Today, I walked to class without a winter jacket on and it was magical. The past couple of months have been chilly at the University of Massachusetts. Getting to class has meant gathering your will power, covering every inch of bare skin, and braving the cold wind. That's winter in Massachusetts and we all know what we signed up for. But we also know that the year keeps turning and that summer is never too far away. Walking to class today wearing just a sweater and enjoying the mild breeze got me thinking about the warm and beautiful walks and hikes that lie in store for us this summer. One of my favorites is the highest peak in the pioneer valley, Mt. Holyoke.
UMass Amherst is situated in the basin of the Pioneer Valley, a fertile valley through which the beautiful Connecticut River runs. All around us, high mountains reach towards the skies. When the sun sets, it turns the mountains pink and the sky yellow and orange. Going to school here, I am grateful for the beauty of my surroundings every day. Getting to hike these mountains high up into the sky and see the precious valley nestled below is always a blessing. That's why here at UMass Summer Programs, we love to take our students up to the top of Mt. Holyoke, where you can see all of UMass's campus, the Connecticut River, and the surrounding farmland and towns.
Most of us love beautiful views and being in nature, but not all of us are super-experienced hikers. That's why Mt. Holyoke is the perfect hike to do with all our programs, including Jump! for incoming undergraduates and our pre-college programs for high school students. Though Mt. Holyoke has a very high peak, it is accessible by road, so we can shorten the hike to suit the needs of our students. Up on top, there is the Mt. Holyoke Summit House, which has a big beautiful porch to relax on, a parking area, and plenty of taps with cold, fresh water.
The Mt. Holyoke Range formed over 200 million years ago when lava flowed throughout the valley and ultimately cooled and was upended. More recently, glaciers have smoothed the rough edges of the range, exposing bedrock, or depositing rocks and stones. We clearly have a lot to learn from the land and nature around us, so that is why we love to enlist The Hitchcock Center for the Environment to guide us through the woods. The Hitchcock center is a local environmental organization which educates children and adults about the natural world around them. Last summer, we hired representatives of the Hitchcock center to teach us about the formation of the land we were walking on and the rooted, winged, and squirmy living creatures that we share this land with. Not only did we get some exercise, we also learned a whole lot!
As things start blooming all around us, our summer plans are blooming into existence as well. I for one cannot wait to be hiking Mt. Holyoke with a group of students again! The summer gives us a chance to interact with our natural environment comfortably and beautifully. Here at UMass Summer Programs we are serious about our academics and preparing students for success, but we are also serious about taking in the natural beauty that surrounds us and learning all we can about it.
Are you an incoming UMass Undergraduate looking for something to do this summer and a way to get ahead? The Jump! program might just be for you! Click here to check it out:
If you are interested in our wide variety of summer pre-college programs for high school students, click here: