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With changing leaves, burning calves, smiling faces and gasping lungs, a group of Weber State University students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members climbed to the summit of Mount Ogden as one of the first activities for Homecoming Week.
The first-ever climb to Mount Ogden by WSU students happened decades ago. David O. McKay, former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was among the students who started the tradition. The traditional hike went on hiatus, was readopted in 1986 and, weather permitting, has happened every year since.
“It traditionally wasn’t associated with homecoming,” said Daniel Turner, coordinator for the Outdoor Program. “It used to be just a fall hike. Now we are trying to promote homecoming, and it’s a homecoming tradition. This is kind of a kickoff to homecoming, and it’s the first major event of the year that we offer.”
The hike is about four miles long and generally takes people two and a half to three hours. Campus Recreation also provides buses to shuttle students from WSU to Snowbasin, as well as guides up to the top.
“Really, this is just to promote getting outside and having a healthy, active lifestyle,” Turner said.
Once it has reached the top, the group sings the school’s fight song (“Weber State, Weber State, Great, Great, Great!”) and has a raffle of local restaurants’ gift cards and Campus Recreation gear.
“We get some local restaurants who donate gift cards and we just have some Campus Rec giveaways, and we just try to make it fun at the top,” said Teri Bladen, director of Campus Recreation.
Whether it’s the mountain air or meeting new people, everybody has their reasons for attending, said Brandon Long, a guide for the hike.
“My favorite part of the hike is actually meeting the other hikers once we get up there,” Long said. “Every year it’s a different group of people; even though there are some that return, we eventually have all new hikers. I like to meet them, get to know them, and it’s a fun challenge to get everyone up there.”
He also said people feel accomplished when they get to top.
“I think people’s favorite part is getting to the top of a mountain because it is conquering something,” Long said. “It’s an accomplishment, and not everybody does that very often.”
Bladen said Campus Recreation feels collaborating and getting involved with the student body and community is important to help promote active lifestyles.
“Our purpose at Campus Recreation is to provide opportunities that inspire engagement in healthy, active lifestyles,” Bladen said. “Getting the student body in all that we do is our main mission. Pulling all our teams together and working with the student government is so important to get the new generation of students in on homecoming traditions.”
Vice Provost Mike Vaughan said collaboration is also important to help create and maintain traditions.
“This is a nice tradition,” Vaughan said. “Student government was talking this year (about) how important it was to keep traditions on campus and how they wanted to start more traditions. The hike is one tradition that has been around for decades. It’s not only important to start new traditions, but to keep the older traditions going.”
Because it is an annual tradition, people like Vaughan have made the hike more than 15 times. Other people did it for the first time on Saturday.
WSU will continue Homecoming Week with the pep rally on Monday at The Junction, the dance on Friday and the football game on Saturday.