Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Grouse Grind

Earlier this summer, I did the Grouse Grind in Vancouver with my friend Robert.  For those who have not heard of it, the Grouse Grind is a strenuous 2.9 km hike up Grouse Mountain.  Over the course of those 2.9 km, it gains 850 meters in elevation and goes up 2830 stairs (I don't envy whoever counted them).  Needless to say, it is quite an intense physical challenge.

The information that I found about the hike said to be in good shape and dressed in appropriate attire.  Both of these suggestions were ignored.  I did the hike in exceptionally sub-par physical condition, and in probably the least appropriate attire possible.  As I was too lazy (and stupid) to pack my hiking clothing with me, I had to tough it out in jeans and a cotton t-shirt.  We did the hike on a pretty hot day, so it didn't take long for me to regret this.  Oh well, you live and learn (I probably won't learn from this though).

My pinnacle of pride for this trip is that me and my friend managed to successfully navigate Vancouver's public transit system and get from our hotel in downtown Vancouver to Grouse Mountain without any issues.  I'm a country boy, so buses are a bit beyond the technology I'm used to.

A statue that me and my friend felt depicted us
The start of the Grind
The Grind quickly lived up to its reputation as "Mother Nature's Stairmaster".  Before we even got to the one quarter mark I was getting pretty physically exhausted.  The hike clearly knew my one weakness: physical exertion.

More stairs
The first quarter of the hike feels like the longest, but it doesn't seem as steep as the middle section.  The next chunk of the hike, to the three quarters mark, is the hardest section of the hike.  I had to stop a couple of times for some water, and quickly regretted my decision to not take advantage of the hotel's ice machine.  Lukewarm water doesn't exactly make you want to get up and go.  On the plus side, I didn't drink nearly as much water as normal, so maybe I'm on to a water conservation technique.

Even more stairs

Not stairs

Stairs again
Towards the top of the mountain there were some hints of a nice view to come.  The last quarter of the hike wasn't too bad, and before long we were coming up the final climb.
The view from the top of Grouse Mountain was pretty nice.  I haven't really done a hike in or near a metro area before, so it was a nice change for me.  From the top you could see most of Vancouver and a lot of the surrounding hills and mountains.  The view was definitely well worth the hike.
After grabbing a burger and plenty of water, we got in line for the skyride back down to the parking lot.  Downhill travel is prohibited on the Grouse Grind, but I probably would have done the skyride regardless.  My energy was pretty much shot.

The views coming down the skyride were nice, though it was pretty crowded which sort of offset how nice it was.
A view on the skyride
I'm glad that we took this challenge on and met it.  Being in less than ideal shape, this served more as a test of mental willpower than as a test of physical endurance.  I would love to come back here some time in better shape, but still, we did the hike in one and a half hours, which I believe is the average time.

Overall I had an excellent experience on the Grouse Grind.  I would recommend it to anyone looking for a true physical challenge.  For anyone not interested in a hike this difficult, I would still recommend taking the skyride to the top of Grouse Mountain.  The view is quite spectacular.

You can read more about the Grouse Grind here.
The Skyride up Grouse Mountain

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