Every year for the past 8 years, I have made it a point to go hiking with one of my friends for my birthday. This tradition started when I became 17. Before that day, I had never invited any one of my friends to celebrate with me before. However, in July of 2013, I finally got my chance. That day, we walked around Mount Royal together (which worried my mother immensely as we did not have cellphones at that time) and then finished the day with some lovely food at a restaurant in China Town. I had a lot of fun sharing this day with my friend, brother, and mother. Since then, I’ve had my traditional birthday celebration at Mont Tremblant, Mont Saint-Sauveur, Mont Rigaud, Mount Saint-Hilaire, and Morin-Heights. There was even a year we went ziplining. Spending time with my friend in nature each year has been a delightful tradition that I cherish very much. I think sharing these moments together over so many years has brought us closer together as friends. We even exchange birthday cards, and I’ve kept all of them in a container. It’s nice to have a collection of items that mark the passage of time, and within each item contains kind thoughtful words from a friend.

               This year, we decided to hike at Parc régional de la Chute-à-Bull. It is a 1hr and 30min drive from Montreal and requires a $7 entry fee (if anyone is interested in visiting). I would recommend it! My mother, aunt, friend and I hiked through two routes, first the ‘sentier de la chute’ and then the ‘sentier du belvédère’. We walked along the sentier de la chute, which was next to a stream with many boulders within it. My friend and I enjoyed climbing on the rocks and bounding from one boulder to another. We saw some people lying on the rocks and even picnicking in the middle of the stream. The sentier de la chute itself was beautiful. The route had different sections including narrow ones surrounded by trees and nature, some wooden platforms and stairs, and some open areas where you can see the other mountains that were further away. The route ended at a set of stairs that brought us to a waterfall: the regional park’s main attraction. My friend and I decided to sit on a rock near the pool of water that surrounded the falls. There were some people swimming in the water while others were just dipping their feet in it. The sun was warm and rayed down on all of us. The sky was clear and the trees, rocks, water, leaves, and branches that surrounded us were lovely. At one point, my friend suggested that I stand at the shallow edge of the pool with the others, and so I agreed. After taking off my shoes and socks, I made my way to the water. Stepping in, the water was cool. I felt the hard slippery rocks under my feet. Excitedly, I walked further and further into the water until it came up above my knees. I wanted to get to the waterfall, but the water was getting too deep, and so I slowly walked back. It was at this moment that I slipped and fell straight into the water face first. I got all wet, my shorts and t-shirt were drenched! I almost hit my face on a rock, which was scary. Thankfully, I just swam to shore unscathed.

               The rest of the hike fortunately dried my clothes. After the waterfall route, we took the belvédère route to the top of the mountain, where we had a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. A sea of various shades of green was displayed before us. I loved being there with my friend, aunt, and mom. It was mostly very calming and relaxing. Walking through the mountain and being with nature helped ground me and keep me in the present. However, during the belvédère route, there were some steep and difficult sections with many rocks and roots in the way. We had to be careful not to trip and fall (which we almost did on multiple occasions). The last few kilometers of this section took a lot out of us; it was quite strenuous exercise. In the end, the hike took us a total of 3 hours, which amounted to 11,000 steps.

               I’m glad I had this day to walk, climb, and swim surrounded by nature and with my family and friend. I had an amazing birthday that I will remember for the rest of my life. I’d definitely recommend hiking here if any of you get the chance! I wonder where I will be hiking next year?