Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Mont-Royal Hike

On my weekend back from San Francisco, I was kind of missing the heights and the amazing views an the panoramas and all that cool stuff you get to see in that beautiful city. Then I thought, "Gee, where can I get a nice view like that here?" and the cross on the Mount-Royal mountain suddenly lit up and shone its light down on me! I fell to my knees in awe and wonder! God gave me the answer! Well, not really. Mount Royal is the closest thing to a "mountain" for miles around. (kilometers around just sounds weirds...) Of all the places in this city, Mount Quarter Pounder with Cheese is one place I never ventured. My parents brought me up there as a kid a long time ago, by car, to only one belvedere which overlooks the eastern part of Montreal with the Olympic stadium, which by the way either looks like a giant futuristic toilet, or one of those alien underwater ships in the 1989 movie The Abyss.

There's not so much crap in there since the Expos are gone.

The prop from the movie. I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!

Living in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve has its share of, well... issues. Such as hookers and pimps, addicts and dealers, thieves and robbers and a whole lot of people living off welfare who don't give a flying fuck about anyone and will tell you off with the worst use of French language you've ever heard. (Not only with swear words, but grammar so bad you'll feel queasy.) On the other hand, it has its perks as well. If you live above a certain street, you'll find more respectable people and it's actually nice. Also, there are many Bixi rent-a-bike stations and you can bike from there to the Plateau, the Mont-Royal mountain or even downtown in just minutes. Hell, it's easier by bike than by car sometimes, and quicker than the metro! Well, heck! Might as well do that! So here was my plan. I would take a Bixi bike and pedal my way to Mount-Royal on the Rachel street bike path, drop it off at the bike station at park Jeanne-Mance, then cross the street to the mountain and climb the shit out of it. Then I would come back down and get back home again by bike.

I've biked from home to the plateau before. There are a few nice places along the way. One notable place is La Banquise, the 24h poutine mecca of Montreal. Forget about going there Saturday or Sunday morning at 3am when the bars close. This place is PACKED! Because there ain't nothing like a good poutine to bust your gut after a night of heavy drinking. If it doesn't help you purge you excess alcohol, the fat from the fries, brown gravy and curd cheese will help you sleep and line your insides with a  protection lube against alcohol. La Banquise has a big selection of different poutines. Some of them look like chili fries, others like the T-Rex, have every kind of meat available in the restaurant: ground beef, pepperoni, bacon and hot dogs. But, I digress. Back to the trip.

It's a little tough biking to the  mountain because you're constantly going up-hill. But, it's just a small steady incline, it's really not that bad. After biking through San Francisco, it's a real joke. Eventually I ended up at the Jeann Mance park where they had a bixi station, left my bike and crossed avenue Du Park to the George-Etienne Cartier statue where people play tam tams. Sadly, no one was playing tam tams that day.

 When I got there I whipped out my phone and checked out the map to look at the pedestrian paths. I went up a path and immediately cut through in the woods. Why? Because FUCK YOU! That's why. I'm a rebel. I don't follow paths. Besides, I wanted to surround myself with a bit of nature, even though I'm downtown. The mountain has a few different kinds of paths. A large gravel one for everybody like pedestrians or cyclists and I guess vehicles as well. And they have smaller trails for more "adventurous" people. Or you can do like me and be a complete jackass and just cut through the woods, step in mud, trip on roots and smack your pretty little face on sharp rocks. But, I'm awesome so I didn't trip and I kept my charming pretty boy looks.

Paths are for suckers. See? There's a couple right now!

That's more like it. Just yet another reason why they call me the "bushman".


Well I had no choice here because I eventually reached a wall of rocks.

Walking through the woods was pretty cool, except there were a lot of areas that seem like bums slept there. Ashes from campfires, debris and trash all over the place. It was kind of gross in some spots. But you could see them from far away and avoid them. I can't imagine how scary it would be to be stuck on the mountain at night. There are a lot of stories in the news that talk about people getting mugged and even stabbed sometimes on that mountain. Scary stuff.

The climb was pretty good and I got a lot of exercise. I eventually had to take an actual hiking path after I got to a giant wall of rocks and ended up at the first belvedere overlooking east. That's the place my parents used to take me once in a blue moon.

Yep, that's my side of the town - the ghetto side.

From there, you can take some stairs up and reach another path that goes all the way to the very top of the mountain and get a healthy dose of radiation. You'll find a cell tower and the massive red and white TV/Radio tower for the CBC/SRC channels (that's the Canadian Broadcasting Corpoation) and CFCF channel 12. My brain felt kinda tingly and I could hear music and voices in my skull coming from my fillings in my teeth.

It happened to Lucille Ball! I'M NOT CRAZY DAMMIT!

Not far from there is the Chalet Du Mont Royal (The Mont Royal Cottage) It's a huge stone walled building meant to look kind of rustic. Inside it there's nothing. It's just a very large area to organise events and stuff. It's decorated with some paintings and pictures depicting how the first settlers came here, explored, documented the land and massacred the natives then later screwed them over while trading goods and stealing their land. You know, just a reminder of how white people have been so fucking awesome throughout history. For all you sensitive types, I am being sarcastic by the way.

Yes, those are gigantic bug-zappers hanging from the ceiling.
From the looks of it, you could probably zap a whole person with this!

The crest of Montreal. I heard they want to change the flowers on it for an orange construction cone, 
a pot hole, a student protester and a rich Italian construction entrepreneur.

The most rewarding part of this whole adventure is the view you finally get to see from the belvedere in front of the Chalet. Too bad it's the only place in the area where you can climb high enough to see something like this.

I have seen this shot a million times on the Internet, but I never knew where that was on Mont-Royal and I always wanted to find out. Well there it is. One thing I missed though is where the heck that big giant cross is. By cutting through the woods like a rampaging Sasquatch, I totally missed the one curve that passes in front of it. Quickly consulting my phone's GPS, I found the way there and within minutes I had reached the place where Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve had been hundreds of years ago to plant a cross as a vow to the Virgin Mary to stop a flood. The overflowing sewers in the city pretty much convinced me that THIS IS ALL A SHAM! Where's your "Virgin" Mary now, huh, Maisonneuve?

Damn, it looked bigger from down below.
We need to build a bigger cross to stop he floods.

At that point, I was satisfied with my trip on Mont-Royal so I decided to climb back down. Except I took a different path and ended up on Doctor Penfield and went down to Sainte-Catherine to walk some more around downtown. I made a good choice because look at what I found!

That reminds me of the BAM Poptarts Commercials where a douchebag goes BAAAAAAAAYUM! When he sees modified cars, like the ones pictured above.

Anyway, I marched on, turned on Saint-Laurent and it was already dinner time and I was close to my favourite restaurant: Ramen-Ya. So I stopped by and ordered my favourite ramen. There's nothing like a hot bowl of tasty ramen after a long day of exercise.

MMMmmmmmm!!! My Favourite!!!

Finally, after dinner, I went to the nearest Bixi bike station and rode back home on Rachel. There's a lot more I didn't put on here, but if you're interested you can view the full photo album here.

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