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Sunset Hike

A Report by Eleanor Cook ('13)

Mt. Sugarloaf, Sunderland, MA

View over the Connecticut River from the top of Mt Sugarloaf in Sunderland, MA.

The Sunset and Sunrise Hikes are a tradition at the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life.  This Saturday, despite the persistent and icy snow on the ground, a group of students led by Hayat Abuza, Multifaith Program Specialist, embarked for a Sunset Hike up Mount Sugarloaf in Sunderland.

The first steps of the hike

It may seem strange to undertake a mountain climb at a time of day when the descent will necessarily be in darkness.  But this choice of time is intentional. On the car ride to Sunderland, Hayat explained that people the world over have for centuries celebrated sunrise and sunset. There is a unique specialness to that in-between moment of transformation in nature that calls for introspection. It is a moment of spirituality that is accessible to everyone, regardless of their religion.
Our hike up the mountain was spent mainly in quiet, both from reflection as well as from the steep incline. When we reached the summit, we took some time exploring and observing our local landscape, suddenly made visible by the ascent.  
Hayat gave us a brief geological and agricultural history of the regional, pointing to summits of neighboring mountains, and the landscape dotted with long tobacco barns.

Hayat and Clara Rosebrock ’16


We took a few moments of silence listened to the rush of traffic below.  As the sky threatened darkness, we shared poems selected from Hayat’s collection. We started our descent under a dusky sky that thankfully provided just enough light to navigate the icy path.