While attending college offers ample challenges to be tackled by incoming students, there are various opportunities for personal growth that come simply based on the location of your school. 

As Keene State College students, we are granted the privilege of living just a short car ride away from the most hiked mountain in America — Mount Monadnock.

According to monadnockmountain.com it is estimated that Monadnock draws in as many as 120,000 hikers a year.

I think that every student at KSC would benefit largely from the experience of hiking Monadnock. I encourage any person with the opportunity to do so, to add themselves to that statistic.

There are few feelings as satisfying as earning the right to scream out from the peak overlooking a beautiful horizon, “I am king of the mountain!”

The official definition of “monadnock” reads, “an isolated hill or ridge of erosion-resistant rock rising above a peneplain,” according to seadict.com.

This means that Monadnock is named specifically for its individuality as a peak rising above the miles of flatter terrain surrounding it. It also means that when we call it “Mount Monadnock” we are in a way naming it, “Mountain Isolated Mountain.” It is just funny how names come about sometimes.

According to monadnockmountain.com, the highest point of Monadnock reaches “3,165 feet above sea level, even though the summit itself has 3,166 feet engraved into it.” Accomplishing a hike to that altitude is certainly worthy of any person’s bucket list.

While I hiked Mount Monadnock for my first time, my knees grew sore and I watched beads of sweat drip from my forehead down onto the path before me. I continued anyhow, realizing every ounce of sweat and bit of pain made me stronger.

As I climbed the daunting boulders and shook with fear of slipping on my way down the White Cross path, I continued to recall the fortune-teller from the movie Holes.

In the movie, Madame Zeroni instructs Stanley Yelnats to climb a mountain each day, carrying with him a piglet.

Each day as he climbs the mountain, the pig gets fatter and he gets stronger.

I imagine the simple beauty behind her advice. I imagine the benefit of taking action to try and try again, slowly building up to an ultimate goal.

I believe that any person who hikes to the top of Mount Monadnock receives a sensation of irrevocable accomplishment that can only prove their ability to conquer any mountain.

On my first trip up the mountain this past weekend I could not refrain from asking a man wearing just shorts and sneakers how long it took him to climb the mountain.

His reply amazed me, “35 minutes.” According to monadnockmountain.com “Monadnock is famous for attracting ‘power hikers.’”

The website specifically recognizes Larry Davis, who holds the record of climbing Monadnock for 2,850 consecutive days without missing a day. That is nearly eight years!

Also, Fran Rautiola climbed Monadnock 14 times in a 24-hour period before losing the record to Gary Harrington who climbed it 16 times in 24 hours.

Passing many hikers who had already reached the peak on my way up, I sometimes said, “Hello,” and other times I would try to humor them with one-liners such as, “Who needs a StairMaster?”

At times I said things I now realize are simply ironic such as, “I feel like I just walked into a painting,” and “I feel as though I am in a movie.”

These instances demonstrate how disconnected our generation is from nature. Despite the fact that I am overall down to Earth and in-tune with the world around me, as a young person constantly face-to-face with a screen, somehow I blipped and compared a real-life nature scene to a screen that is unable to recreate such an experience.

To demonstrate further what I mean by the generational naïveté, I will share part of my climb.

As we approached about halfway, I suddenly recognized a familiar face. It was my roommate! What a day, to climb a mountain and bump into my roomie.

As she told us that her and her boyfriend had already reached the top, she began rummaging for her phone. She pulled it out and said, “Hold on, I gotta show you.”

In disbelief I asked, “Are you about to show me a photo of the view from the top of the mountain I am currently hiking?” She proceeded to do exactly that.

Unfortunately, it is my belief that many students in my class and future classes lack a desire to explore the wonders of nature encompassing Keene.

I find that students lack the motivation to get up and adventure, as students must have before they had Internet to consume their time.

Climbing a mountain requires self-determination and self-motivation. The hike can take many turns and present a multitude of challenges that then push the hiker to grow. The benefits of hiking Monadnock are uncountable.

If you have not done so already, hike Monadnock before the leaves officially fall and the snow begins. The sight of overlooking miles of glorious changing foliage is indescribable and it is a view you are going to want to see for yourself. Students at Keene State College not only should, but also deserve to treat themselves, to the joy of officially climbing Monadnock. Good luck hikers!


Arline Votruba can be contacted at avotruba@keene-equinox.com

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