When the bells of Mary Lyon Hall rang a prolonged peal at 7 am, it was foggy and chilly on campus. A few early risers may have wondered why President Lynn Pasquerella chose Tuesday, October 1, as Mountain Day. But by 9 am, her reasoning and the weather were both clear.
Warm sun and a cool breeze greeted the first groups of students on the mountain. A few ran up the slope; more took the leafy trail, but most walked up the road. Two curves in the steep trail before the top of Mount Holyoke, the cheers and whoops of the earliest students were already audible.
At the summit, the Pioneer Valley stretched out below, clad in its early autumn glory. The Summit House is still under construction, so students swarmed over the rocks and snapped cell phone photos to capture the moment. President Pasquerella posed with students practically nonstop.
“Mountain Day is amazing, glorious,” said Olivia Williams ’17. “Traditions like this are why I came to a small liberal-arts college.”
Madeline Ketley, also a first-year, said she felt “lucky to be at a college where it’s so beautiful instead of stuck in a city.” And Hannah Feinman ’17 admitted to “getting a little too excited about Mountain Day” earlier in the morning—she ran through her dorm screaming with excitement.
It was senior Sarah Neumeyer’s first time up the mountain, but she had a good excuse: as an exchange student from Germany, this was her first chance.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to see much of New England yet,” she said. “I’m surprised at how much forest and open space there is. It’s beautiful.”
All morning, sweatshirt-clad students trekked up the slope to see the view, enjoy ice cream, and receive the Mountain Day caps provided by the Alumnae Association. Latecomers met waves of earlier hikers heading downhill, now stripped to T-shirts. Fittingly, some shirts bore the never fear / change slogan “Find It. Face it. Embrace it.” This Mountain Day, hundreds did just that.