White Dot up, White Cross down – the Grand Monadnock Climb tradition

Sep 11, 2018

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President Mooney Speaks

Franklin Pierce students, faculty and staff go about their days on the Rindge campus with all the colors and moods of Mount Monadnock looming in view. On Sunday, September 9, over 160 intrepid Pierce hikers scaled the mountain for the annual Grand Monadnock Climb, an enduring tradition to mark the start of the fall semester. From the top of the 3,000-foot peak, students have a stunning view of the entire Rindge campus and the surrounding towns and natural landmarks that provide a backdrop to their education in the Monadnock region.

“Mount Monadnock is such an iconic natural landmark in our region, and the yearly event to ascend to the top of the mountain together is an important part of our student experience,” says Kim Mooney, president of Franklin Pierce, who has taken part in the fall hike over the years. She first climbed Mount Monadnock decades ago as a student at Franklin Pierce.

Mount Monadnock continues to lure Ravens to the peak even beyond their years as university students. Rocky the Raven, the Franklin Pierce mascot, perched at the summit for snapshots and high-fives with all who made it to the top. And a Franklin Pierce alum from the Class of 2013 was spotted along the trail!

The university’s Director of Recreation Doug Carty organizes the hike and has learned to expect and prepare for the unexpected. Carrying emergency supplies and extra snacks, he makes his way up the White Dot trail, checking in with groups of hikers, assessing their progress and reminding them to enjoy the journey at their own pace.

“I always tell the students it’s not about the summit – it’s about a great day together building community,” says Carty. “They can turn around at any time, and a shuttle will be waiting to take to take them back to campus.” This year one hiker turned an ankle on the trail. With assistance from Carty, state park staff and fellow students, she made it back down the White Cross trail, slowly but under her own steam, still cheerful when boarding the last shuttle back to campus after dark.

Felicia Walalis ’21 made the climb for the second time this year. “Last year I rushed up the trail with my friends to get to the top, but this year I took my time. It was a great experience because I was able to meet new people - including teachers - and I love seeing them around campus now. It’s a great way to make new friends!”

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