Updated: Mar 2, 2020
Nearing my second month back in Montreal I've realized that it had been a while since I breathed fresh air.
Somehow, whether it is negative thirty degrees or six degrees out, I've managed to live in complete isolation from the outside world.
I spend the tranquil moments waiting for the express bus, cocooned in my impenetrable jacket, I navigate the city through its underground tunnels, pumped with heated recycled air, and meet my friends in crammed bunkers where good food is served.
I am far from experiencing the Canadian winter. My only perceivable connection to the cold is that I fear it and it discomforts me. This is an attitude I am fighting to challenge.
Sometimes the challenge is as simple of an action as bringing the garbage out in the middle of the night, or enduring the towel-less seconds after a hot shower. And it seems to me that those moments are the necessary steps to finding comfort in the cold.
One morning this week I decided to spend the afternoon in the national park of Val David; a village in the Laurentian Mountains, an hour North of Montreal.
Though the skies were overcast with thick grey clouds, the village seemed brighter than the city of Montreal, the snow less mucky and the air much FRESHER. Exactly what I was looking for.
I paid a simple 10$ fee for access to the park and was allowed to explore its entirety until 4:30 pm.
In the first few hundred meters of hiking, I crossed paths with snowshoe'rs, cross country skiers and casual hikers followed by their trusty dogs. The snow was friendly and compact, especially with crampons (which I wore for the first time).
I quickly got carried away touching and inspecting the beautiful ice formations which latched onto the large granite boulders. They leaked sharply to the frozen forest floor with a lifelike and organic coordination. Crystalline yet simultaneously liquid in form.
Later and unsurprisingly I made attempts at clearing the granite boulders of their winter shells to...climb them? Feel them?
Three hours speedily passed and my alarm rang to return to the parking lot. Luckily I didn't get very far into the park and so I have a lot more to explore in the coming months of winter.
Besides having experienced a fresher day away from the claustrophobia of the city, I now also have a recent memory to fantasize about for when I feel overwhelmed by my urban life.