Grindin’ the Grouse

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not at all athletic (in this post from 2012 I said I had never been to a gym and that is still completely true), so I’m not sure quite what I was thinking when I agreed to do the Grouse Grind with Lox.

For those who don’t know, the Grouse Grind is a trail up the front of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver – 2.9 kilometres made up of 2830 steps, with an elevation gain of 853 metres. Pretty different from my usual choice of activity, but it was on every ‘things to do in Vancouver’ list, so two Saturdays ago, Lox and I made the journey out to North Van to tackle the Grouse.

I spent the first half hour sure I was dying. Like I said, I’m not athletic but I do a fair bit of incidental exercise, so I thought I’d be mostly physically prepared. Perhaps unsurprisingly, walking to and from the train station everyday doesn’t exactly prepare you for two hours of constant climbing. Within 10 minutes, I was struggling to breathe and doubting my ability to continue. But I had said I would do it and I don’t like to be wrong (plus the sign at the start said there was no turning back), so I told my lungs to toughen up and forced myself to continue.

Fortunately throughout the hike, there were markers so we could tell how far we had left. The closer we got to the end, the more determined I was. I think eventually my body stopped freaking out about all the unexpected exercise, like my brain told it, “we don’t like it but she doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon, better not let her die”. After 3 hours (2 actually spent moving; I needed a lot of rest stops), we finally reached the top. All I wanted to do was collapse and eat everything, so it seemed kind of cruel that the cafe was up a flight of stairs. Though by that point I was kind of numb, so the only thing I felt was overwhelming relief.

The Grind was the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. I can’t say I recommend it to anyone – I’m more into food and music recommendations – but if, for some reason, you decide that you’re into grindin’ the Grouse, I have a few tips:

  • Bring plenty of food and water (my 500ml drink bottle was woefully inadequate).
  • Wear appropriate clothing, especially footwear. The amount of people wearing Vans made my feet have sympathy pangs.
  • If you’re going to listen to music, listen through headphones. Don’t be that asshole (there were 5 on my hike!) who blasts their music for everyone to hear. It’s a dick move and, honestly, feels a little sacrilegious when you’re surrounded by nature.
  • Don’t get to the halfway point and turn around: 1) You’re halfway, you’re not saving yourself any distance by turning around now; 2) The Grind is steep; you will destroy your knees by walking downhill; 3) It’s literally not allowed. It’s dangerous and annoying and against the rules. On that note…
  • Read the sign at the entrance of the climb that says what’s allowed before starting. It’s not there for bonus reading material.

Despite my gripes, it was all up a great experience and something I’m super proud of completing. And something that I will happily never do again.

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