the border from Bennington. As a restless teenager somewhat bored by high school, he was fortunate to be introduced to the Adirondacks and Green Mountains by family friend and longtime GMC member John Underwood. Through numerous hiking and canoeing trips with John, Pete developed a tremendous affinity and enthusiasm for the great outdoors – and an equally strong desire to share the wilderness experience with others. These themes have remained constant throughout his adult life.

Pete loves to lead hikes because he feels it’s a great way to get folks out to see things in their own “backyard” that they might not otherwise get to see – including Vermont’s many beautiful mountains, valleys, streams, and lakes and the incredible variety of animal and plant life that inhabit them. One of Pete’s favorite hikes on the Long Trail is along the ridgeline from Lincoln Gap to the Appalachian Gap. He recalls stopping for lunch one day at one of the many lovely vistas along the ridgeline and being surprised by the sudden whoosh of a glider as it soared just above his head, close enough to wave to the pilot and see him wave in return! Wherever he goes, Pete encourages fellow hikers to enjoy the surprises they may find along the trail in the course of the day’s hike.

Pete likes the camaraderie that develops during a day of hiking with a group. As a leader, he tries to get to know a little something about each of the hikers in the group. He sometimes alternates hiking in front of the group and at the end so he can spend time with everyone on the hike. And he often packs a little food and beverage to share with the group before they get in their cars and head in separate directions at the end of the day.

In addition to leading trips for the GMC, Pete has been a Shelter Adopter. First, he adopted and took care of French Camp and then Bear Hollow Shelter after French Camp was replaced. For the past several years, he’s been the adopter for the Glen Ellen Lodge just north of Mount Ellen in Fayston. Fellow GMC member Brenda Wright gave Pete the trail name “Outhouse” for his help in constructing the composting outhouse at the Glen Ellen Lodge. Pete believes that by keeping the shelter clean and well-maintained he is encouraging other folks to leave the shelter in the same shape they found it. And he simply enjoys heading out on a hike to visit the shelter!

When he’s not out hiking, you might find Pete skiing at Mad River Glen, canoeing the region’s rivers and lakes, tending the garden, brewing beer, or cooking up a special meal at the home he shares with his wife, Deb Lane.

For folks who have been hesitant to go on an outing with the GMC, Pete suggests you just give it a try. He encourages young people to sign up for hikes in hopes that they too will develop a love of the outdoors. To get started, review the list of trips and find one that sparks your interest. Give the trip leader a call, and he or she will help you determine whether the trip is a good fit for you. Aside from a small initial investment in hiking gear and the cost of gas to get you to the trailhead (and your annual dues to the Green Mountain Club!), hiking is free entertainment that’s available to everyone!

Join Pete for an upcoming hike. Pete will be leading a hike along the ridgeline from Lincoln Gap to the Appalachian Gap on Friday, August 1. You can enjoy a full day’s hike in good company with good snacks and 360-degree views. Call Pete at 658-0912.