The day after the party, Michka and me ar going nordic skiing. We step outside, -15 degrees Celsius (roundabout 5 degrees Fahrenheit), frozen ice on the sidewalks, and we carrying our long skies. We take the warm metro to Saint-Laurent, and with a bus from there all the way up to Mont Royal, the mountain inmidst Montreal. My hands are getting red and filled with needles, since I walked about 300 meters without gloves, and the deep temperatures make your fingers first full of pain and then slowly dozing off into the numbness of a frostbite.

Michka rotates his arms, and first I think he would do warm-up exercises but quickly realize that he does that to keep his fingers from getting cold: When you rotate your arms, the centrifugal force is pressing the blood outwards, namely in the tips of your fingers. Your blood has a decently warm temperature, too, so your fingers won’t fall off. The only problem: If your gloves are thin, they will let through the wind thats caused by the fast rotation…

We get our nordic skis on und start trampling up the hill. It’s beautiful: Everywhere snow, trees have frozen branches, the light scatters through the light forest .. “ooouch!”
This is the sound I make when I hurt a muscle on the sole of my feet that apparently was only constructed for Nordic skiing, but nothing else. After 300 meters I think I will just drop dead on this forest floor, and am close to simply give up and ask Michka to finish the tour on his own. Before I find the right words, I hear Michka approaching me “Toby, want to go to the top?!”
“Aaaaah yes, why not! Let’s go!”

Sometimes it is the best thing to continue even if you feel hurt, to overcome this temporary strip of pain in the long road of training for a sport. And “going to the top” means to go all the way to the belvedere. Our route looks something like this:

After an hour or more, my complete thighs feeling sore and the cold air rushing in and out of my lungs, we reach the top: A monumental lunch hall, right next to a huge plattform which gives you the most breathtaking view of Montreal available. Nordic skiing with a camera is not very good when you trip over your own legs every two minutes and have a layer of frozen snow all over your pants as a proof of ridiculous nordic skiing skills – a camera doesn’t like snow that much. So I try to describe what you can see from up there:

Montreals downtown skyscrapers are right in front of you, each emitting smoke or steam at the top. The rtooftops of all the buildings are nearly black, contrasting the orange shimmering from underneath, coming from the streetlights. There is a distant noise, as if someone turned on a humongeous radio and were between two stations in the wide wooshing nowhere. On the horizon all lights are dancing in the rising warmth of the city’s radiators, and everything seems so peacuful, untouched, icy.

We drank two cups of coffe from a vending machine – the most waterlike coffe ever made – inside the giantic, empty hall (which I guess is usually an extremely busy restaurant). No doubt that I’ll come there again without skis on my feet but with a camera in my hand.

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