Around The Yard: Luke Mendola

Returning to for a third season, "Around The Yard: Life As A Harvard Student-Athlete" explores life away from the playing fields for select Harvard student-athletes through their own first-person narrativeFor a full list of blog entries, click here.

For more student blogs from Harvard Admissions, click here.

Luke Mendola
March 9, 2017

Earlier in the semester my friends and I had a great Sunday hiking Mount Chocorua in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. As most things that occur while being a busy student-athlete, the trip came together pretty last minute. This particular weekend we knew we had some extra free time and that we wanted to get off campus, as we sat around the dining hall contemplating, we figured it would be a great move to pack our bags and hit the trails. We are all pretty experienced hikers so we weren’t too concerned with the ins and outs. Really the only things that were certain was that we had a car to get where we wanted to go. Around 7 a.m. the next morning we all set our alarms, ate a hearty breakfast, and met at the Harvard Outing Club office. One of us suggested Chocorua because it wasn’t excessively far away and there was some great exposure at the top. We knew it was going to be a cold one but it wasn’t until we checked the weather at the top of the mountain that we knew we were in for a sick day. Fifty mile per hour winds, icy conditions, and -10 degrees awaited us. Immediately, we started digging around for micro spikes, crampons, and extra pairs of long johns. Around 8 a.m. we were ready to rock. After about two hours of driving/napping we stopped at a supermarket and packed all the sandwich ingredients we could fit into our backpacks. Finally after about 45 minutes more of back road driving we made it to the trailhead and up we went.

We are all pretty close friends and had a great time reminiscing on past hikes, singing songs (like the classic “moose song”), and playing trail games. About a third of the way up it started to get icy, we found a good resting spot, put on our micro spikes and a couple extra layers. Especially in a busy and intense environment like Harvard, it always feels so liberating and recharging to get off campus, especially if it’s to a place high up in the White Mountains. As we continued onward we found a spot just before the tree line broke to make lunch. As it always is on the trail, whatever you eat tastes like the best food in the world. To date, those three sandwiches are the best food I’ve had (until the next hike of course).

Once we crossed into the exposed part of the mountain, the weather changed drastically. From a crisp, early spring day to an absolute ice storm- just what we were hoping for. There’s just something about being completely at the will of mother nature. To be fully immersed and to have all your senses titillating, hands freezing, face burning, limited vision, and only the continuous whipping of the wind in your ears makes you feel ALIVE; it is therapeutic, it is cleansing. After spending about 30 minutes at the top, having fun running to and from every crevice we could find to get out of the wind for just a split second, we found our way back down the mountain. After reaching the car and shedding layers we drank the rest of our half frozen water and began the ride back to campus. With more singing, tune bumping, car games, and laughing we made it back to campus, ready to re-enter the Harvard world feeling invigorated and ready to conquer the next week.