As a senior, the start of the fall semester was also the start of the countdown to my last Mountain Day. Every year, the anticipation and conversation surrounding Mountain Day becomes a staple at every lunch and dinner table in the Dining Commons. One person wants Monday off so they don’t need to worry about homework that’s due, another doesn’t want it on Monday because they don’t want to miss a work shift. Each day is filled with excitement and nervous mornings as October approaches. For seniors the anticipation is bittersweet, as we realize that our “lasts” at Mount Holyoke are about to begin.
For me and my friends, it was important to create a plan of action for the anticipated day. To us, Mountain Day was not just a day to hike up a mountain, but a day to spend time together as a group with our own added traditions. Starting October first, alarms were set for 6:55 every morning so we wouldn’t miss the tolls of the bell, and whoever heard the bells first was supposed to send a text through on our group chat.
Then began the most exciting day of the fall semester. We went back to bed and slept in until 9 a.m. and then walked to the Dining Commons for a breakfast of Mount Holyoke sandwiches. Even though we were spread across the campus, the electricity in the air was palpable as the whole campus seemed to be connected with an excited energy.
After breakfast and a much-needed cup of coffee, we made our way to stand in line at the Blanchard bus stop. Sharing memories with fellow seniors of our first Mountain Day three years ago made me realize that this was a moment we share with the many alumnae who stood in the same line in years past. Seeing underclassmen and first years standing in line alongside us was just a further reminder of this experience that connects Mount Holyoke students and alums across decades.
The drive to the mountain was a familiar one, but for some reason this drive felt different. As the bus reached our destination at the base of the mountain, my friends and I looked at each other and knew that we were ready for our last hike as Mount Holyoke students. Somehow, as we began the hike, our little group transformed into a bigger crowd as many other seniors joined us.
My friends — many of whom are more like sisters — and I hiked the trail and reached the top with the same sense of triumph that I know we will feel on May 19th as we walk across the stage to get our diplomas. Mountain Day is a tradition that embodies everything Mount Holyoke stands for and, for every senior who does this hike year after year, it is a lasting reminder of the many values that bind us across generations.