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My last Mountain Day

No one ever thinks they want to be woken up by airhorns at 4 am, but trust me, you do.

Mountain Day is one of those glorious Juniata traditions where I never really feel like I can truly explain it to someone.

“Well, on a surprise day every year, all of our classes/responsibilities are cancelled. They wake us up at the crack of dawn to tell us that (usually with airhorns and loud yelling), and then once we all do get up, we pile into cars and go out to the lake for an entire day.

I’m usually met with a classic, “Do you even go to a real school?” The answer is yes, it’s just a great one.

Traditions within traditions! The annual Mountain Day tug-of-war.

Traditions within traditions! The annual Mountain Day tug-of-war. P.C. Candice Hersh

As a senior, this Mountain Day was bittersweet. While I was swimming and running and eating, I couldn’t help but have this little voice in the back of my head saying, “this is the last one.” However, that didn’t stop the festivities on what I believe to be is my best Mountain Day yet. The day was warm, the sun was shining (which seems to be a rarity this fall), and all of my friends were there. That’s definitely my favorite thing about Mountain Day – the fact that everyone can (and usually does) participate. Sure, we can plan lake days for ourselves, but usually someone has an essay or a test. On Mountain Day, we’re all free to race to the lake and spend the day in the sun without the worry of what is due tomorrow.

I returned home from Mountain Day sore, covered in lake water and sand, a little sunburnt (don’t tell my mom), and happy.

Posing for our yearly Mountain Day picture!

Posing for our yearly Mountain Day picture!

Who knows what my Mountain Day will bring next year. Maybe I’ll be teaching kids about watersheds. Maybe I’ll be writing for a journal. Maybe I’ll be in grad school. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find the time to escape down to a lake for the day. Whatever it brings and wherever I am, I’ll always have Mountain Day with me. It’s a Juniata tradition for life.

From Inboundee to Inbound Leader

This year I had the honor of being an Inbound leader for the incoming first year students. I signed up to be a hiking leader – I don’t know why. I am not a hiker and I have no idea what was going through my brain when I filled out the application, but I was determined to make the most of it.

The Inbound leaders of my group last year were fabulous. They were relatable and basically the spirit guides of my first week at Juniata. I wanted to be like them for my group of Inboundees.

We hiked several different trails, and I went through like a bottle and a half of bug spray, but it was worth it. On one of our hikes, an Inboundee licked a slug against our recommendation. Turns out, when you lick certain slugs, the bottom of a slug it makes your tongue go numb. It was quite the week of learning.

My 19th birthday happened to be on the second day of Inbound, and we had a mini birthday celebration at the lake. We stuck candles in Rice Krispy treats and wore birthday hats and tiaras while we kayaked. It was the first-time kayaking for some of our Inboundees, and it was really cool to share this experience with them.

Me and my Inboundees at the bottom of 1000 Steps.

Me and my Inboundees at the bottom of 1000 Steps.

We hiked 1000 steps (the name is a lie by the way – it is more than 1000 steps), and I barely made it up. At every break in the stairs, the group would all take a break and turn around to watch me drag myself up the steps about 100 feet behind them. Around step 300 I waved them ahead with the other group leader and stopped for a break. I decided I couldn’t handle anymore hiking and told them I would meet them on their way down.

They sent me inspirational quotes and pictures of the view at the top to motivate me to keep going. I arrived about 20 minutes later than everyone else but I made it. They all applauded me when I arrived at the top of the lookout and immediately collapsed on the ground in a heap, gasping for breath. After I got over the fact that my legs were so tired it felt like they would never work again, I appreciated all of their motivation and support. I almost gave up, but I didn’t. It awoke a new determination within myself for the rest of our hiking adventures. I still always ended up bringing up the back of the group, but I wasn’t as far back as I was before.

The last day of Inbound got rained out, so we made tacos in one of the residence hall kitchens. I was low-key thankful to not be hiking another day, and eating tacos was a better bonding opportunity in my opinion.

We hiked, went kayaking, made tacos, played a lot of ice breakers, and made some pretty strong friendships. I’d say this Inbound was a success. I hope I was as good of an Inbound leader as mine were.

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