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Keene State College Students Take a Hike

On the summit of Mt. Monadnock
On the summit of Mt. Monadnock

Webster Massingham couldn’t resist the temptation to take Dr. Brian Green’s ISP sociology class entitled A Walk on the Wild Side this semester. “I’m a computer science major, and I spend a lot of time indoors at a desk,” said the senior from Dover, NH. “I always liked hiking and being outdoors, and I needed the credit, so this was a way to kill two birds with one stone.”

But this class was no walk in the park. In addition to reading from a book list that included Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, the class also held true to the expression, “If you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk,” by venturing out earlier this month on a three-day, 22-mile hike on the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway, from Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey to Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard.

Massingham was one of 17 students who completed the expedition that included overnights in shelters along the trail. Since sign-up was essentially by word of mouth, the class attracted students from diverse majors and varying degrees of ability. Strangers at the start, the students became a close-knit family, helping and caring for each other’s well-being.

The idea for the course originated a few years ago when Dr. Green was teaching a class that explored the evolution of society and technology. Further discussion led to the two-credit course, where students would have the opportunity to spend some time in the nearby wilderness without the technology that has become so prevalent in today’s society.

“I learned a lot about myself and my ability to do things,” said Emily Rose Boussard, a senior American studies major from Milford, NH. “Even though I was the slowest one on the trip, it really didn’t matter because I still finished.”

Mark Oosterman, a senior American Studies major from New Ipswich, NH, who lost his sight five years ago, didn’t let his disability prevent him from going on the trip. Helped by his girlfriend Amanda Hayford, a 2014 KSC grad, the pair was able to navigate the tough terrain. “It was hard. There were a lot of sweat and tears and a lot of communication,” said Hayford. “It was a very rewarding experience, and I’m so proud of us.”

Emotionally moved by the experience, several students encouraged Dr. Green to offer the course again. “I wish I could do it every day,” said Hannah Soucy, a junior studio art major from Milford, NH. “I had never felt the sensation and drive to keep moving forward.”

“I didn’t want to leave the mountain,” said Emily Mathieu from Albany, NH, who is also majoring in studio art. “It’s something that definitely needs to happen again. I think it’s going to keep us connected in a special way and will be an experience we won’t soon forget.”

In fact the students were so moved by the course that they started a blog about it.