Posted: September 29, 2009
The pealing of the Abbey Chapel bells at 7 am on a sunny fall day can only mean one thing: It’s Mountain Day. On September 29, the MHC community awoke to the news that classes were cancelled for the day. Students, faculty, and staff headed to the summit of Mount Holyoke to celebrate the College’s oldest tradition, which began in 1838, the year after the College was founded.
While many seniors find their final Mountain Day a bittersweet occasion, this year the event is especially poignant, as it marks President Creighton’s last year at the College.
“We’re sad it’s our last one,” Amany Soliman ’10 said. “But we’re excited to be celebrating it with Joanne. Besides, we’ll be back. We have so many underclassmen friends. We may not be here for the Mountain Day, but the mountain will always be here for us to climb.”
Soliman and Laura Appel ’10, who have climbed the mountain every year, woke up at 6:30 am to check for signs posted by the Residential Life staff. “We knew before the bells and emails,” Appel said. “We have a group that climbs together every year. It’s part of our tradition here. We had breakfast and came on the first shuttle bus.”
Some visitors to the summit were celebrating their first Mountain Day. Melanie Guldi, assistant professor of economics, arrived with her 17-month-old triplets, Aiden, Brody, and Colin. Guldi’s colleague, economics professor Mike Robinson, carried his two-year-old daughter, Maeve, up the mountain in a baby backpack. “I try to make it up here every year,” he said. “I used to ride my mountain bike up.”
Not all who arrived at the summit came from the parking lot at the foot of the mountain. Members of the College’s Outing Club climbed the backside of the mountain, having hiked all the way from the Notch in South Amherst. Hannah Cochran ’13, Elizabeth Tallmadge ’13, Marly Stasi ’12, and Julianna Lord ’13 made the trek in two hours. “We went pretty fast,” Tallmadge said.
“Where’s the ice cream?” Cochran said. “Oh no. It’s not here yet? We beat the ice cream!”
A few minutes later, Sally Arthur FP’12 emerged from the hiking trail that the winds steeply up from the mountain’s halfway point and collapsed on the steps leading to the Summit House. “I’m afraid of heights!” she exclaimed. “I almost died!” She and her friends Kristen Koepsell ’12 and Tomiko Kimura FP’12 caught their breath and headed for the ice cream.
When Joanne Creighton arrived she was, as always, surrounded by students eager to be photographed with the departing president. Creighton explained that she had just returned from a trip to England, and was heading to Philadelphia the following day. She was pleased to have such glorious weather for Mountain Day. “You can’t always trust the weather up here,” she said. There was a hint of nostalgia in her voice.