Category Archives: Special Events

#Solo: best solo-related hashtags

Alumni responded with alacrity to a recent challenge to post their best solo-related hashtag (and win an original poem written during F’16 solo). Here are some of the best:










#MyBootsAreFrozen #MyKnotsAreFrozen #MyNalgeneIsFrozen






















New additions from F16 solo tales:














Find Your Way Back to Campus (or not) (S’15)

Each semester, students in Outdoor Program learn how to use a map and compass to orienteer. The final project is to be dropped off in a random spot a couple of miles from campus and to…Find Your Way Back to Campus. It’s an epic journey. There are even two different songs written about it. As always, the Spring 2015 students experienced to success to varying degrees… but everyone made it back eventually. Here are five different accounts of this semester’s FYWBTC extravaganza.

“Honestly, I was dreading it a little. I don’t have much faith in my orienteering skills… but I ended up having fun! We were the first group back. We got dropped off, and we immediately found where we were because we were on a road next to a field. Well, to be fair, I didn’t figure out where we were. I was distracted looking at the field. We aren’t allowed to walk on the roads, so we set off over some hills. I fell multiple times. J.C. and I nobly brought up the rear to watch for danger (that’s why we were in the back, not other reasons). We wandered in the woods and maybe on someone else’s property, but we didn’t really have a choice. And there was an American flag… that was weird. Then we made our way up several hills. We took a water break on top of a hill. We stumbled around for awhile, took a bearing, and then we realized we could see Liana’s sauna from the top of the hill. We got really excited. We sat down to eat some cookies. I was excited for chocolate chip cookies, but they were raisins. J.C. was excited – raisins are one of the few things he’ll eat, apparently. Everyone else was just quietly sad about it… I took out the raisins and buried them in the snow. Then we realized we had lost Robby and Lindsay because Robby’s snowshoe broke and we forgot to look back, so we kindly went back from them. Robby was kind of limping through the snow without snowshoes and got stuck. I stayed behind with him because I was loyal. We were not going to take the road, but then there were like 50 signs saying, “No trespassing,” and we were scared that someone would run out and yell at us. So we took the road for the last part of the walk. We saw the silo in the distance; it was like a lighthouse, except it was a silo. It was so exciting. We ran up the hill, so muddy and so happy. We were the first group back. Then we all went and had Sloppy Joe’s for lunch.”

5 word summary: Big damn hill. Raisins. Victory!


“My group brought back a dog by accident… The dog found us at the road. We thought throwing snowballs at it would make it go away, which did not work out, at all. It was funny because we were told explicitly not to bring back a dog. In his intro speech, Bruce was like, be safe, don’t walk on the roads, and DON’T BRING BACK A DOG. But it just followed us, and at first we were like, ‘Ha ha, we’re bringing a dog!’ When we found our way onto the Hemenway Tract and the dog was still there, we were like, ‘Oh…’ It followed us into Bruce’s office. We walked in and said, “Hey! We’re back!” and this little brown dog came in with us and we said, ‘We brought you a dog!’ Bruce was not that happy but not that mad either. It kind of led us home, though. Can’t really tell. Who rescued whom, man? That’s the question. The other highlight was that we stopped to eat cookies on a hill looking out over a field, and then we slid down the hill on our butts in the snow. There was a fence at the bottom and we all fell, but it was so fun.”


“My group thought we were in three different places, so we decided to walk down the road. If we hit a field, we’d know where we were. We walked down the road, and we hit a field, but we were still skeptical, so we kept walking until we saw a farm. It was Liana’s farm! Then we knew where we were. We took a bearing, but we didn’t really trust it, so we were walking through the woods like, ‘Let’s go a little to the right, now a little to the left.’ Then we found a path and followed it for awhile. We kind of followed our intuition, which sounds dumb, but it worked. We made it back by noon. Our motto was, ‘A little to the right!’ We got onto the Inner Loop across Brown Road, and we were so excited, we all kissed the ground. We almost thought we were in a totally different place and walked totally the wrong distance. That would have taken a lot longer…”


“It started out well. We cut through someone’s property – this cow field – and got to a point where we saw we would have to climb a mountain. Christina’s foot got stuck under a fallen log under the snow. Carmen had to dig her out. And this was when we had JUST started. On flat ground. So we were sitting there trying to figure out how to go over the mountain. There was this other group behind us, and then trudged pas and went straight up it. But we were thinking, there’s NO way we can do that. There were these two huge mountains. We were supposed to go up the one on the right, but we decided to go in the space between them instead, which was still steep but we could do it. We start climbing, we stop for a cookie break. Everything is going well, we’re following our bearing – until we hit Back Brook. When we hit Back Brook, we abandoned our bearing and ran to the stream. Then we realized we had no idea which way to go, so we followed it in one direction for awhile, then realized we were totally lost. We had absolutely no idea where we were. One person got really giddy, another really stressed, another angry. I started hyper-ventilating. It was kind of interesting to see all our different coping mechanisms.

I led everyone in a breathing exercise to calm us down – breathe in for four, hold for four, out for four. Then we started blowing our whistles. We thought maybe if we stayed in one place, they’d find us. We thought that for like ten seconds, then realized that was a terrible idea. We decided the best thing we could do was get to a road, so we decided to follow our tracks BACK over the mountain to the road. As we were doing that, we saw dog pee, and started screaming because dog pee means a dog which means a house which means civilization! So we followed the dog pee and dog prints along the river, and then we saw the abandoned trailer on the edge of the Mountain School property. In any other situation, that would have been SO creepy, but we recognized it, so we were really excited because at that point we knew where we were.

We followed Back Brook all the way to Hemlock Point, and then we had to walk up the slide below Hemlock Point, which was a big struggle. I mean, it’s basically vertical, so that was really difficult. But we had to do it. My asthma pump was not really working, and I thought I was going to faint. We got up to the top of the slide finally and all paused to collapse for awhile and breathe. By then, we knew exactly where we were on the Inner Loop, so we ate more cookies and then walked back. We were out for FOUR hours. When we got back, Pat made me drink three cups of orange juice in a row because I needed sugar. I wanted to vomit…”

Advice: NEVER leave your bearing ever, even if you see something. And breathe.


“I put my head down so I wouldn’t see where we were going. When we got to our spot, we were on a road going East to West with a pond and a turn, so we looked at the map, and I spotted it! I thought, ‘Wait, this can’t be right. I can’t have figured it out.’ But I showed it to the rest of the group, and everyone else agreed. I was really happy that I figured it out! Half the group wanted to go through the woods, on someone’s property, and the other half wanted to go on the roads until we reached woods that didn’t have no trespassing sign, but we decided to go through the woods. It was hard! We went up this hill to a clearing at the top. It was so nice. We stopped to take a break and take a new bearing. I was leading. The snow was up to my KNEES. I fell like ten times. Esme fell and said, ‘I need your help!’ and I said, ‘If I help you, I’m coming down with you!’ We reached an area that was posted, but we decided to go through it, and we ended up on Liana’s farm. Then we knew where we were. Everywhere we looked we saw no trespassing signs. We had never encountered that before on our practice rounds, and it made us nervous. We took a vote and decided to walk on the road. It was really nice because I got close to some people I hadn’t really talked to before. We all told stories and talked about spring break. We got back at 11:40. Bruce said, ‘Congratulations, you’re the first group back!’ I felt so accomplished.

Advice: I really enjoyed the group. Communication is key. Talk with your group and open up conversations. It makes the atmosphere more comfortable.


Thanks ZG, RM, EZM, JCP and SS for interviewing!

A Visit from Bill McKibben (F’14)

We were incredibly lucky to have Bill McKibben visit us last week at the Mountain School to talk about the climate change movement pre- and post- People’s Climate March. He showed us a number of pictures of climate protests from around the globe and shared his views on what type of action is necessary to make a real difference. A few words from his talk that stood out to me:

-2014 was the hottest year on record.

-Each degree that the temperature rises reduces global grain yield by 10%. This century we are predicted to raise the temperature 4 to 5 degrees. That’s a 40-50% reduction in grain yield. is currently engaged in a divestment campaign, particularly aimed at colleges and universities, as a way to politically bankrupt fossil fuel companies, similar to the strategy used against South Africa during the apartheid era. Bill McKibben urged all the students in the audience to ask about divestment as they tour and apply to colleges in the next year. College graduates can (should) also write to their alma maters urging divestment.

Divestment rally at UNH

-Our actions affect the poorest populations, but not the other way around, and they can’t do anything to stop climate change – but we might be able to.

Be an unbelievably engaged citizen. It’s one of the best things you can do.

Perhaps his most powerful words were those with which he closed: “Money tends to dominate in our political system, and if left unchecked, it almost always wins. But, every now and then, there’s a movement that is powerful enough to stand up to the money.” Climate change needs a movement that will stand up to the money.

mckibben4 (2)
Part of a climate change demonstration in India


Here are some students’ responses to Bill McKibben’s talk:

“The pictures were valuable because they allowed us to visualize the global impact. At the same time, we were presented with a huge issue and isolated incidents where people came together. I’m not sure if there is a hopeful solution. One thing that stood out to me was when he talked about the Keystone Pipeline and how that wasn’t an issue at all until make it publicized. That made me want to know how I can find out about those things without an organization like making them famous. And it made me wonder, what else has been passed because no one knows about it?” -A

San Francisco protest against the Keystone XL pipeline

“It was cool to see pictures of non-white people demonstrating for climate change. For example, there was a picture of these kids standing in a street in Haiti holding signs that said, ‘climate change affects me.’ It was a good reminder that even the people not causing climate change need it to change.” -I

“I loved him. It was so great to see all the pictures, but he was also a little defeatist in the sense that he kept repeating it will be a miracle if we can slow things down. On the one hand, that was pressing the importance of acting now, but it also almost felt like why bother trying? So that was one thing that I wondered about.” -O

Pacific Climate Warriors

“I was surprised that he wasn’t more into individual actions – like driving hybrid cars or eating different food – because I figured he would be, but I love the work he’s done involving non-typical environmentalists.” -M

“I left with such a great feeling of respect. He didn’t promote himself, he didn’t lecture us on climate change, he just explained what he did. It also reflects a lot about Mountain School to get him here, to have him connected to the school. In many ways, I felt like he embodied the Mountain School – he was so poised, well-spoken, sincere, and inspiring.” -B

Pacific Climate Warriors and allies block coal ships from entering Newcastle harbor, the world’s largest coal port

“I appreciated that the optimistic side of his presentation was about education, valuing us and our ability to make change. He was essentially saying, you are valid citizens even though you are 16.” -E

“He just knew the facts; they were completely internalized.  He knows what he’s talking about, so I trusted him a lot. Remember when I asked him for recommendations about how to stay informed, and he suggested this website called Grist? I went and looked at it last night, and it’s really cool: it has a lot of good information and the layout is really engaging. He riled me up in a positive way, especially with his talk about the divestment movement and that focus because it’s so applicable at this point in my life as I’m about to enter the college process. It was inspiring to see someone who cares and is taking action, and the images of all the people who are inspired. It shows that something is potentially being done.” -A

Fighting, not drowning


We were very fortunate to have such an opportunity. Thank you, Bill McKibben!


(Photos from, Huff Post and Green Peace).


Dear Dairy: S’14 Visits Dairy Farms

“So do you, like, milk cows there?” is probably the most common and inaccurate question that Mountain School students are asked by friends at home.

No, we don’t. Please stop asking.

Yes, we are on a farm. And we do have cows, but we eat them. Well, some of us do (shout out to vegetarians!). Regardless, learning about food production, including dairy, is central to the Mountain School curriculum, so even though we don’t have our own dairy cows, every semester we take field trips to several dairy farms in the area. (This is 25% because we want to learn about dairy production and 75% because we want to buy ice cream and chocolate milk).

Here are some photos of our recent visit to Hatchland Farms. Thanks to Rena for sharing her photos!

Prompt: “Look like a cow”
Prompt: “Look excited!” (nice job, Cedar)
Calves in their “hutches”
“As he was valiant, I honor him; but, as he was ambitious, I slew him.” -William Shakespeare, explaining why we eat meat
“Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.” -William Shakespeare, upon observing this interaction


“How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes!” -William Shakespeare, speaking on behalf of dairy cows everywhere
“I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it.” -William Shakespeare describing Hatchland Dairy Farm
Milking center
Milking center
Pasteurizing vats
Best day of Ben Y.’s life
“Yet I do fear thy nature; it is too full o’ the milk of human kindness.” -William Shakespeare, when faced with Kate’s excessive milk bottle predicament
“Chocolate milk! My kingdom for a chocolate milk!” -King Richard III (a well known fan of Hatchland Farms’ chocolate milk)
“O that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that bottle of chocolate milk.” -Romeo (also a huge fan of Hatchland Farm’s chocolate milk)


Questionable clothing swap
“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” -William Shakespeare, describing Rena and Elyse
“Men of few words are the best men.” -William Shakespeare
“True nobility is exempt from fear.” -William Shakespeare


“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, rounded with a little sleep.” -William Shakespeare, describing his favorite dorm, Tobold
Dancing Dewees


“Love sought is good, but giv’n unsought is better.” -William Shakespeare
“Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under ‘t.” -William Shakespeare, giving away Elyse’s secret
“This above all: to thine own self, be true.” -William Shakespeare, giving advice to Dan Lee
Wicked good
Afterwards, some hardcore mud soccer to celebrate one of the first days we could wear shorts without fear of frostbite

Find Your Way Back to Campus (F’13)

Overview: Find your Way Back is one of the key experiences in the Mountain School outdoor program. In small groups, students get into a van, blindfold themselves, and are driven somewhere about 30 minutes away from campus. They are dropped off with a map, compass, backpack and water. Their task is to figure out where they are based on their surroundings, and find their way back to campus by orienteering.

The project: I asked some students to share with me about their experiences during FYWB. These are their adventures, in their own words…

We had a really far place. It was a lot of walking through really muddy mud – a good half mile probably. Liz’s foot went full into the mud at one point. We walked about two and a half miles, and then we had to hike Patterson Mountain. We didn’t see any land marks to show we were really on track once we past the bog. We were wondering, are we going the right direction? Then we got a little way down Patterson Mountain, we saw Garden Hill. We started SCREAMING and ran a good half mile to school. We saw the neighbors with llamas. They came out and said hi to us. We got back half way through lunch. OK – so we cheated a little – we looked at the map on the way to our drop off spot, but we were happy we did. We had a bunch of candy – sour patch kids and Swedish fish. We ate and walked and talked and looked at the compass. Every now and then someone would say, are we off course? But it ended up working out. Ohh – and we had one bar of cell phone service on Patterson! I tried to call my mom, but the signal was too weak. (Sigh). My advice? Wear good shoes and bring a lot of water. And trust the compass.

– Jacob R. from VA, F’13