There’s something about the air in the fall that just makes me want to be outside. The leaves are crispy, the bugs have retired for the season, and the tourists have left the building. Last year, the gang of Enthusiastics and I hiked l’Acropole des Draveurs in Malbaie, QC. This 9.6 km trail was about 1148m in altitude and took us a solid ten hours to complete. This year, we decided to keep it local and hit up some trails a little closer to home. The payoff was definitely not going to be as big, but the climb would also be less painful. My other aunt, referred to now and always as Auntie Zeus (‘cause it rhymes with her real name and she is seriously strong) joined us for her first hiking experience, so we wanted to keep it friendly. Lord only knows what happens to someone when their first real hike is a tough one (please see #23: Acropole des Draveurs for details on the painfulness of that experience).
Mont St-Hilaire is only supposed to be an hour drive from town, but due to traffic and a lack of signage it took us closer to two hours to find the mountain. We decided on the ride up to try and tackle two of the summits. The trail called Rocky weighed in at 403m high and 3.4 km and was the longest trail in the area. However, the trail with the most gusto and highest recommendation was the pain du sucre (or sugar loaf) which weighed in at 414m and a few less km (I think it was 2 and some) of trail. The view up there was said to be second to none, but we also wanted to get some exercise – so naturally, we chose to do both, weighing in at about 10K and touching on a few other in-between trails whose kilometers I didn’t bother with.
The first trail we did was the pain du sucre. This trail is marvelled about because of the view of Montreal, surrounding cities and la fleuve St. Laurent (our major waterway, or St. Lawrence River). This point was also a ritual point also used by the Algonquin tribe to both survey the Richelieu Valley and hold rituals. Once we got up there, I could see why – the rock face was perfectly flat and the view was astounding. We took a short break and then head back down to cross over to the other side of the mountain and hit up the Rocky trail.
The Rocky trail was somewhat less interesting in the sense that there was no historical value, but there was a slight
ly larger amount of rock face and slightly lower inclination on the part of the trail that we did touch. We crossed by the Fleuve Hertel and went around to the other side of the mountain. Once we hit the peak at Rocky, we were ready for another break.
As you know, I can’t go anywhere without ending up in a strange predicament. My cousin Vlad the pack mule (again, not his real name) was exploring some of the nooks and crannies on top of the Rocky peak when a girl started yelling at him to not come any closer because of ice. Realizing this was weird but not wanting to interfere (considering that they were exactly where the supposed ice was), Vlad came back and we started eating lunches. All was well until we started hearing the smack, smack, smack of adult sexy time and the girl started screaming out in throes of ecstasy (and I seriously mean THROES). This would have been fine if we weren’t 10 feet away from there in full view. This would have been less bad if there weren’t 35 people (and families) eating lunch about 20 feet away from us. Still, it was hilarious watching people walk up to the lookout point that they were occupying and move away in horror when they realized they were doing the nasty. This was also the most epic walk of shame, ever. All that to say that this is why I didn’t get any photos from the top of Rocky. I was planning on taking a video to show y’all, alas I decided public sex might get me too many unwanted hits.
A word on the family – they really know how to do this stuff properly. Aunt Enthusiastic came prepared, as always, with sandwich stuff and snacks brought up by cousin Vlad the pack mule. Auntie Zeus came armed with a six-pack of Molson Canadian, a bottle of Jackson Triggs and a wheel of brie. I had a better meal sitting atop a mountain peak than I have made myself in weeks. I will tell you, there’s something magical about sitting atop a mountain drinking wine and eating cheese and sucking it all in. I know some seriously good people who know how to do things right.
Some may recall that my first hiking experience was not so smooth. Xena essentially had to bribe me to get up the mountain, and once I got up I could not WAIT to get back down. This was the first time that I actually enjoyed the hike as much as talking about it. It goes to show how much a person can change over the course of a year. I can truly say that I complained maybe once (about forgetting my knee brace) and was positive the whole way through. This might not say a lot to a lot of people, but this is a huge break for me.
Speaking of breaks, the thing I loved the most about yesterday was the break it gave me from everything. It was a break, mentally, from all of the stresses I have no choice but to endure. It was a break from schoolwork, it was a break from housework, a break from people. it was a break that allowed me to concentrate on just the physical and spiritual dimension of myself, and it was much needed. I suggest you try it sometime!
What kind of activities do you do to give yourself a mental break?