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Currents: my mountain day 2010

Getting to the Top One Fun Step at a Time

by Lisa Stanulonis '13

Of all the traditions that Colby-Sawyer College celebrates, Mountain Day is among the most popular with us students. No one knows for certain when this tradition began, but it wasn't long after Colby Academy – the secondary school that evolved into this college – opened in 1837. Photographs from the late 19th century depict the women wearing long skirts and in the men in suits and hats, making the trip to the base of the mountain in horse-drawn carriages.

Can one even imagine in 1893 there were only 40 students who gathered for the annual trek up Mt. Kearsarge? Time has changed Mountain Day for the better, and it is a tradition I love dearly. My experiences on Mt. Kearsarge are among my fondest memories here at Colby-Sawyer College.

Much of the early excitment about Mountain Day comes from trying to figure out when it will occur, for President Galligan, and all the college leaders before him, keeps the date top secret. Regardless, when the rumors finally prove true, and at 10:05 a.m. the glorious Mountain Day bell sounds, I couldn't be happier.

What does that 10:05 bell mean for students? It means enjoying sunshine and whole-hearted laughter as a refreshing break from the first few weeks of school. It means escaping the classes scheduled for the day. It means dye-covered hands for the next week or so after creating a cool Mountain Day T-shirt. It means a lot more than the assorted goodies offered at the cook-out held at the base of the mountain. It is about getting to the top, but also the journey experienced along the way.

My Mountain Day journey starts the second I find myself sprinting across campus, screaming and cheering with the rest of the students as the bell rings, overjoyed that today is the day. I grab my hiking gear, find my friends, and board the bus for the short ride to the mountain.

At Winslow State Park, near the base of Mt. Kearsage, I frantically wait in line to grab my shirt. At this point I care about two things: trying to make a rad-looking tie-dye and beginning the race to the top. It seems my tie-dying experience is more about covering my hands and feet in dye rather than my shirt, but that's okay – it reminds me of Mountain Day long after it has passed.

As for hiking the mile up to the summit: it is a rigorous adventure that drains the energy from me, but it's where the fun really begins. This year, equipped with music and tiny speakers, I boogied my way up the mountain. With Lady Gaga, Eminem, Katy Perry and other artists blasting, my group of friends was christened the "Party Train" by those who followed us up the mountain.

Through numerous snack and water breaks, I kept the music going, cheering people on as I danced along to songs like "Party in the USA." I am proud to say I got some people singing and dancing up the mountain, which made the trek up a bit more fun.

To reach the summit of Mt. Kearsarge means one thing: jumping pictures, the generic but awesome way to show you made it to the top. You look pretty silly, and I have no clue how many pictures were actually taken – but I know the goofy faces I made will show up on Facebook to remind me of the day's adventure.

As a freshman last year, I could not have guessed I would ever have such wonderful stories about Mountain Day. I was new to the school, barely had friends at that point, and knew little of the people around me. To say the least, I was not a happy camper. Things have changed, and I know my experience on Mountain Day will only get even better as time progresses.

And as time goes by, I know the Mountain Day tradition will continue to change as well. This year, Students for a Greener Campus and Sodexo Dining Services teamed up to offer a "zero waste" Mountain Day - plates, forks and napkins were plant-based, making them, along with any uneaten food, compostible.

A recycling center was also set up at the base of the mountain. With a no-waste goal as a new part of Mountain Day, students can not only enjoy the outdoors, they will also help preserve beautiful Mt. Kearsarge and the college's favorite old Mountain Day tradition for all future students.

Lisa Stanulonis is an Exercise and Sport Science major and a student writer for College Communications.