This must be what it feels like on the top of Everest …

Slowly and stiffly, I placed one frozen foot in front of the other, frosty gusts of wind zipping past my ears. I had never been so cold in my life. Other random thoughts began running through my mind: “I wonder what frostbite feels like?  Is this really worth it?  Why can’t Ellen and I be more like normal people and just stay home?”

But no …

Instead of cuddling on the couch watching National Geographic documentaries, we were trudging through freshly fallen snow in single-digit temperatures in search of the summit of Montreal’s famed peak, Mount Royal.

My mind flashed back to the days before, sitting in the comfort of our living room checking out the weather forecast: temperatures just above freezing… perhaps a little overcast… near negligible chances of precipitation.  Nothing to worry about. 

How could the weather channel have been so wrong…

Instead, the temperature hovered around 8 degrees Fahrenheit, with a windchill of -8. Nice. And, in addition, it had been snowing for most of the three days we had been in Montreal, and all we had to wear were sneakers.

I continued forward along the icy path – all the while cursing the weather channel in the back of my mind.  But then as the grade leveled and I cleared the last corner, my eyes were met with the most beautiful view.  At last… an effort well rewarded. 

Except, it looked a little something like this …

A sky of solid white stood like a harsh reality before me.  Somewhere in the distance, barely discernible, the skyscrapers of Montreal braved the cold – like soldiers standing guard in an arctic post.  The sweeping balustrade – which would have been thronged with happy tourists in T-shirts during the summer – was all but empty, only visited by one lone figure – a barren reminder of this now desolate park.

As I progressed further, the figure turned and approached… her arms flapping wildly like some sort of crazed albatross.  Her voice hoarse from the cold and veiled in restrained frustration: “this is the building that we passed 45 minutes ago!” she squawked.

Ah yes, my wife was indeed correct.  As I turned 180 degrees from her and my less than scenic view, I was able to discern quite clearly that this lonely building was in fact the Chateau Mont Royal.  

Approaching the Chateau Mont Royal ... for the second time.

Neither of us – neither me nor my wife, who had made it to the summit a few minutes before me – were too enthusiastic about our new found realization.  We had been walking in -9F weather for almost an hour in what was apparently a giant circle.  And while I had in fact enjoyed the scenery, it dawned on me suddenly and sadly that we should have given greater consideration to the fork we had come across at the beginning of our excursion. 

Cross atop Mont Royal that lights up at night.

As I had stood there at the time, I had seen – not far off – a rather unassuming building at the end of the right hand fork.  Who could have known that this was in fact a shortcut to the top of the famous park from which Montreal had acquired its name?  And to my left… well we had found out the hard way that this was the loop trail that circled around the whole of the top of Parc Mont-Royal.

As we made our way towards the Chateau to thaw ourselves, I thought, “ah yes, once again, we should have turned right.”

A welcomed site: Inside the Chateau, away from the cold and snow!

Attempting to feed the squirrels on the way back down the mountain.

Cemetery on Mont Royal

How about you … have you ever made an unfortunate wrong turn?  Tell us! 

We do it all the time …