Last month I started highlighting some of the “adventures” I had on my own in Vancouver this past May. It was turning into a pretty long post so, here is Part 2! 🙂 And this post contains one of the biggest highlights of my time there. So without further ado, I present to you, the Grouse Grind!
The Grouse Grind…aka “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”…aka “The 2nd Hardest Physical Challenge I’ve Ever Completed” (my marathon being the first 🙂 ). The Grouse Grind is something I have wanted to do since my first visit to Vancouver in 2013. It is a 2.9km trail up the face of Grouse Mountain. Key word there is “up”.
The Grouse Grind has an elevation gain of 2,800 feet, a total of 2,830 stairs, and takes the average hiker 1.5 hours to complete. Needless to say, it’s quite the workout! I was determined to attempt this climb once I had recovered from the marathon. I spoke to many people in Vancouver who had completed it, read numerous blogs and articles regarding it, but when it came time for me to actually do it, I was so nervous!
I made my way toward Grouse Mountain on a clear, crisp Friday morning (much like the weather I wish we were experiencing in Florida now that Fall has arrived…). As I drove closer and closer to my destination, my heart pounded harder and harder and the knots in my stomach grew. I actually think I was more nervous about attempting this hike than I was my first marathon! I think it was the “unknown” factor – I didn’t really know what to expect despite all of the research I had done.
After parking and visiting the restroom, it was time to make my way to the trailhead – easily distinguished by the giant warning sign that was nearly the size of my car. 😐
One thing I was surprised about were the number of people hiking the trail on a weekday. I was both relieved not to be alone (should I fall, break a bone, have a stroke, pull a muscle, or experience heart failure – all perfectly reasonable possibilities), but also a bit disappointed not to have the trail to myself as it wasn’t quite as serene. Not that climbing 2,830 steps is a serene act…at all.
It was also nice to have other people on the trail because I felt a small sense of accomplishment each time I passed someone. Of course, I also felt like a wheezing, lumbering ox each time someone passed me. (And I experienced more of the latter feeling…)
The trail is marked every quarter and I was told and had read that you’ll think you’re nearing the halfway mark when the quarter mark will come into view. So I was super surprised when I did see it – not as far as I had expected! Hard, yes, but not “I’m going to DIE!!!” hard. Yet.
Even once I arrived at the halfway mark I still felt pretty good and felt like I was making good time. And then came the 3/4 mark. Which I thought had perhaps been stolen by grizzlies. It was clearly no longer on this trail. I was very confident about this. And when I heard someone above me shout, “We made it!”, I knew I had reached the top! Only to turn a corner and see that elusive 3/4 marker. This was when I started questioning my sanity in wanting to do this hike in the first place. But I wasn’t about to stop now!
The last 1/4 actually wasn’t too bad. I had stopped a few times to take some breathers and hydrate but I plowed through the last quarter without stopping. I think I was afraid if I did stop, I wouldn’t start again. And my competitive streak had kicked in a bit and I wanted to make a decent time. 🙂
I finally saw the trail clearing up ahead and knew I had made it! I finished in 1 hour and 12 minutes – much less than the two hours I thought it was going to take me. 😀 Once at the top, I just stood in the sun for a bit, reveling in the fact that I had just accomplished my second crazy difficult challenge in two weeks.
This was the toughest hike I have ever done, hands down. It was constant climbing – no level areas at all. But I did it and was so happy and proud! I thought I wouldn’t be able to walk the next day but my legs were fine. Whew!!
And then, a week later, I decided to do it again. I knew I could beat my previous time if I didn’t stop at all and this time I knew what to expect. Except the memory of the pain that this hike inflicts had faded over that week and a few yards in I was asking myself why I was doing this again. But I finished (again!) and beat my first time up by seven minutes! Woohoo!! (And I was only passed by three people on the way up 😉 )
I can see how people can become addicted to this hike. It is so, so difficult but is such a good workout and you feel such a sense of accomplishment once at the top! I would definitely do it again!!!
Stay tuned for more highlights from my time in one of my favorite places in the world!