Today was the time-honored tradition of Mount Holyoke Mountain Day!  Started in 1838, Mountain Day celebrates the mountain, the fall, good friends, and time off from classes, homework, books, and studying.  The bells toll at seven o’clock in the morning for five straight minutes, calling the students from their beds and to the top of the mountain.  Some drive, some hike, but it is being at the top that counts, meeting friends, eating ice cream, and taking pictures.

The Summit House, Mount Holyoke
The Summit House, Mount Holyoke

While I, sadly, could not spend the day partaking in any traditional Mountain Day festivities, I did take time to remember some of my favorite Mount Holyoke outdoor moments.  My favorite two come from then and now…

Winter, 2003: Snow hiking and sliding with Michelle and Jessica


Michelle and Jess at the top

My friends Michelle Boudreau Mattingly and Jessica Ketchen and I decided, as trip leaders of outing clubs often do, to lead a hike.  It was the middle of winter, but we thought hey–winter hiking is fun!  We advertised the hike up the Notch on our website and sent an email to the Mount Holyoke Outing Club listserv, and yet we were the only crazies to show up.

In the cold and snow we hiked up the Notch, a hike up one of the Seven Sisters on the way to Mount Holyoke, to see… well, nothing. Visibility was low, the snow was falling, and it was COOOOOLD.  But fun, and beautiful.  It was just the three of us on this trip; everyone else was curled up warmly with their comforters in their rooms watching a movie, studying in the library, or hanging out in Blanchard.  But not us.  No, that Saturday we hiked the mountain.  And then we slid down:

Jess and I sliding down the mountain

And then, we drove to Harrells for ice cream.

August 2009, Hiking the Metacomet-Monadnock trail to the summit of Mount Holyoke with Mark & Gordon:

One Saturday this past August, Mark and I decided that we’d drive out to the Pioneer Valley and hike Mount Holyoke.  I’d promised him long ago that I’d take him there, but this was the first time we’d been together.  We took Gordon with us, because he too likes to hike.  And what a good hiker he was! This trail is steep in many places and easy in others, and has beautiful views of the Oxbow, North Hampton, and the Pioneer Valley to the west.

The Oxbow, from vista on the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail
The Oxbow, from vista on the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail

The day we chose to hike might have been one of the hottest and muggiest of the year.  It was quite warm and buggy and pretty disgusting but we had lots of extra water and snacks, and hopes of cool drinks and sandwiches after reaching the summit, so we hiked on.  We hiked past the Mount Holyoke Outing Club cabin, up a steep knoll and along the ridge towards the Summit House.  One of my favorite moments from this hike was about 2/3 the way through.  We had just passed one of the vistas looking out to the Oxbow and were continuing to move along the ridge and down one of the low points.  We reached a big pile of rocks from which we’d climb down into a little ravine that we would walk in for a while before going up the long push to the top.  Gordon approached the rocks carefully… he looked down, tried one path down and didn’t like it.  He tried another and didn’t like that one either.  Then he stopped and sat.  We urged him “Come on Gordon! You can do it!” as he’d climbed up and down other piles of rocks and steep sections like a champ.  But not this pile.  Nope.  Too steep, and he was no dummy.  So Mark climbed down about half way, picked him up and carried him down.  I’m not too sure Gordon enjoyed being carried, but Mark put him down and we all continued on our way up the trail to the summit.

Once on top we took the traditional photograph in front of the Summit Sign:

Anna, Mark & Gordon on the Summit of Mount Holyoke

and then drove to Mount Holyoke (the College) where we bought ourselves those cold drinks and sandwiches we’d hiked for and sat on Adirondack chairs on quiet Blanchard Green to rest our toes and weary minds.

Relaxing on Blanchard Green

Today there was no hiking for me, but I read tweets all day from @mtholyoke about all the fun times that students were having going on hikes, hanging out at the summit, and eating ice cream with President Creighton.

I cannot say that I hiked any mountains, or even enjoyed the wilds of nature.  But I did conquer something…

A mountain of BerryLine froyo.  Yes indeed.

Perhaps next year I’ll hike a mountain instead?

How did you spend your Mountain Day?

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