On March 17, I joined a group of twelve young men for what would be an adventure of epic proportions. All the participants were from our campus outreach, Tradition, Family Property Student Action, that brings the burning issues of the day to the university. Our goal this time was not to descend into academia but to ascend Mount Marcy, the highest peak in the Adirondack mountain range in New York. The special intention of the trek was to make reparation for the appalling late-term abortion law approved by Governor Cuomo on January 22. The hardships we endured on the 15-mile hike were akin to a pilgrimage, carried out as an act of reparation on behalf of our nation for the sin of abortion.
Our group hit the trail at 5:15 a. m. to give us enough time to reach the summit and return before sundown. It was still dark, so we used headlamps to light our way. The air was calm and steady snow was falling, forming a fresh layer of powder over the ice-chocked path and muffling our footsteps. In the darkness of those early morning hours, alone and far away from the noise and agitation of modern society, we suddenly found ourselves immersed in the wondrous stillness and serenity of God’s creation.
We quickly made our way through the woods and reached the base of the mountain by sunrise. The overcast sky parted somewhat to reveal a breathtaking view of the towering snow-capped peaks shrouded in mist. Placing our enterprise under the protection of Saint Michael the Archangel and Saint Patrick, we began the long climb.
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Step-by-step, we navigated the steep twists and turns, taking care not to accidentally fall into “tree wells,” those hollows around the base of snow-covered trees that can swallow up hikers. The panorama opened into ever more majestic scenes. Everywhere we looked, the natural beauty of the snow-frosted conifers, frozen creeks, and an endless variety of dazzling ice crystals reminded us of God. When the going became tough, we sang hymns and frequently invoked Our Lady and the saints. This raised spirits and gave us renewed strength to continue.
As the slope grew steeper and the snow deeper, we faced new challenges to our endurance. The temperature steadily fell, and the wind picked up speed. Exhaustion and cramps set in. The hardest part of the ascent would be leaving the tree line. Thus, we had to resist the temptation to give up.
The weather worsened during the final push to the summit. Upon leaving the tree line, we experienced gale-force winds of 50 miles per hour with a -20 degrees Fahrenheit windchill temperature. Several of us were knocked off our feet. Dense sheets of whirling snow obscured our pathway and made it difficult to see. Progress was agonizingly slow, but with constant teamwork, and a prayer on our lips, we pushed resolutely ahead.
Finally, atop Mount Marcy, we unfurled our banner battling the fierce wind. It read: “From New York’s highest peak, we say: ‘Shame on Gov. Cuomo for legalizing infanticide.’ May God receive our act of reparation.” Despite our exhaustion, we were overcome by a feeling of great accomplishment. We had conquered nature’s fury and reached the top of New York State’s highest peak.
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We did not stay for long because of the weather. The wind had blown snow over our tracks, so we need to exercise great care to discern the right way and avoid getting lost. What a relief it was when we found our trail again and returned to the safety of the tree line!
Exhausted, but exhilarated, we congratulated each other and gave thanks to Our Lady for making it to the top. Though we still had to walk another seven miles to get back to the base camp, we had the consolation of knowing that the hardest part was now behind us.
Despite the hardships, hiking through the marvelous winter scenery of the Adirondacks was a soul-expanding experience that filled us with a spirit of adventure and comradeship. At this time of profound crisis, may God receive our humble prayers and sufferings as we yearn for the true conversion of our beloved nation.