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    Posted December 27, 2014 by
    Montreal, Quebec
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Time-lapsing exotic destinations

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    Hiking on Quebec's Green Mountains during the white season

    Hiking on Quebec's Green Mountains during the white season

    *Mandeep S. Oberoi


    The Green Mountains Nature Reserve, also known as the Berkshires and the Mont Sutton, spreads for around 250 miles (400 km) from the U.S. state of Vermont to the Quebec province in Canada. This area connects through the Appalachian chain and comprises of a myriad of ecosystems that are home to an abundance of interesting plant species and wildlife such as black bears, deer, mice, raccoons, squirrels, moose, and peregrine falcons. As hikers we do not like black flies that show up during summer, though they do constitute an important seasonal characteristic of the ecosystem of the region.

    It was fun hiking on the Quebec side of the mountain this past Saturday, on December 20th. The date is significant because this is around the shortest day of the year in this part of the world. So our hiking leader had very diligently planned our schedule considering the sunrise and the sunset times and the length of the trail in such a way that we would be back at the parking lot before the last ray of sunset. Of course, we had carried headlamps and flash lights for back-up, though luckily we did not have to use them.

    The voyage

    We were a group of around 20 trekkers who started our extempore hike at around 9.30 am on site after changing into our hiking gear and putting on the snowshoes. Though our lead had sent preparatory emails weeks in advance, I will still call it an extempore hike because we were all new to this particular trail during the snow season and it entailed trail blazing.

    Our lead, an experienced hiker herself laid down the rules of engagement before we hit the trails. We were allowed to maintain our own pace, but we had to wait for everybody to catch-up at each junction. If we had to go off-trail for nature’s calls, we were advised to leave our back-packs behind so that others could eat the food! Nobody was allowed to walk behind the sweeper. A sweeper in hiking jargon refers to the designated last person, who is usually a very experienced hiker. The rule numbers 4, 5, and 6 entailed to having fun, more fun, and more fun!

    As we gained altitude, we found very beautiful sights of wilderness covered with snow and ice. It was truly like being in a wonderland.

    Multiple shades of grey, white, and blue

    One of my hiking mates expressed her amazement at the gorgeous day with gorgeous colors and I shared her enthusiasm about the enchanting landscapes. There were several shades of white like crystalline white, foggy grey white, and several hues of blue going from pale to almost indigo. The consistency of the snow varied from sugar powder to icy drapes. Trees looked like phantoms or dancers with contorted limbs in rhythmic moves. At the summit on Singer mountain, we felt like being on the ninth cloud, with Vermont side of the mountain at a distance and a sea of shiny fog erasing depths in between.

    Trail breaking was the game

    Since the mountain was covered with up to 16 inches (40 cm) of snow, it was really confusing to track the original trails. We were lucky to have experienced trail-breakers in front, who did their job with great precision. That saved us a lot of valuable day light time. In hiking jargon, the act of breaking the trail essentially means looking for the signs posted on trees, boulders etc., and the trail maps to identify the track.

    The outdoor temperature was very convenient at 14 deg F (-10 deg Cº). We had hikers with varied levels of endurance. Some of us, including myself got very tired during the last stretch and we had slowed down the group. At that time, our lead pitched in with help and techniques to keep us going since day light was precious for our safety. We covered approximately 9 miles (14.5 km) in around seven hours, including the lunch and breaks. It was quite tiring by the evening because of heavy walking on the snow and the weight and dimensions of the snowshoes. I could now imagine how the German army may have felt in Russia in winter during the Second World War.


    Exploring uncharted trails on snow-covered mountains is a lot of fun as a group activity. It is one of our ways to get fresh air during winter. It is important to be well equipped for the game and be accompanied by experienced people to play it safe.

    I would like to thank my hiking mates Gary Bertleff, Zhongyuan Tang (Justin), Jean-Baptiste Gaudier, and our lead Géraldine Trouillard among others for the help with pictures and editing of this manuscript.

    *Mandeep S. Oberoi, twitter @mandeepsoberoi is an outdoor enthusiast. He is an intermediate hiker, kayaker, camper, poet, and writer. He has ventured across Laurentian mountains and Eastern Quebec townships in Canada, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier in the West coast of USA, Scottish Highlands, Toco range in the Caribbean, Swiss Interlaken mountains, and the Himalayas, among others. He works professionally as SAP financial services consultant for his firm Dexteyra Consulting Group Inc.
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