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Memories of Gardiner Lane (5/05)

Gardiner died in January at the age of 90. He was a long-time member of the Burlington Section and an honorary life member of the Green Mountain Club. Over the years, he served in many roles, including GMC president and acting executive director. He also had been co-adopter at Buchanan Shelter until last year when he could no longer participate because of health reasons.

Gardiner inspired a lot of us by keeping active and energetic well into his eighties. Many people think of him as the father of backcountry skiing in Vermont. He was active in the Catamount Trail Association and developed many of the cross-country ski trails at Bolton Valley (including the Bolton to Trapp Lodge section of the Catamount Trail). He also founded the “Old Goats”, a group of retirees who took it on themselves to keep these trails cleared and ready for skiers.

Several Burlington Section members have fond and special memories of Gardiner.

The first is from Clem Holden, a long-time friend:

For many years, Gardiner and I were shelter adopters for Buchanan Shelter. Roy Buchanan, for whom the shelter is named, retired from trail and shelter work at age 78. So, in 2001, when I was 78, I told trail chief Chris Hanna that Gardiner and I were retiring. Chris asked me if I’d asked Gardiner. I said no but I would. Gardiner’s answer was immediate: NO WAY. He wanted to continue!

Here are other memories of Gardiner, from many other GMC members.

I met Gardiner one time on the Butler Lodge Trail. He looked so frail and old that I simply couldn’t believe he hadn’t been dropped there by a helicopter - but, no, he’d hiked every step.

Ten years ago I skied the Honey Hollow section of the CTA with 80-year-old Gardiner. I was 40 years old and couldn't keep up with the Old Goat.

I first met Gardiner at the warming hut at Bolton Valley. I was introduced to him and later learned how important he was in that area because of all his work developing the trails. I was impressed!

When I was chair of the shelter committee Gardiner was a co-adopter of Buchanan Lodge. He told me that when the relocation of the LT changed in the Winooski Valley he was going to move a wood stove in to the lodge for winter skiing.

You’d see Gardiner walking and you’d think he was really old. But then he’d put on cross-country skis, and he was so nimble and skilled you had to forget his age.

One thing Gardiner always did was shake your hand with that two-finger grip.

One thing Gardiner always did was greet people when they came to cross-country ski. He’d tell them the trail conditions and invite them in to warm up.

If you wanted a favor from Gardiner, all you had to do is promise him a plate of cookies. He’d come through every time!

Something that I learned from Gardiner was to be warm and open, to smile and laugh.

Gardiner was also an accomplished artist. One of his watercolors is on the cover of the Catamount Trail Association guidebook.

I spoke to Gardiner about signing my seventh edition of the CTA guidebook. I regret not getting the guidebook to him before his passing.

And, finally –

Gardiner was famous for psychic powers.

(Editors’ Note: There’s got to be quite a story behind that memory!)

Gardiner Lane will be deeply missed.