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God’s Land My name is Matthew Weidman, and I have walked the trails of God’s land. If you wonder where that is, look no further than Philmont Scout Ranch. God graced this world with nature’s beauty at creation, but he took special care with those mountains in New Mexico. The two weeks I spent amongst the pines, both the green and the gray, changed me. It was not necessarily an immediate change though. I grew more appreciative of God’s grace there, but it wasn’t until recently that the lessons I learned in that majestic wilderness went so far to calm my formerly angry soul significantly. One’s first impression of Philmont is of its inherent dustiness. The dust is so present that it is known as “Philmont Seasoning”. After three days, I was so covered in dust that I seemed to have a tan. If you were like me, then you would assume the wilderness of that part of New Mexico, like much of the rest of it, would be a desert. If you were like me then your reaction would be one of astonishment. You would enter Base Camp, getting the feeling that it is indeed a desert. That feeling is shattered once you look beyond. You will then see the green mountains and, once you get closer you will see fields of neverending green and brown. In fact, if you go up Mt. Baldy, you will see the grassy area from the famous movie “Gone With the Wind”. Once I started the hike, I proceeded to get the song “Livin’ on a Prayer” stuck in my head. I also proceeded to sing it very loudly over the next two weeks. The second day of the hike was hell. It was the hottest day as we walked through the Scorched Land. That night, we reached the Valle Vidal, which ironically means “Valley of Life”. The irony comes from the fact that this place drained the life out of my crew and I. The Valle is an untamed, unstoppable wilderness with no trails and no clean water spigots. If you want water in the Valle, you have to either purify it from a stream or find a great white water buffalo. They are brought to staff camps once a week on the back of a truck. My crew was in the Valle for six days. Next came Mt Baldy. The hike before the mountain was one of the most prolific. In the days proceeding, we experienced ‘Nam, The Switchbacks, and many other horrors. After I inspired my crew through many hardships, we arrived at Baldy Town. I proceeded to spend roughly twenty dollars on my addiction of Honey Stinger Energy Chews. Our sister crew had a bear show up in their campsite. The next day was Baldy. We left at 6:30 in the morning. We began to scale the mountain for over an hour before stopping for breakfast. Conner complained the whole way, the Old Man from the Greenwood crew did as well. Around 10:00, we reached the Gone With the Wind spot and slept. We then approached the Landslide. The Landslide is the shorter slope of Baldy, but it is considerably steeper and composed of loose dirt and gravel. The climb took my crew roughly an hour and a half. At long last, we reached the summit. The view was the best I have seen until this day, as most mountains just give you a view of the rest of the mountains. Mt. Baldy did not, from the summit we could see every trail we had hiked for the past week and every trail we would hike over the next week. The most memorable thing was a grove of trees forming a massive smiley face opposite the summit. We left the summit as its noon lightning storm came in. Over the next week, we obtained burros, wanted to slaughter our burros, and cried when we surrendered our burros. We hiked twelve miles down a straight dirt road and got covered in dust. Those were the most memorable two weeks in my life. I laughed with my friends and I groaned with my friends. Most importantly, I triumphed alongside my friends. The best part of it all is that I will get to do it again.

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