Mountain Day reclaimed

Well, it’s October. That was fast. October means that temperatures will start to drop (as will, hopefully, the number of mosquitoes), that the leaves will continue to change and that fall will soon be upon us in full force. But at the College, we all know that October also means that Mountain Day is coming.

Last year was my first experience with Mountain Day. When it was explained to me, the message I took away went something like this: It’s a day off from classes, we all hike up a mountain and listen to a cappella groups sing while we eat donuts … It’s great. A year later, I see that nothing about this explanation is incorrect. These things happen, and they really are great. The musical groups are talented, the mountains are pretty and the cider and donuts are seriously delicious. But, to me, and I hope to many other members of the Williams community, Mountain Day means something more.

First of all, Mountain Day doesn’t start when we all get on the bus to Stony Ledge. It doesn’t start when the entire entry piles into their JAs five-passenger car to head up to Stone Hill. For me, Mountain Day starts when the bells ring early in the morning. I don’t want to give too much away, but first-years are woken up in an unorthodox fashion, and from there, the day is over too quickly. We are off of Stony Ledge and then back to campus and our commitments before we know it.

There’s no reason for this to be the case, and it flies in the face of everything Mountain Day stands for. The College forcibly clears your schedule. So why do we rush back to the daily grind? The singing ends and there is a stream of people anxiously hiking down the trail, getting ready for Friday night. If you’re up on Stony Ledge, why not stay there for a little while? It will be a beautiful day, because it has to be. Mountain Day is a time to turn off your phones, unplug your laptops, gather friends and go enjoy yourself.

Now, I don’t want this message to get people carried away. Safety is always an issue when thousands of people hike together. This year, in particular, will be interesting.  You might not have noticed, but Williamstown recently experienced a really big storm. A hurricane, you might call it. The trails are definitely not as clear as they have been in past years. So bring some boots. Good boots. Let’s call them hiking boots. Also, in the event that Mountain Day is this Friday (I know, right?  It could be in two days!), students will have the option to return to campus by 5p.m., out of respect for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and the epic meals that accompany the evening prior.

Our college is in the middle of the Berkshires, yet many people never get out into the mountains after WOOLF. That’s fine, we’re busy. But, do yourself a favor – slow down your life, make a real connection with friends and nature and take the whole day to appreciate the world around our college and the people that make it so special.


Jackson Scher ’14 is from Pleasantville, N.Y. He lives in Hubbell.

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