Cider donuts, apple cider, casual hikes with friends — for most people, Mountain Day is a time for procrastinating on homework and enjoying the natural beauty of a Williamstown fall. However, for a certain group of students at the College, Mountain Day also brings sweat, exhaustion and sore legs.
Well, group may be an overstatement.
“There’s only two of us on campus,” said Jakin Miller ’24, a member of the men’s Nordic ski team. For over 10 years, the team has had a tradition of running 26 miles every Mountain Day. (The women’s team runs 19). This year, accompanied by a few brave friends, Miller and his teammate Jacob Jampel ‘23 ran up Pine Cobble, Stony Ledge and Mount Greylock, finishing the marathon by running laps around the College track.
In spite of their smaller-than-usual numbers, the skiers finished in just over five hours, fueled by the plentiful amounts of food brought along for the journey. While Miller almost ran out of energy at the top of Greylock, he was luckily rescued by a timely delivery. “One of the girls (Marika Massey-Bierman ‘22) on the team can’t run, so she biked up with donuts,” Miller said. “That saved the day.”
The Nordic ski team was not the only team on campus who made the trek up Mount Greylock. Club cycling has also been biking up the 3,491-foot peak on Mountain Day for as long as club captain Niku Darafshi ’21 can remember.
“The minute we learn that it’s Mountain Day, instead of going back to bed, we put on our bike shorts and every warm layer that we own,” Darafshi said. Usually, the team leaves bright and early at 7:30, getting back at around 11:30 to enjoy the rest of the day’s activities. This year, the team had 15 participants, some of whom were going up Mount Greylock for the first time. Due to the steep learning curve — both literal and figurative — Darafshi said that “mentally getting through it” can be a challenge, adding that biking down the mountain is “always really fun but also terrifying.”
Though the euphoria of reaching the top was obviously a highlight, the benefits continued even after the ride was over. “It’s also fun to get back to campus and brag to all your friends that you just biked up the tallest point in Massachusetts,” said Darafshi.
While the cycling team spent Mountain Day on two wheels, another group of students was enjoying the beautiful Friday on four legs. The equestrian team has a tradition of trail riding through the backroads of Williamstown on horseback, starting at Bonnie Lee Farm and ending up in Hopkins Forest.
“We can travel more distance on a horse in a shorter time…we get a little farther than you do just on a hike,” said Maddie Hurwitz ‘21, team captain. The team has been exploring the trails on Mountain Day even before Hurwitz was a first-year, with all 10 returning members joining in on the ride this year. “Riding is a socially distant sport,” Hurwitz added. “You can’t get too close or the horses will get mad at you.” As the days get colder and the trees go bare, athletes can look forward to the next Mountain Day to keep building their traditions.