Saturday, December 18, 2010

What (not) to wear when climbing a mountain

( With a hit tip to Serene, who actually writes a useful blog on running gear )

I'm visiting Montreal for the weekend. The last time I was here was about 7 years ago... from that visit, I fondly remembered taking in great views of the city from Mount Royal (or "The Mountain" / "Le Mont" as the locals call it).

Now, Le Mont isn't a "Mountain" mountain, but as hills go, it's pretty darn big. I decided I was going to take the bus to the summit. This is a pleasure trip after all, and walking up the mountain in the snow wasn't my idea of fun.

I set out and catch bus 1 of 2 for my trip. I almost miss my connecting stop, but don't. On bus #2, everything is looking good. The bus seems to be headed away from the mountain. I check with the driver and she assures me that we're headed up the mountain. She's correct, the bus just has a circuitous route.

After a while, we're headed up the mountain. Up up up we gradually go. I'm enjoying the snowy scene, people out jogging and cross country skiing. Me on the bus. Just the way god intended it! We keep going up and we hit a stretch of road with a great view of the city. I think to myself, "that's beautiful, I can't wait till we get to the top".

The bus makes a stop. Then, down down down we go. I wouldn't say I was panicked, but even though I'm from Illinois I understand the basic features of a hill... I missed the top, doh! I'm thinking there will be another stop soon, but, of course, the next stop is at the bottom of the mountain.

I get off the bus. I eye the mountain, the mountain eyes me. Bring it!

I begin my ascent. Lessons learned:
  • do not bring a laptop when climbing a mountain, unless it's Everest or K2 and you have sherpas with you.
  • do not sling your laptop bag over your shoulder, it pinches off air circulation under your coat and makes you get hotter
  • Slow down! If you try to walk a steep incline at your "level ground" walking pace, you're gonna kill yourself (or at least pass out)
  • Wear layers (I actually did this... I was removing my hat unzipping/rezipping my jackets for a degree of temperature control.. although I was still all sweaty when I got to the top.
I made it to the top. Well, probably not the technical summit... but it was the highest point the paved trails would take you I think. By the lord's sweet mercy, there is a chalet up here (that's right, I switched tenses, I'm like James Joyce, sucka!) so I've been able to get a vending machine breakfast... which reminds me
  • eat breakfast before you climb a mountain
A note about the chalet. There are paintings around the walls that depict the story of the development of Montreal from the "pioneer days". I can't help think of the show Parks & Recreation and their mural depicting the history of Pawnee indiana, a history of forced labor, conquest, and disease spreading, that the city fathers saw no problem with.

Ok, enough communing with nature... off to find a record store.

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