As sweet as any Homecoming victory at Beaver Stadium may be, even sweeter for many students, alumni, and friends is a Penn State Homecoming hike on Mount Nittany.
Penn State Homecoming, in its own words, exists to “celebrate tradition and instill pride in all members of the Penn State family through active engagement of students, alumni, faculty and staff across the community.” Tens of thousands of Penn Staters and friends return to Happy Valley for Homecoming, and hundreds make the special journey into Lemont and up to the Mount Nittany Trailhead, either to the Mike Lynch Overlook or to Mount Nittany’s other overlooks across its miles of trails.
The journey to Happy Valley for Homecoming is a special tradition in itself, as one recalls the highs and lows of days gone by, but the journey from Penn State’s crimson-hued campus to the top of the Mountain stirs in the heart not only the memories of the past but a clarity and recognition of the sweetness of our presently-unfolding lives. Our loyalty to Penn State, and our love for Mount Nittany, bear witness to a deeper reality: as a people who share common loves, we also share a common future.
We see this most obviously in our natural families. I visited town not only for Penn State Homecoming, and not only for a meeting of the board of the Mount Nittany Conservancy, but also to visit my brother who is navigating his sophomore year. Catching up over a meal at the Tavern, and later making the saunter up Mount Nittany, provided for true “homecoming” together.