When we arrived in Montreal the evening before, the first snow of the year had started to fall. Even though Montreal sees a lot of snow in winter, the authorities had to adapt to winter, and delays were inevitable. But as soon as we were in the city, the snow turns from a source of nuisance to a source of joy. First, I go up Mont Royal (the name-giver of the Canadian city) for a morning run. I had been running there before, in arctic temperatures of below -30C; this time, it was around freezing. The road up to the foot of the hill is slippery and wet because of the traffic, but as soon as I leave the street behind, thick snow makes that lovely chirping sound under my shoes. The snow on the stairs is too thick to run on, but as soon as I hit the trail, it is easy going. I notice that there are cross-country skiing trails, and when I come running down the hill, I see someone on snow shoes - and realize that this is the thing to do. Two friends join me after breakfast; we walk to the rental place at the lake on the other side of Mont Royal, where attaching the snowshoes under our shoes turns out to be easy. Before we know it, we are on our way, getting used to the wide snowshoe frames under our feet.
There is still a light snowfall when we walk on one of the trails towards the hill, to get used to the snowshoes under our feet. Soon enough, we try walking on untouched, virgin snow, and we immediately get addicted to walking on deep snow without our feet sinking into it. The rental guy explained to us that there were marked trails for snowshoeing, but we cannot resist the temptation to just criss-cross the woods on Mont Royal without much of a plan. We snowshoe through the woods, pass cross-country skiing trails, walking trails, wooden bridges - all of them covered in a thick layer of snow. Inevitably, we end up in frequent snow fights and lots of laughter, making the three of us look like snowmen. Physically, snowshoeing requires a good effort from your body as you have to plough through the thick snow. Nevertheless, we have plenty of energy to have a lot of fun as well.
We make our way past the platform from which we have a great view of the city of Montreal, and work our way up through the woods, to the top of the mountain. Apart from making fun, we also stop regularly to just enjoy the silence and take a closer look at the winter landscape around us. There is no wind, the snow is sticky, and the trees are often plastered with snow on all sides. The branches have a thick layer of snow - and more snow is added as we go. It is a fantastic sight. We finally make it to the tall iron cross, and from there, we work our way back to the start of our snowshoe fun adventure. Apart from the view of the city, it feels like we have been out in nature for a couple of hours of snow fun, yet we are back in the city in less than half an hours walk from where we return our snowshoes. Walking the snow without them suddenly feels very awkward.
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