July 26, 2011

Bucket List - The Grouse Grind

The Grouse Grind, aka “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”, is a very challenging 2.9km trail straight up the front of Grouse Mountain, in West Vancouver, BC. Hikers begin at 900 feet above sea level and ascend to 3700 feet – an elevation gain of 2800 feet (or the equivalent of 1.5 times the height of the CN Tower. The average time to complete “the Grind” is 1.5 – 2 hours. This past Sunday, I completed it in 65 mins. Not bad for a first-timer!

To say that it was challenging is an understatement; it is a true test of both mental and physical fitness. There’s no going back, though, so once you start to make your way to the top, you gotta just keep going. And going and going and going….up the 3000 “steps” that make up the climb.

Arlene Gee on Flikr

When we lived in BC, I had always been too intimidated to attempt the Grind, because I assumed that it would be only extremely fit people bounding their way up the mountain and leaving me in their wake, but I was surprised to see the wide range of ages and abilities out on the trail; literally every age was represented (even a newborn in a carrier).

I started my climb at 1pm and was part of a fairly steady stream of people who were out to enjoy an absolutely gorgeous, sunny day. Of course, there were a few super-energetic types that passed me on the way up, but I think I managed to hold my own. I even saved a tiny burst of energy for the last few metres, knowing that the mascot would be waiting for me when I emerged at the top of the trail.

Once I was at the top, I pulled out my phone and immediately called my fella. I mean, what's an accomplishment if you can't (breathlessly) share it with someone you love? A couple minutes later, the mascot and my mom spotted me and made their way over to where I was. It wasn't until that moment, though, that I turned around to see what I had climbed up for - the view! It, combined with the realization that I had just crossed something off my bucket list, absolutely overwhelmed me. I was so happy to have my peeps up there to share it with me. Almost as happy as I was to take the tram down the mountain!