One of the wonderful things about living in Montreal is that the city is surrounded by a lot of nature, all within an hour or two away by car. To the east, you have the picturesque of little villages and a wine route in the Eastern Townships, to the north, you have the Laurentians, a stretch of mountains that rise from the shores of the St Laurence River, and towards the south, less than an hour’s drive, you have the very green states of Vermont and New York just across the border with the United States.
It’s been a long while since I last did anything really outdoors, and I’ve really been longing for it. Living in the city, surrounded by people and noise can sometimes get too much. So with a small group of people from theMcGill Outdoors Club, I left in the early hours of the morning while the rest of the city still slept. There was no big plan, but we had with us a group leader who knew many of the trails that criss-cross the Adirondacks. Situated north of the Empire State, this mountainous area is the largest forested region of the continental US. It is dense with trees, littered with lakes, and occupied by mountains that stand at around 1500m or so– which makes a hike to the top not so much of a daunting challenge.
Starting from around 10 in the morning, we hiked on a trail that covered both Snow Mountain and Roostercomb Mountain. These two little peaks are conquer-able within a few hours, but offer awarding panoramic views of the majestic valley and higher mountains in the surroundings. The trail zig-zags through the dense coniferous and pine forest. Sometimes, when stopping to catch your breath, wafting through the air is the refreshing scent of fresh evergreens. Little creeks meander through boulders and the brown carpet of fallen leaves, the sound of the running water cheerful and crisp. The middle of November has already brought light snow showers the higher up the mountain you go, which made the hike dangerously slippery at times, yet also all the more adventurous. There are places where the rocky surface is covered with ice, and you had to grab on to the dry bark of trees along the trail to make sure you don’t slip and stumble. At times, steep ledges along the way make the journey feel more like a climb than a hike. Once on the summit, the warmth of the sun made it almost feel like it was a lazy afternoon in Summer. There we sat, and hungrily devoured our lunches while we gazed down at the world beneath our tired feet.
We left nothing but imprints of our boots, and perhaps echoes of our lighthearted chatter and laughter. We took nothing but photographs and memories of hiking through the woods together. There is something special about being out in nature, about being with a group of like-minded and easy-going nature-enthusiasts that makes you feel incredibly alive and energised.
* Click here for more pictures of the hike.
If you’re interested in taking part in outdoorsy activities with other McGillites, sign up to the mailing list of the McGill Outdoors Club. They offer a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, from mountain climbing to horsebackriding, from kayaking to snowing and ice skating. In weekends, some members organise short one-day trips to places around Montreal, and offer to take people in spare seats of their cars. Usually, you share the cost of petrol, which, depending on the distance, should be around $20 or so. Dress appropriately for the weather, and remember that because you’ll be constantly moving, you tend to feel warm and become sweaty (even in November!). Good hiking boots are essential to hike the trails, which are mainly unpaved. Most of all… enjoy the wonderful nature all around you! 🙂