Almost Payne Mountain

Today I had the dubious (!?) pleasure (!?) of snowshoeing with two insane Québécois men. I suppose I should have known better. After all, they don’t call it Payne Mountain for nothing.

One point in their favour – they picked a glorious day with bluebird skies and temperatures that had us peeling off gloves and jackets pretty quickly after we got started.

So up we went on semi-crunchy snow that we knew would turn soft by afternoon. But – what the hell, right?

We arrived at Pine Cone Inn about 3 hours or so after setting out. Francis pointed out the top of the mountain we were heading for. I eyed it a tad sceptically, estimating another two hours to get there. What I did not take into account was the condition of the snow as we continued to switchback up to the ridge above the cabin.

The snow was heavy – as in, each time you pick up you foot you are moving 10 pounds off the ground. And no matter how often we tapped the snow off our shoes, it stuck back on within three steps.

What I’m trying to say here is that the slogging was tough. We took turns breaking trail and, let me tell you, it was hard work! Really hard!

We got to the top of the ridge just before 2 p.m. That was when Francis noted that the top of Payne Mountain was just a bit farther, as in “You have to go down first, and then you go up and you hike along the ridge and you get to the top.”

In other words – minimum one more hour to the top in the snow we were wading through – probably even more.

We called it and had lunch staring at one of the most beautiful vistas I’ve had the pleasure to feast my eyes on for quite some time. Happy, happy, happy.

And then the turnaround – but not quite. The boys decided we were going to go straight down the face of the mountain. I don’t quite know how to describe the steepness. It was, I would say, just shy of jumping off a cliff. I looked at it with a bit of trepidation. But – what the hell, right?

Down we went – for two hours. Halfway through the slip, slide, fall, bum ski, small-avalanche-creating descent, my leg muscles gave out. Not being a skier, I’ve never had the chance to develop those front leg muscles.

Ouch.

Now, I have to give the insane boys a bit of credit here – they didn’t complain because I slowed them down. In fact, they were very kind and caring. Francis was nice because he knew that I had chocolate on my person and wanted to make sure I would get back safely so I would share said chocolate. Ben was kind because he wasn’t too eager to drag a body along the road if and when we actually found it again.

We did make the road. I almost kissed it with relief and joy – never has a road looked so good to me.

And there we were – back at the truck exactly 8 hours after setting out. My guess is about 1,100 – 1,200 metres elevation gain. Maybe a bit less or a bit more. I like to think it was more because it makes a better story and certainly makes me look much braver for enduring all the pain (Payne?) without breaking down in sobs and tantrums.

And yes, I’ll go with them again if invited. And that does NOT make me as insane as the boys. Just a tiny bit less so.

One more note – I came home to a gift of beautiful love. Simon painted the bathroom window white (which was so important to me) and he did the closet door – what a gift!

So lucky to be loved by him.

Perfect day.

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